The Truth About Nutrition Bars

The Truth About Nutrition Bars

In a recent study published by consumerlabs.com 30 nutrition bars were broken down/analyzed and over 60% of the bars failed to meet labeling claims! What is really in your “health or nutrition bar”?

Thank you to Rachel for the suggestion on this topic.

Meal replacement bars, snack bars, weight loss bars, energy bars, and protein bars are a convenient and easy way for people to get a quick snack or meal when they are on the go. The problem is that 99% of the products out there are loaded with carbs and sugars that spike insulin levels and promote fat storage. Despite the hidden ingredients and artificial additives, marketing gurus have duped consumers into thinking that these “nutrition bars” are an excellent source of vitamins and minerals when in reality this is far from the truth. The FDA claims that it currently does not have any formal guidelines for nutrition bars or the labeling on nutrition bars.

The Breakdown

“Protein Bar” is an extremely deceptive term.  Most bars contain more carbs than protein. The consumer labs study found that a typical bar is made up of

  • 49% of calories from carbohydrates (mostly from sugars)
  • 29% of calories from protein
  • 22% of calories from fat
What To Stay Away From 
Clif Bars
The concern here is the 45 grams of carbs and 21 grams of sugar (for comparison a snickers bar has 35 grams of carbs and 28 sugars). If you are not an endurance athlete than that amount of carbs in the form of a small snack is way to high. Ever notice how the Clif Bar rapper conveniently covers the ingredient list. Here is why. With over 30 ingredients, it is hard to decipher what exactly the bar is made up of.  Organic rice syrup, evaporated cane juice, organic evaporated can juice, organic date paste, are all fancy names for sugar that make up this so-called “nutrition bar”. While ingredients like evaporated cane juice are not as detrimental to refined sugar, it is close enough.
The Take Away– Stay away from Clif bars
Atkins Advantage Bar
With Atkins Advantage you get more bang for you buck because the lower carb and sugar levels. You also get a solid 15 grams of protein with only 210 calories. The unfortunate part is the saturated fat and ingredients. With over 50 ingredients, there are several hidden land mines such as glycerin, sucralose, cellulose, artificial flavors, which are all code names for SUGARS!
The take away- Eat only if there is no whole/unprocessed foods available like fruit or nuts.
Nature Valley Bar
I commend General Mills for their bold and forthright honesty. They are not trying to hide anything. The second ingredient is SUGAR! With high levels of carbohydrates and sugar, nature valley bars have nothing “natural” about them. High fructose corn syrup and brown sugar syrup are two ingredients that have single handily added to the obesity problems in the US.
The take away- Don’t even think about it
Power Bars
This label is also very informative as it provides the disclaimer that the FDA has no regulation over these “health bars”. With 45 carbs,  27 grams of sugar, ingredients such as evaporated cane juice, glucose syrup, and fructose, a power bar is basically a glorified candy bar. At least they have less than 30 ingredients as opposed to some of the other examples listed right?
The take away- If you are going to have something with the nutritional equivalent of a candy bar why not actually have a candy bar that tastes great? Opt for a snickers or twix instead.
Why so much sugar?

In their early development, nutrition bars were bland and primarily eaten by fitness enthusiasts. However, the bars underwent a transformation to appeal to general consumers. The bland, stiff, and protein packed bars didn’t necessarily appeal to the general population. To compensate, manufacturers made their products more flavorful by adding corn syrup, sugar, sugar alcohols, artificial sweeteners, artificial flavors, colors and hydrogenated oils, which are all bad for your health.

What To Eat Instead

Kind Bar

Definitely the best nutrition bar out there. The calorie, carbohydrate, protein, and sugar content is a well-balanced mixture that can provide an adequate snack  in between meals. What I love about these bars is the simplicity of the ingredients and the natural additives. Unlike the rest of the bars, you don’t see a list of 30 ingredients with names that are too long to pronounce.

The take away– A good snack that offers a variety from eating nuts or dried fruits by themselves or with trail mix.

Conclusion

As a general guideline, the less ingredients the better. Eating something in its most natural state is always your best bet. The best example I can think of is a product like peanut butter. When buying peanut butter look for one ingredient, PEANUTS! Avoid products with ingredients other than peanuts like what you see in most commercial products.  For example, Jif regular peanut butter’s list of ingredients includes peanuts, salt, sugar, fully hydrogenated vegetable oils, and diglycerides. I never encourage people to eat anything processed like nutrition bars but I understand there or some times when nothing else is available. If that is the case, choose something like a KIND Bar where there are only a few ingredients or prepare ahead and always carry around some nuts and fruits.

Thanks for reading and let me know if you have any comments or questions.

