With all of the products on the market, it can be difficult to know what to look for when choosing a protein bar. I don’t know about you, but I often feel overwhelmed standing in front of the huge selection, not to mention then sifting through the list of ingredients on each package! I have often found myself frustrated, but I have learned a few tricks to understand what ingredients I should be avoiding when choosing a protein bar.
1. High-Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)
I am sure you are all aware that HFCS (often labeled as ‘glucose/fructose’) should be an ingredient you avoid when choosing a protein bar, but it’s worth repeating! HFCS is rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream, which sends insulin levels soaring through the roof and increases fat storage. Consumed on a regular basis it has been shown to contribute to major health implications such as obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease – so keep this ingredient off the back of your protein bar!
2. Agave Syrup
Under the impression it was healthy, I used to use pay no attention to agave syrup when I looking through the shelf of protein bars… Often swapped for HFCS in many health products and recipes, this unassuming ingredient reacts in your body just like it’s harmful substitute! In an effort to keep your body’s insulin levels humming steady, you definitely want to avoid this ingredient. Do not assume that being sold at a health food store means it’s ‘healthy’ and make sure you check for agave syrup in your protein bar.
3. Artificial Sweeteners
When I began to reduce sugar from my diet, I went directly to artificial sweeteners as the answer – boy was I wrong! When your body receives this unrecognized substance it expects nutrition is following, but since there are no calories in artificial sweeteners, it only leads to more cravings for that sugar fix! If that isn’t compelling enough, consumption has also been linked to digestive ailments like bloating, gas, diarrhea and headaches – ugh!
4. Hydrogenated Palm Kernel Oil
Making regular appearances in protein bars and numerous other products is hydrogenated palm kernel oil. Now I’m an advocate for consuming healthy fats on a daily basis, but you should be aware that not all fats are created equal. Hydrogenated palm kernel oil is extracted by using chemical solvents and high temperatures creating a substance that should be kept clear from any healthy diet!
5. Ingredients You Can’t Pronounce
There is often a list of ingredients that I can’t read when reviewing the shelf of protein bars and that is evidence to me that if I can’t understand them, then my body probably can’t either! Turns out I was right… often those unpronounceable ingredients are lab-made chemical preservatives that help make products last for years, but doesn’t do a thing for your health. Steer clear of any words you can’t pronounce when looking for a protein bar – your body will thank you!
Regularly appearing in health food products such as protein bars, we should all be aware that soy is far from a health food. Soy protein, soy isolate and soy oil show up in more than half of foods on the market and have been shown to impact fertility levels and have a negative effect on estrogen in women. Consumed by our younger generation, soy can even trigger early puberty in children. Try to steer clear of this ingredient in all packaged foods, especially that protein bar!
7. ‘Natural’ Flavouring
Don’t assume ‘natural’ allows it to be categorized as a health food. ‘Natural’ is not a regulated a term; therefore, companies have free range to use chemical substances and other harmful products when creating them. Your best bet is to avoid this term and choose products with flavouring that you can understand.
The best defense against ending up with a protein bar that is full of harmful ingredients is to choose the products that have only a handful of ingredients, all of which you can pronounce! In an effort to keep on track with that healthy diet and fitness routine you have incorporated, steer clear of these seven ingredients when choosing your next protein-packed snack! What tricks do you have for defending yourself against the daunting protein bar selection?