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Sandra Wickham Fall Classic Gallery
Do You really know what’s inside your protein bar?
I’ve been working in the sports nutrition industry for over 10 years now and have seen how protein bars have evolved from mid-90#s to the modern-day. Look in any health food store, on-line store, gym and even your high-street chemist and you’ll see a wide selection of protein and nutritional bars available. Quite simply, everyone wants a convenient snack.
When I first began using protein bars I adopted a very simplistic viewpoint, I checked to see the amount of protein stated in the bar and bought on that premise. That was back then, how little did I Know?
Back then it was easy, 30 grams of protein and to hell with how many carbs, fats or additions. I just saw that mythical protein content and knew I’d be building muscle. If only I’d have known know about the real issue of protein bar ingredients, I’d have saved myself money, not to mention hours of gut-churning stomach upsets and other minor health defects, so small we rarely notice the effects.
So what really makes up the majority of protein bars on the market?
- Gelatine- Call it hydrolyzed gelatine, hydrolyzed collagen or whatever you choose, it amounts to the same, left over remains of dead animals hooves, skin, nose, eyes, whatever isn’t generally considered fit for human consumption. Many protein bars use hydrolysed gelatine pretty high up on their ingredient listing, often as high as the second or third protein source. This is pretty disconcerting, especially when it sits in front of whey protein on the ingredient listing. You can be sure that bars like this will have a good few grams (often more) of gelatine mixed in with the blend. Just think about that for a second the next time you bite into a bar high in protein!
- Polyols- Maltitol, sorbitol, glycerol etc- You’ve all picked up the high-protein bars that weigh 80-100 grams in weight, yet when you add up protein, carb and fat grams, something just does not add up right? This is down to the polyol content of many protein bars (also known as sugar alcohols) Polyols contain between 1.5-3 calories per gram, so have a lower calorific-value than carbohydrates. It is known, however, that eating too much of these substances can cause gastro-intestinal discomfort and laxative effects (I’ve had this plenty of times). This is a result of sugar alcohols being poorly taken up from the gastrointestinal tract. In other words, we can’t really digest these babies that well. Sure, they are OK in small amounts, but if you’re like me and always on the go, you’ll be eating a nutrition bar at least once per day, so think twice about what’s really going on inside your digestive tract.
- Hydrogenated fats- Also shown as Hydrogenated vegetable fat- Hydrogenation is a process of turning liquid oil into solid fat. During this process, a type of trans fat may be formed that raises cholesterol levels in the blood. This increases the risk of coronary heart disease. Evidence suggests that this type of trans fats (found in some foods that contain hydrogenated vegetable oil) may have worse effects on the body than saturated fats.
Trans fats really, really should be avoided, yet look on the ingredient listing of many of your favourite protein bars, I guarantee it’ll be there.
- Aspartame- Abdominal Pain, Anxiety attacks, arthritis, asthma, Asthmatic Reactions, Bloating, Edema (Fluid Retention). Just 7 of the 92 side effects linked to the use of aspartame, yet still you may see it somewhere in your protein bar marketed towards increasing health! Bizarre but true.
PhD Nutrition Smart Bar.
When designing the Smart Bar™ I wanted to take protein bar development back to a more healthy time, back to when every ingredient within the bar was not only designed for human consumption, they were designed for health, vitality and aimed at keeping you the consumer strong and muscular. Protein bar manufacturers these days seemed only focussed upon providing more and more protein to fool the consumer into believing they are getting more for their money, when in reality all they are getting for their £3 is a bar that contains unhealthy ingredients and waste produce. Essentially many protein bars today are mere confectionary, designed for taste and outward appearance rather than quality ingredients. PhD Nutrition could have played that game and probably played it very well with a great-selling, great tasting bar. But as an athlete myself, I’m concerned about what I eat as a snack. I don’t want to look on the back of a wrapper and see an ingredient listing lasting 7-8 lines with only whey protein bearing any resemblance to a healthy inclusion.
What’s more we wanted to create a nutrition bar that was easily-affordable and great-tasting, along with being of optimum health. The result is the Smart bar™ and we’re very, very happy we’ve met all the criteria.
Ingredient declaration: Natural Fruit juice, PhD Smart Protein blend (Whey Protein Concentrate, Soy Protein Concentrate, Soy Crispies) Milk Chocolate Flavour Coating (15%) (Sugar, Vegetable fat, Cocoa Powder, Milk Solids, Lecithin), Flavouring, Sodium.