From South Bend,

Kevin
Advertisements

Balance Your Day With These Great Meals

Balance Your Day With These Great Meals

According to MayoClinic.com, eating more frequently reduces your risk of obesity by decreasing the blood insulin response to long fasts that increase fat storage and weight gain. It’s important to plan your grazing to ensure you eat the right amount of calories and get the vitamins and minerals you need over the span of 14-18 hours.

16 ounces of cold water

  • The first thing I do when I wake up is have 16 ounces of cold water. Water is the most important nutrient for your body and sleeping 6-10 hours without fluid intake induces mild dehydration.
  • Studies show that drinking cold water can increase metabolism as much as 25% for 2 hours after finishing.

 Breakfast

Half a grapefruit- Grapefruits are high in enzymes that burn fat. They have high amounts of water content which helps boost metabolism as well as containing numerous antioxidants.

  1. Calories- 40
  2. Carbs- 9g
  3. Fat- 0g
  4. Protein- 1g
  5. Sodium-0g
  6. Sugar-5g

2 eggs scrambled & chicken breast- Eggs and chicken are great sources of lean protein that are loaded with vitamins and minerals. Studies show that a breakfast high in protein will keep you feeling full throughout the morning. 

  1. Calories- 300
  2. Carbs- 0g
  3. Fat- 13 g
  4. Protein- 37 g
  5. Sodium-270g
  6. Sugar-0g

Vegetable mix broccoli, cauliflower, carrot, & hummus- Vegetables in the morning allow you to get a good balance of vitamins and minerals to start of your day. Vegetables mixed with the healthy fats from the hummus can help stabilize blood sugar levels.

  1. Calories- 180
  2. Carbs- 25g
  3. Fat- 3 g
  4. Protein- 8 g
  5. Sodium-250g
  6. Sugar-9g

100% Organic arabica black coffeeCoffee beans are loaded with antioxidants that help combat cancer and prevent type 2 diabetes. 

  1. Calories- 5
  2. Carbs- 0g
  3. Fat- 0g
  4. Protein- 0 g
  5. Sodium-0g
  6. Sugar-0g

Mid Morning Snack 

Plain greek yogurt with whey protein/flaxseed – With twice the protein of normal yogurt and no preservatives or artificial flavors, greek yogurt paired with flaxseed and whey protein is a great source of probiotics and omega 3 fatty acids.

  1. Calories- 300
  2. Carbs- 12g
  3. Fat- 4g
  4. Protein- 38 g
  5. Sodium-100 g
  6. Sugar-11g
Kiwi-Kiwi fruits are rich in many vitamins, flavonoids and minerals. In particular, they contain a high amount of vitamin C (more than oranges), as much potassium as bananas and a good amount of beta-carotene.
  1. Calories- 50
  2. Carbs- 11g
  3. Fat- 0g
  4. Protein- 1 g
  5. Sodium-0 g
  6. Sugar-7g

Lunch

Steel cut oats/quinoa with walnuts/chia seeds/mixed berries/cinnamon- This oatmeal blend is a great source of slow digesting carbohydrates that can be used for energy. The walnuts/berries/cinnamon provide healthy fats and potent antioxidants. For more info see on this meal see http://www.builtlean.com/2012/03/14/steel-cut-oats-recipe/

  1. Calories- 390
  2. Carbs- 35 g
  3. Fat- 5 g
  4. Protein- 11 g
  5. Sodium-60 g
  6. Sugar-10g

Edamame- Soy beans are a great alternative source of protein and dietary fiber superstar. 

  1. Calories- 120
  2. Carbs- 10 g
  3. Fat- 5 g
  4. Protein- 11 g
  5. Sodium- 5 g
  6. Sugar-2 g

Post Workout

10 g of Branch Chain Amino Acids (during workout)BCAA’s support everything from anabolic muscle-building to high intensity endurance training and are among the 9 essential amino acids that help fuel muscle repair and recovery. 

100% Whey isolate protein (unflavored/no additives) with glutamine– A great source of protein with no added sugars or artificial flavors you get with most products. Glutamine helps minimize breakdown of muscle and improve protein metabolism

  1. Calories- 120
  2. Carbs- 1 g
  3. Fat- 0 g
  4. Protein- 25 g
  5. Sodium- 30 g
  6. Sugar-1 g

Banana-Eating food rich in carbohydrates, like a banana, between 15 and 60 minutes after a workout is most advantageous to your muscles and glycogen recovery. The nutrition-rich fruit contains potassium, carbohydrates, protein and vitamin C.

  1. Calories- 100
  2. Carbs- 27 g
  3. Fat- 0 g
  4. Protein- 1 g
  5. Sodium- 0 g
  6. Sugar-14 g

Mid Afternoon Snack

Broccoli with natural almond butter- Broccoli is a nutritional powerhouse with noteworthy nutrients including vitamin a, c, beta-carotene, calcium, folic acid, and fiber. Pair this with healthy monounsaturated fats and the protein you get with almond butter makes this combination a great snack.

