Black-Listed Food: Protein Bars

RIP Date: 3/1/2017

I previously felt that protein bars were healthy; like even diet-worthy. I ate a variety of them, but my favorites were the Zone Perfect Chocolate Peanut Butter bars. Other ones I ate regularly were Nature’s Valley Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate bars and Fiber One Peanut Butter bars. Are you sensing a theme here?

I’ve even had my share of Atkins bars, and feel they should contribute to the conversation, but don’t want to make this all about them because they were definitely in the minority of protein bars I have consumed. I can’t imagine what I was ever thinking to eat Atkins bars and their “sugar alcohols”. It sure sounded like a great way to enjoy sugar without the side effects, but I have since changed my mind on that. I used to think that the warnings about these products causing gas and how they could have laxative properties was an acceptable side effect! That’s crazy thinking, if I do say so myself.

On March 1, 2017, I had my last protein bar, it was the Zone Perfect Chocolate Peanut Butter bar. This happened after I finished the Whole30, where my body got used to quality “real food” protein. Let me just say, my body was incredibly let down by this protein bar. It didn’t even taste good. In fact, it tasted so bad, I went through my stockpile at work, threw many away and brought home the ones my teenage son would eat (they’re still better than candy bars, and he hasn’t seen the light on healthy eating yet, so he’s still a fan). I’m not judging my son or anyone else who happens to like protein bars, but for me, I would rather eat chicken, egg, tuna, or even natural peanut or almond butter for my protein.

Here are the ingredients in Zone Perfect Chocolate Peanut Butter bars (from their website), which I looked into after deciding I didn’t want to eat them anymore. Actually, this is the reason I got on the ingredient kick in the first place: Soy Protein Nuggets (Soy Protein Isolate, Tapioca Starch, Salt), Peanut Butter Fudge (Corn Syrup, Invert Sugar, Peanut Butter [Peanuts, Sugar, Salt], Sugar, Palm Kernel Oil, Peanut Flour, Milk Protein Isolate, Soy Lecithin, Salt, Vanilla Extract, Xanthan Gum, Carob Seed Gum, Beta-Carotene), Chocolate Flavored Coating (Sugar, Fractionated Palm Kernel Oil, Cocoa Powder, Whey Powder, Nonfat Milk Powder, Soy Lecithin, Natural Vanilla Flavor), Corn Syrup, Acacia Gum, Fructose Syrup, Peanut Butter, Peanut Flour, Peanuts. Less than 2% of the Following: Glycerine, Soy Protein Isolate, Natural Flavor, Calcium Phosphate, Salt, and Vitamin & Mineral Blend (Calcium Phosphate, Ascorbic Acid [Vit. C], Magnesium Oxide, dl-Alpha-Tocopheryl Acetate [Vit. E], Niacinamide [Vit. B3], Zinc Oxide, Calcium Pantothenate [Vit. B5], Ferrous Fumarate [Iron], Pyridoxine Hydrochloride [Vit. B6], Vitamin A Palmitate, Riboflavin [Vit. B2], Thiamine Mononitrate [Vit. B1], Folic Acid [Vit. B9], Chromium Chloride, Biotin [Vit. B7], Sodium Selenite, Sodium Molybdate, Cyanocobalamin [Vit. B12]).

Here is the Nature’s Valley Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate bars, containing 10g of protein: roasted peanuts, soy protein isolate, chicory root extract, semisweet chocolate chips (sugar, chocolate liquor, cocoa butter, soy lecithin, natural flavor), vegetable oils (palm kernal, palm, canola, peanut), sugar, corn syrup, whey protein concentrate, fructose, peanut butter (peanuts, salt), cocoa, vegetable glycerin, rice starch, soy lecithin, salt, corn starch, natural flavor.

Here is the Fiber One Peanut Butter bars, containing 6g of protein: Chicory Root Extract, Sugar, Palm Kernel and Palm Oil, Rice Flour, Whey Protein Concentrate, Soy Protein Isolate, Whole Grain Oats, Partially Defatted Peanut Flour, Corn Syrup, Roasted Peanuts, Soybean Oil, Cocoa processed with Alkali, Vegetable Glycerin, Dextrin, Rice Starch, Peanut Butter (Peanuts, Salt), Salt, Maltodextrin, Canola Oil, Soy Lecithin, Nonfat Dry Milk, Peanut Oil, Barley Malt Extract, Natural and Artificial Flavor, Fructose, Baking Soda, Caramel Color, Mixed Tocopherols added to retain freshness. Contains peanut, milk and soy; may contain wheat ingredients.

I’m not trying to see that all of these ingredients are bad, it’s just that you’re getting a lot more than protein when you eat protein bars. You’re getting some added nutrients in some of them, which is nice, but you’re also getting a lot of “processed” all for minimal protein. For comparison, 4oz of chicken has ~30g of protein, and it contains, well, chicken.

I’ll let you decide for yourself, but for me the choice is clear!

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