Energy bars are extra bars made with cereals, vitamins, and flavorings that are meant to provide fast energy. Energy bars may be advertised as functional foods since they typically provide extra protein, carbs, dietary fiber, and other nutrients. Making energy bars could result in a sufficient supply of nutrients to serve as a meal substitute.
Every supermarket, convenience store, fitness center, yoga studio, and even sporting goods store now sells nutrition bars. Millions of people rely on energy bars for a quick, tasty boost of calories, protein, and carbs in today’s fast-paced world. So it is better to know the ultimate guide to nutrition bars. They are synonymous with nutritious, quick, and invigorating cuisine.
Nutrition Bars: Why They’re Not So Healthy
The isolated protein is one of the most often used ingredients in energy bars. Protein isolates, whether they come from soy or whey, are frequently extracted using toxic chemicals like hexane, which has been related to cancer. The Amazon rainforest is being destroyed by soy, which is frequently genetically modified and can have a deleterious impact on hormone levels. Because dairy cows are frequently given antibiotics, hormones, and other medications, it has been discovered that many traditional whey proteins include heavy metals and poisons.
Energy bars can have as much sugar as regular snack meals, even though they may sound healthier than, say, cookies. One Luna bar, for instance, has almost as much sugar as three Oreos.
Energy bars frequently contain stabilizers as an ingredient. Saturated fat content in fractionated oils can reach about 90%. Even while it isn’t as terrible as hydrogenated oil, fractionated palm kernel oil is nonetheless unhealthily obtained, and it frequently comes from regions affected by armed conflicts where slave labor is rampant.
While processed foods contain preservatives to produce a fresh-tasting and “un-stale” product, freshness is defined as “not preserved”; this is confusing, isn’t it? And to make matters worse, certain preservatives have been linked to cancer, some types of allergies, and neurological and behavioral problems.
Even while a tiny bar in foil can seem convenient, packaging waste has a negative impact on the environment, consumes resources like fresh water, and causes pollution.
Unsavory Substances in Your Nutrition Bars
Although they are quite handy for mid- or even post-run nourishment, how healthy are energy and protein bars really? We carefully examined the ingredient list, looking past the claims on the label, and were quite surprised by what we discovered. We’re talking about emulsifiers and fillers, which can result in weight gain, gastric issues, and sugar crashes. Or, to put it another way, exactly what you’re trying to prevent. Learn about these ten ingredients before you purchase another bar.
Soy Protein Isolate (SPI)
While soy protein isolate is more like a Twix bar than tofu, some people praise it for being a high-quality protein with an amino acid profile similar to meat. This is really processed soy garbage, according to Lauren Slayton, MS, RD, author of The Little Book of Thin. “All soy is not created equal. Hexane, aluminum, and other neurotoxins can be left behind during the “isolation” of soy protein. Higher levels of trypsin inhibitors may also induce digestive problems by preventing the breakdown of plant protein. Additionally, almost 90% of all soy is genetically altered.
Asparagus, onions, and artichokes contain inulin, a soluble fiber that acts as a prebiotic to aid in digestion and the growth of healthy gut bacteria. To increase the fiber content, chicory root is used to extract the inulin that is included in most energy bars. According to McKel Hill, MS, RD, founder of the healthy lifestyle and recipe website Nutrition Stripped, when ingested in high quantities, it can actually have the opposite effect of encouraging healthy digestion—it can cause upset stomach, diarrhea, gas, bloating, or constipation.
High-Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)
HFCS is a chemically produced sweetener that, as a result of its high fructose content, has been associated in studies with weight gain, an increase in belly fat, and insulin resistance. It is produced by adding enzymes to corn syrup to convert its glucose into fructose. High-fructose corn syrup is typically a sign that the manufacturer of the bar doesn’t value premium ingredients. Furthermore, fructose does little to curb appetite, according to a study by scientists at Yale School of Medicine, because it doesn’t alert the brain when the stomach is full.
Agave should not be confused with a “natural” sweetener. Furthermore, it contains more fructose than high-fructose corn syrup, which has been associated in studies to obesity, diabetes, and fatty liver disease. This sugar is not only one of the most refined ones available. Fructose excess is easily converted to body fat. Leptin, a hormone that regulates hunger and satiety, can also be turned off.
A manufactured food additive called soy lecithin makes things stay together. Stick with organic and non-GMO foods because soy is one of many that tends to be heavily processed and grown genetically modified.
Brown Rice Syrup
Even while brown rice syrup is a better alternative to high-fructose corn syrup, it shouldn’t be mistaken for a nutritious product, especially if it appears first on the ingredient list. Additionally, a 2012 study by experts at Dartmouth University found that bars that are topped with brown rice syrup may contain significant concentrations of potentially dangerous arsenic.
Like other artificial sweeteners, sucralose is extremely sweet to the palate, and the more of it we consume, the sweeter we crave. The trade name Splenda, a no-calorie sugar alternative, may also interfere with the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar by spiking insulin levels, which might result in cravings for carbohydrates. Last but not least, heart disease and diabetes have been linked to artificial sweeteners.
Fractionated Palm Kernel Oil
Don’t be duped by the name’s tropical sound. According to Wendy Brazilian, RD, author of The SuperFoodsRx Diet, fractionated palm oil is palm oil that has undergone a procedure to separate the liquid from the solid portion of the oil. The end result is a fat that is more shelf-stable and less evaporative, which is ideal for the chocolate coating on bars but basically eliminates the potentially beneficial components. More saturated fats are produced as a result of this processing than in butter and ordinary palm kernel oil. It is associated with deforestation and the degradation of animal habitats on the environmental front.
In reality, natural flavors aren’t all that natural. According to the Environmental Working Group’s Food Scores database of over 80,000 foods, they are the fourth most frequently listed ingredient on labels. Despite coming from natural sources, they are modified in a lab by being extracted, heated, distilled, or chemically altered, then added back into the food during the production process. We want to avoid natural tastes since they are difficult to identify and because we have no means of knowing what they are.
Sugar alcohols have less calories than sugar and have less of an effect on blood sugar levels. They are listed on labels as erythritol, mannitol, sorbitol, xylitol, lactitol, isomalt, and hydrogenated starch hydrolysates (HSH). Because sugar alcohols are difficult to digest, they can result in gas, bloating, and diarrhea. They are used to sweeten bars without increasing the calorie content. Studies have found that erythritol is the easiest sugar to digest, so if you’ve had issues in the past, stick to this low-calorie sugar.
In conclusion, Nutrition Bars can simply be included in a healthy lifestyle and readily fit into handbags, backpacks, or briefcases. The trick is to utilize nutrition bars as supplements, not as a substitute for healthy eating, to balance a diet of complete foods. As opposed to meals, when you should balance your plate with veggies, fruits, lean protein, whole grains, and healthy fats, nutrition bars work best as snacks. However, snacks can help bridge the gap between meals or give you a boost of energy for your daily activity. A satisfying snack that combines protein and fiber is something like low-fat yogurt with fresh fruit mixed in, almond butter spread on slices of pear, or a well-chosen nutrition bar.
With their vast range of calories and ingredients, the numerous nutrition bar variants on the market can be overwhelming, but a little research can help you avoid buying bars that are really candy bars. It is better to know what are the best and worst nutrition bars for your health. Choose a nutrition bar that satisfies the following good requirements.