Friday, October 21, 2011

Are Protein Bars Just A Disguised Candy Bar? by Robert D. Franklin

You couldn't even count the number of "health bars" that are on the market today. Knowing that, how would you know if you're actually buying something healthy or just disguised junk food?

Just like the subject previously reviewed on choosing grocery store food, it's important know how to read labels if you're going to go up against the challenge of finding a true healthy food bar. Really, most of the nutrition bars out there are pure junk food... candy bars masked through health food bar label.

Just recently, a friend of mine and I rushed through a convenience store to pick up a snack for a ride we were going on that day. He quick picked me a "health bar," or so he assumed. Well, he assumed WRONG! That so-called health bar would be WORSE for you than a candy bar. Yuck.

The 1st ingredient in these "weight loss" bars is corn syrup! Then the 2nd ingredient is sugar (yay more sugar!), followed by hydrogenated oils (trans fats), and then the list went on with nothing but junk such as artificial flavors, colors, more hydrogenated oils, nasty artificial sweeteners, and rounded out with some highly processed soy protein isolate just to give your body some more junk.

*In truth, you should stay away from processed soy products like its the plague if you care about your health due to the dangers of eating too much of it...but that's another whole article later.

Again, reverting back to the "worse for you than candy bars" health bar... not only are they a nutritional disaster, but the taste is horrible, like chemicals, and too overly sweet. A prime example of the "over-engineering" of food.

So how do you determine a healthy nutrition bar?

Look for simplicity in a good bar. Many of the healthiest and tastiest bars found out there have only a couple basic ingredients such as nuts, seeds, and fruit. Also look for organic ingredients and raw ingredients if possible.

A couple of my favorite true health bars:

1. Organic Food Bars - This is actually the brand name.

Depending on which flavor, these are usually a base of organic almond butter (or cashew butter) with a certain type of fruit, organic seeds, organic biosprouts (quinoa, etc), and some organic rice protein. Some flavors include an organic dark chocolate as well. They also have a line of bars that use exclusively raw ingredients.

Not only are these extremely nutritious, but delicious as well and have many flavors to choose from like blueberry, cranberry, chocolate chip, high protein, and more.

You won't find these bars at your local grocery store, but you may find them at Whole Foods, Trader Joes, and several health food markets.

2. Lara-bars - These are even simpler in ingredients than organic food bars. Usually larabars are just 2 or 3 ingredients, and mostly raw... a blend of crushed nuts along with a type of fruit is the usual combination, but they have several flavors so it can vary.

These are also delish and you would NEVER see a list of chemicals a mile long in their ingredients. It's usually nuts and fruit...that's it! Believe me, simple IS much better. Again, you may find these bars at various health food markets.

3. Prograde Cravers - These are made by Prograde Nutrition. Definitely some of the tastiest nutrition bars ever tasted. They are also made with all organic ingredients using nut butters, rice protein, organic dark chocolate, etc.

You actually can't get these in any stores, but you can get these online at Prograde Cravers.

If and when you actually find truly healthy nutrition bars like those mentioned above, they make great snacks while you're traveling or at work or even for a quick pick-me-up energy bar any time of the day.

There are some toted in my bag now just to make sure healthy options to eat are at my fingertips. That way, the temptation of fast food places or junk food vending machines don't creep my way. Remember, you have the power to choose to live better, live healthier.