  1. Calories 210
  2. Carbs- 12 g
  3. Fat- 16 g
  4. Protein- 10 g
  5. Sodium- 80 g
  6. Sugar-3 g

Tea (Chinese oolong)-Tea is loaded with catechins which is essential in aiding your immune system and can reduce the risk of four of the major health problems: stroke, heart failure, cancer and diabetes.

Dinner

Wild Atlantic Salmon-Salmon is a great source of omega 3 fatty acids, vitamins A, B and D as well as the minerals calcium, iron, phosphorus and selenium. This is also an excellent source of lean protein. 

  1. Calories 300
  2. Carbs- 0 g
  3. Fat- 20 g
  4. Protein- 35 g
  5. Sodium- 100 g
  6. Sugar-0 g

Brussels sprouts/mushroom/onion mix-Brussels sprouts are  high in protein, accounting for more than a quarter of their calories. The sprouts are very high in fiber and belong to the disease-fighting cabbage  family.

  1. Calories 120
  2. Carbs- 10 g
  3. Fat- 0 g
  4. Protein- 10 g
  5. Sodium- 10 g
  6. Sugar-4 g

Spinach salad with tomatoes/mixed peppers/avocado/flaxseed- Spinach is another super-food that should be apart of everyone’s daily regimen in combination with antioxidant loaded mixed peppers/tomatoes and the healthy fats from avocado and flaxseed make this a great side.

  1. Calories 150
  2. Carbs- 7 g
  3. Fat- 10 g
  4. Protein- 10 g
  5. Sodium- 30 g
  6. Sugar-10 g
Nightime Snack
Cottage CheeseCottage cheese before bed gives you an excellent source of casein protein which is a slow absorbing protein that will help your muscles recover over night. 
  1. Calories 100
  2. Carbs- 0 g
  3. Fat- 2 g
  4. Protein- 15 g
  5. Sodium- 400 g
  6. Sugar-5 g

Thanks for reading and let me know if you have any questions or comments.

From South Bend,

Kevin

 

Ten Foods You Should Add To Your Diet

Ten Foods You Should Add To Your Diet 

These foods are probably foreign to most people however, they all pack a nutritional punch in terms of health benefits. Try and add a couple of these foods to your daily regimen for a more well-balanced diet. First, a great quote to start out the blog post that really puts things into perspective and something that really resonates for me right now in dealing with an injury.

To feel better, imagine the worst.  “Dont count your blessings; subtract them. “consciously spend a few minutes imagining what your life would be like without the good things. You’ll experience stronger feelings of love, gratitude, and happiness when you think about what life would be like without the people and things you love and, they’ll seem surprising and special again.”

-Psychologist Timothy Wilson

Exotic Berries- Goji and Acai

These two berries are super antioxidants that are loaded with several substances called anthocyanins and flavonoids. They work wonders on your immune system and help reduce the risk of some diseases, such as heart disease and cancer.

Benefits (Acai)

  • Loaded with antioxidants. (Twice the antioxidants of its cousin blueberries and 10 times more than red grapes)
  • Rich acai berries destroy cultured human cancer cells.
  • Provide an increase in energy.
  • Resistance to colds/flu.
  • Healthy and more youthful skin.
  • Promotion of weight loss.
  • High levels of omega 6 and omega 9 fatty acids, which help the heart and cardiovascular systems.
  • A powerful anti aging food.
Benefits (Goji)
  • A high concentration of antioxidants.
  • Helps to slow down premature aging.
  • 10 times more antioxidants than red grapes and 10 to 30 times the anthocyanins of red wine.
  • A synergy of monounsaturated (healthy) fats.
  • Loaded with dietary fiber and phytosterols to help promote cardiovascular and digestive health.
  • A great amino acid complex.
  • Vital to proper muscle contraction and regeneration.


Edamame

Also known as the soybean, edamame is a natural source of antioxidants that is made up of anywhere between 30% and 40% protein. A half-cup of these beans can have up to 11 grams of protein and are one of the few vegetarian proteins sources that have all nine of the essential amino acids the body can’t make. The fat in edamame is the heart-healthy kind, polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats that help to lower cholesterol levels.

Benefits 

  • Great source of fiber.
  • Rich in vitamins B,C, and E.
  • Rich in magnesium, calcium, and iron.
  • Helps reduce risk of heart disease.
  • Improves bone health.
  • Help reduce certain types of cancer.

Bok Choy

Bok choy is a member of the cabbage family that is loaded with antioxidants and can help aid in digestion. One cup of raw bok choy contains about half your daily requirement of Vitamin A, C, and K, while being low in fat, low-calorie, and low-carb.

