In our fast-paced lives, protein bars have become a quick, readily available snack choice for many people, but it’s important to know that most popular protein bars are high in fat, sugars and artificial sweeteners. Reading labels, and knowing what you are reading, is important here. Sugar in all its forms has over 30 listings. (The average Canadian eats 100 pounds of sugar in a year!).
Artificial sweeteners are another dangerous addition to many protein bars, including aspartame, sorbitol, sucralose, acesulfame potassium, or maltitol, to name a few. And while they are touted as ‘zero calorie’ and ‘no carbs’, it is this very fact that makes them dangerous. Studies show they get lodged in organs and tissues (in particular the digestive area, which as we know is where our immune system originates). As well, artificial sweeteners have been shown to make us hungrier because they do not act on our ‘hunger control area’ and turn it off when appropriate, probably because of the presence of these ’empty calories’. So eating artificial sweeteners can actually lead to over-eating.
Finally, trans fats, which are stabilizers in many popular snack foods, are a dangerous addition to any food and one should take extreme caution with these, given the health risks involved. And while labels are supposed to list them, manufacturers are legally allowed to label anything as having zero trans fats if there is less than 2 grams of trans fats in a serving size. (Look for the word ‘hydrogenated’, another word for trans fats).
If you’re looking for a nutritious snack, whole foods are still your best bet. For me, protein bars aren’t part of my agenda. If I do indulge, it’s only if I’ve left home without my food (which doesn’t happen often), and then I break off a bite (that’s about 1/4 of a protein bar) just to see me through…but that’s it! I simply see them as another chocolate bar, is all (and the protein source is not one that I prefer over my egg whites, meats and such).
I’m a food lover, and a planner. And that makes all the difference in the world!