The makers of snack bars – also euphemistically called health, nutrition, energy, or power bars – lead you to believe they are the perfect snack containing the optimal balance of protein, carbs, and fats.
It's easy to believe them and fall into this trap. They are convenient, transportable, and many are as tasty as a candy bar. But their ingredients are so bad, eating a candy bar – especially some dark chocolate - is a much healthier alternative!
This Perfect Snack Bar is Perfectly Awful
My snack bar of choice used to be Dark Chocolate Almond ZonePerfect bar. The ingredients in this "perfect" bar are perfectly awful. There are over 50 ingredients on the label, which right there should be raise a red flag. (Just to compare, Ghiardelli's 60% dark chocolate contains 6 ingredients and all things you could expect to find in a chocolate bar).
Let’s take a look at a few of the worst offenders on this label.
First, how many ways can you say “sugar”? The ingredient label lists sugar (twice), corn syrup, fructose syrup, fructose, and corn maltodextrin.
How about unhealthy vegetable oils? There’s fractionated palm kernel oil (separated by heat), sunflower oil, high oleic safflower, and sunflower oil.
Then there’s isolated soy protein which is highly processed, stripped of nutrients, bathed in chemicals, hard to digest, and usually genetically modified.
A very deceptive trick used on these labels is to list ingredients within ingredients. For example, it contains "chocolate flavored coating" with ingredients for that hidden in parenthesis. This is a way they can divvy up the amount of sugar so it doesn't appear high on the list of ingredients.
Is it possible to be addicted to energy bars? I think it is. Google "energy bars addictive" and you'll see thousands of search results with others asking this same question.
Most of these bars are a "whose who" of foods suspected of being allergens or additive like soy, wheat, corn syrup, and sugar.
For most people it starts innocently enough, sticking one in a gym bag for an emergency or taking one with on a hike, all seems reasonable.
But when you find yourself grabbing them in place of a healthy meal, you may be in trouble. It got so bad for me that I brought them along on vacations to places known for their culinary delights like Italy and Paris. How addicted is that?
When I decided to quit eating energy bars, I found that I was less hungry throughout the day almost immediately.
Easy Guilt-Free Snack Recipe
I still like my sweet treats, however. I came up with this recipe as a guilt-free snack that is nutrition dense and will fill you up instead of making you more hungry.
Healthy No-Bake Double Coconut Fudge
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- 2 tablespoons rice syrup
- 6 tablespoons almond butter
- 4 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 3 tablespoons whey protein powder
- 2 tablespoons shredded coconut
- 2 tablespoons chopped walnuts
- 2 tablespoons raisins
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 packet stevia powder
- Dash of salt
Mix first 3 ingredients together. This works much better if the coconut oil is liquid and the almond butter is at room temperature. Combine all other ingredients. Press into a small, flat container. (A Tupperware container designed to hold a sandwich works perfectly.) Store in the fridge. Once it’s solidified, cut into 9-12 serving size pieces.
If you don't use whey protein, you can substitute it with a healthy dry ingredient of your choice like almond or coconut flour or meal.
This fudge is very rich and a small portion will keep you satisfied. It keeps very well in the fridge but once you serve it, you should eat it immediately.
Vote With Your Wallet
Not all snack bars are unhealthy. Larabars, for example, contain only nuts and dried fruit for most flavors. But I prefer not to support this company. It's owned by General Mills, a company that spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to defeat proposition 37, the GMO labeling initiative, in California.
So before you get "hooked" on any commercial bar, do your homework to see if it's a product and a company you feel good about supporting.