Benefits

  • High in vitamin A, C, K, B6, calcium, dietary fiber, folate, and iron.
  • Lung, colon, prostate, and endometrial cancers seem to be reduced with bok choy intake.
  • Loaded with beta-carotene  which can help reduce muscular degeneration.

Lean Bison Meat

Bison or buffalo, is a lean protein that contains all the essential amino acids your body cannot produce on its own. Buffalo offers an alternative to other commonly eaten lean proteins such as chicken breast, turkey, and pork tenderloin. In looking at the comparison table you can see it has more protein with fewer calories, less fat, and is lower in cholesterol than other protein sources.

Benefits

  • Bison spend their lives on grass and are generally not subjected to questionable drugs, chemicals, or hormones.
  • A nutrient dense food because of the proportion in protein, fat, mineral, and fatty acids, to its caloric value.
  • Has a greater concentration of iron than other meats.
  • No growth hormones, steroids, or sub-therapeutic antibiotics. These animals are both environmentally friendly and people friendly.

Quinoa

Quinoa, considered the “mother of all grains”, is a complete protein, packing all the essential amino acids your body needs to build muscle. Quinoa has about twice the protein of regular cereal grains, fewer carbohydrates, and even a dose of healthy fats. This is great gluten-free alternative to wheat carbohydrates.

Benefits

  • An awesome alternative to the proteins found in meat.
  • Entirely gluten-free.
  • A very good source of magnesium, folate, and phosphorus.
  • Great source of fiber that can provide cardiovascular health and lower the risk of type 2 diabetes.

Canned Salmon

Canned salmon is a quick and easy way to get 1 of your 3 recommended servings of fish per week. Like other varieties of canned fish, canned salmon is a convenient protein source that contains healthy monounsaturated fats with no sugars or carbohydrates and contains lower mercury levels than canned tuna.

Benefits

  • A good source of  B-vitamins, especially vitamin B12.
  • Very low in environmental contaminants such as mercury and pesticide residues.
  • Contains an abundance of nutrients that protect your bones, prevent cardiovascular disease, and help keep you mentally sharp.
  • One cup of canned salmon provides almost 30% of the 1,000 mg of calcium you need each day.

Venison

Like bison meat, venison is a great low-saturated fat alternative to generic red meats. Venison comes from any large game animal like deer, elk, moose, or caribou. Venison is low in cholesterol and like any non-farm produced animal, is resistant to disease and does not live on a diet of antibiotics and steroids.

Benefits 

  • Venison houses fewer calories, less fat, and more iron than chicken breast.
  • Rich in various nutrients including proteins, iron, vitamin B12, B6, riboflavin, and niacin.
  • A great option for those who are vulnerable to heart disease.
  • Can help increase energy and boost your metabolism.

Cottage Cheese

Cottage cheese is an excellent snack that is low in fat and carbohydrates, but packed with protein. Cottage cheese is a favorite food among athletes, weightlifters, and dieters for its high content of casein protein, or slow digesting protein. Research suggests that cottage cheese makes a great late night snack to allow your body to utilize the slow digesting protein while you sleep and can also help your muscles to recover.

Benefits

  • A good course of calcium, with vitamin D.
  • Great source of casein protein.
  • Helps control your appetite.
  • Great nighttime snack to keep you from feeling hungry while you sleep.

Spaghetti Squash

Comparison of  spaghetti squash noodles to one cup of enriched white spaghetti

Spaghetti squash is a great alternative to high-glycemic carbs that are associated with most white and wheat pastas. Spaghetti squash gives you the advantage of not spiking your insulin and is relatively low in carbohydrates. The low caloric value will allow you too add more natural ingredients to your spaghetti, such as more proteins and vegetables, versus getting calories from processed white or wheat noodles.

Benefits

  • Rich in omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids.
  • High levels of vitamin A and C, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, folate, beta carotene, and more.
  • Can promote brain function while inhibiting inflammation.
  • Great alternative to high-carb/high calorie pastas.

Chia Seeds

There was a great article this week in the Wall Street Journal about Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice and how he lives and dies by chia seeds… Seems like my kind of guy. Chia seeds are another complete source of dietary protein, providing all the essential amino acids. They can make a great addition to your morning oatmeal or shake.

Benefits

  • Highest plant-based source of omega 3’s.
  • Rich in dietary fiber and protein.
  • Doesn’t carry the health concerns of flax seeds.
  • Naturally gluten-free.
  • Large amounts of B-vitamins and calcium.
  • Chia seeds are hydrophilic, meaning they hold around 10 times their weight in water. For athletes, this is a good thing, helping hydration during exercise.

Adding these foods to your diet will give you some great nutritional benefits and help you to yield greater results whether you are trying to gain weight, lose weight, or maintain a healthy balance. Thanks for reading.

From Norway,

Kevin

kdeeth21@gmail.com