I used to live off energy bars for breakfasts, snacks and sometimes even dinner, until I learned they're made of and what scary ingredients in most energy bars actually do to you. I thought that buying low-carb, low-fat, or special energy enhancing bars meant I was doing something healthy for my body. Now, I look at labels on those products and cringe! If you’re not sure why you should avoid energy bars, then let me fill you in on the scary ingredients in most energy bars and protein bars that most likely you’re consuming. I know they’re convenient, but truly, they’re terrible for your body. Quit wasting your money on a processed energy bar when you could grab an apple and some raw nuts for much less money. You'll also be fuller longer and be eating pure raw foods with no ingredient list at all.Either way,,stay away from these scary ingredients in most protein bars above all else.
1. Soy Protein Isolates
Most protein bars on the market today that aren’t organic will list this as one of the very first ingredients on the nutrition label, and it is one of the worst scary ingredients in most energy bars of all! Soy protein isolates are GMO forms of highly processed soy that do offer a large amount of protein, but at what cost? Well, for starters, this form of soy is very acidic to the body, which leads to inflammation, and it also lowers your thyroid function, which can slow your metabolism and throw your hormones out of whack. If that’s not enough, this form of soy is full of lecithins, which have been shown to increase depression due to their effect on the neurotransmitters in the brain, and this type of processed food has even been linked to various forms of cancer. Stay away from this manmade soy product. It isn’t safe, isn’t good for you, and I don’t care what bodybuilder or skinny fitness model is promoting it, it’s all marketing!
2. Hydrolyzed Soy Protein
This form of soy protein is very allergenic, cheap to make and yes, it is GMO soy as well. It is also a natural source of yeast, so if you have Candida related issues, or are sensitive to yeast infections at all, avoid it. It also causes disruptions to the thyroid glands and can lead to a weakened immune system and metabolism. The only reason it is included is because it is a cheap form of protein that is easy to thicken up enery bars with and slap a high protein label content on it.
3. High Fructose Corn Syrup
By now, so many of you probably already know this is one scary ingredient you need to avoid, I’m actually shocked it is still being used in so many foods today. You would think that companies would realize customers are being more careful about what they eat. Why would you spend $2-$3 on a single serving protein bar only for it to contain the nutrition of a 75 cent candybar? I just don’t get it. Either way, look out for this source of refined sugar on a label. Oh, and by the way, just because it says corn and the corn industry promotes it as natural, it isn’t. You might as well be eating white sugar out of the bag itself. High fructose corn syrup is a leading cause of obesity today, and it is found in many popular name brands of energy bars like Power Bars, Protein Plus bars and other brands out there. Read your labels ladies, and avoid this ingredient like the plague! Sugar isn’t a better option either, so look out for sugar, evaporated cane juice, cane sugar, brown sugar, molasses, and try to stay away from bars that have lots of sugar anyway.
This artificial sweetener is also called Splenda, and it is one of my top ingredients to avoid for one simple reason: it is one molecule away from being chlorine. Yes, that’s right, you heard me correctly, chlorine! Don’t use artificial sweeteners, and don’t let anybody tell you Splenda is healthy. Use stevia if you need a sweetener. It is made from an herb and if you buy pure stevia liquid or powder, it contains no additives, or anything else but the herb itself. It may not be perfect, but it’s at least not scientifically derived.
5. Acesulfame Potassium
This is another artificial sweetener you’re going to want to avoid. It is pretty scary, if I do say so myself! This artificial sweetener is also known as saccharin. It is found in most energy bars and standard protein bars on the market today. It is basically a salt that contains methylene chloride, a known carcinogen to the human body and has been shown to cause long term nausea, headaches, mood problems, liver damage, kidney damage, and possibly cancer and eyesight loss. Other artificial sweeteners to avoid are aspartame, which has been linked to neurological disorders, and even autism. It is also linked to abdominal pain, nausea and depression, along with sugar cravings and headaches. No matter how good they taste, those energy bars are a dumping ground for illness, so ditch them now and especially ditch the artificial sweeteners.
6. Fractionated Palm Kernel Oil
This sounds pretty simple, right? Just some oil, and nothing to worry about, right? Chances are, most people don’t even realize this is even in their energy or protein bars. This is not a healthy fat either, if you’re wondering. Fractionated palm kernel oil is as close to being hydrogenated as you can possibly get without actually being hydrogenated like trans fats are. It is palm oil that is heated and then separated through a processing method that makes it more shelf stable, just like trans fats are. It is also 86% saturated fat. Ditch it now, thank me later!
7. Natural Flavor
Natural flavor- what does that actually mean? Well, this is a great ingredient for any person in the processed foods industry because it’s like an umbrella that can hide the dirty laundry, so to speak. Natural flavor is allowed to be used as a name for over 800 types of processed ingredients in foods such as MSG, GMO soy, gluten, processed yeast, alcohol and a host of other names. If you don’t know what you’re putting in your body through this ingredient, just avoid it altogether.
The best thing to do to avoid having to spend half an hour reading labels on an energy bar or protein bar, is to buy an organic brand if you just have to have one, or grab a whole foods snack instead like plain Greek yogurt and a banana, or some almonds and carrots or an apple. Stick with something simple. Your wallet and your waistline, along with your entire body, will thank you in more ways than you can imagine. Do you ever read the labels on energy bars?