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Nutrition: Protein Bars

Bars are quite a funny phenomenon over the years, transforming from sugar laden high-calorie treats, to barely edible bricks, to falsely labeled delectables and finally nutritional abortions that taste really good! Back in the 80’s, bars like theSteel bar and others tasted great but had a ton of sugar and corn syrup in order to give them an almost candy bar type appearance They tasted good, but their nutrient profile was lacking for anyone but the most intense hard gainer that needed calories more than nutrition. After the Atkins revolution, we were served up some horrible tasting bars that claimed ZERO sugar and ZERO carbs, which the FDA ultimately called misleading.  These bars contained high amounts of glycerin, which is a high calorie slow digesting sugar like molecule. It was claimed to be zero carb, because it doesn’t spike insulin, but it was shown to still take you out of ketosis, which means that those calories mattered!

After some time, the labels changed on these bars and a new crop of mislabeled bars came into existence.  The first one appeared as a Semi-Snickers bar. I remember taking a detour into my friend Frank’s shop to get one of these beauties. They claimed low sugar, low calories and low carb, but dispite that were oozing with caramel and tasted like a snickers. I remember Frank commenting “Isn’t that the greatest bar you have ever tasted? Something is up…” A few months later reports started to surface about the bar being mislabeled. having more calories and carbs than reported. Some inquiries were made. Oddly enough, I picked up one of these bars are Frank’s place in Detroit and guess what…no more caramel, no more taste…more calories? What happened? Well, when something is too good to be true, it often is…These bars were alleged to contain more fat and sugar than reported and the manufacturer quickly replaced them with bars that tasted like crap. Sadly, this company is still on the market making lousy tasting glycerin bars. The second Fako Bar came out about a year later.  A chef thought that he could make a better bar for the bodybuilding community and he released several flavors of his bar, which was a monstrosity that had 360 calories. I tried the Apple Caramel at Franks shop and even bought a box. It was moist and flavorful with soft pieces of apple and big chunks of caramel. Soon, some inquiries were made into the label claims on these bars and I happened to have one a few months later. The calories somehow ballooned to 460 and when I bit into the bar, the soft gooey caramel was replaced by a rock hard brick that tastes like a gut busting cement bar. What happened?  How did we add 100 calories yet lose so much in taste, texture and flavor?  Hmm…

Welcome to the world of sports supplements, where you can put anything on the label you want and no one knows the better… I only buy supplements from GMP certified manufacturers, which ensures that all of the ingredients are in there and that the product actually meets label claims.

Finally, the industry sort of grew up.  Taking advantage of our American & we don’t care lifestyle, a host of new bars are on the market that taste great, but contain the nutritional profile of an average fast food meal. Sure, they have 25g of protein, but most of them have over 25g of sugars and over 14g of fat.  Check your local fast food joint and you will see that you can get better than that from a chicken sandwich without mayo! I am not a fan of bars for everyday use.  As a meal replacement, they are fine occasionally, but as a protein supplement, you can do WAY better by getting a good shake or a small cottage cheese.

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