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Joannie doing Fran in the am!

Why can’t I have my snack bars Coach? They’re so convenient and tasty!

We get this question a lot.  Especially during a challenge! Real food is just better for you.  There is no debate here, it’s just the truth.  But we all live busy lives and sometimes a bar might be the only option for food. In the instance that there truly is no other choice, what bar should you choose (this should happen rarely, like maybe once a month)?  Here are some questions you can ask yourself when evaluating bars.  What is the macro-nutrient profile? Is there a balance?  What is the first ingredient?  If it is soy, sugar or grain, put the bar back on the shelf. You’ll notice the high sugar content from most of the bars. That will leave you hungry and only wanting more sugar. We will have a post later in the month about the effects of soy, if that’s a new on for you . And you should all be aware of the effects of grain by now so I didn’t event evaluate the grain based bars. Other questions to ask, what is the sugar source? How close to real food are the ingredients? Will this fit in well with the rest of my meals for the day or will this leave me hungrier then I was before I ate it, leaving me to crave sugar later?

Now I’m not advocating eating bars, I want to make that clear!

However, I’ve decided to buy 10 common snack bars at the local store and give you the data.

  

Builder Bar
Macro-nutrient information; Protein 20gm,, Carbohydrates 30gm, Fat 8gm.
Zone: 2.8P, 3.3C, 2.6F (Fat is calculated at 3gm per block due to fat free protein source).
1st ingredient: Soy
Predominate protein source: Soy
Percentage of bar that is sugar: 44%
Top 3 sugar sources: Beet juice, Organic brown rice syrup, Organic evaporated cane juice.
Contains Soy? Yes

Eating Right 100 Calories
Macro-nutrient information; Protein 6gm, Carbohydrates 17gm,, Fat 3gm.

Zone:0.85P, 1.8C, 1F
1st ingredient: Sugar
Predominate protein source: Soy
Percentage of bar that is sugar: 56%
Top 3 sugar sources: So many I can’t list them all, including plain old sugar and corn syrup.
Contains soy? Yes

Balance Bar
Macro-nutrient information; Protein 15gm, Carbohydrates 21gm, Fat 7gm.
Zone: 2.14P, 2.33C, 2.3F
1st ingredient: Soy
Predominate protein source: Soy and whey blend
Percentage of bar that is sugar: 42%
Top 3 sugar sources: Fructose, glucose syrup, sugar.
Contains Soy? Yes

  

Luna Bar
Macro-nutrient information; Protein 9gm, Carbohydrates 27gm, Fat 5gm.
Zone: 1.28P, 3C, 1.66F
1st ingredient: Soy
Predominate protein source: Soy
Percentage of bar that is sugar: 56%
Top 3 sugar sources: Organic dried cane sugar, Organic brown rice syrup, glucose.
Contains Soy? Yes

Lara Bar
Macro-nutrient information; Protein 5gm, Carbohydrates 30gm, Fat 8gm.
Zone: 0.71P, 3.33C, 2.66F
1st ingredient: Dates
Predominate protein source: Almonds
Percentage of bar that is sugar: 62%
Top 3 sugar sources: Dates and cherries.
Contains Soy? No

Think Thin 
Macro-nutrient information; Protein 20gm, Carbohydrates 25gm, Fat 8gm.
Zone: 2.8P, 2.7C, 2.6F
1st ingredient: Protein blend
Predominate protein source: Whey and soy
Percentage of bar that is sugar: 41%
Top 3 sugar sources: Chocolate liquor, Maltitol, natural favors…
Contains Soy? Yes

  

Clif Bar
Macro-nutrient information; Protein 10gm, Carbohydrates 41gm, Fat 7gm.
Zone: 1.4P, 4.5C, 2.3F
1st ingredient: Organic brown rice syrup
Predominate protein source: Soy
Percentage of bar that is sugar: 60%
Top 3 sugar sources: Organic brown rice syrup, Organic dried cane sugar,Organic evaporated cane juice.
Contains Soy? Yes

Atkins Bar
Macro-nutrient information; Protein 17gm, Carbohydrates 18gm, Fat 8gm.
Zone: 2.4P, 2C, 2.66F
1st ingredient: Soy nuggets
Predominate protein source: Soy
Percentage of bar that is sugar: 37%
Top 3 sugar sources: Polydextrose, maltitol, chocolate liquor
Contains Soy? Yes

Zone Bar
Macro-nutrient information; Protein 14gm, Carbohydrates 23gm, Fat 7gm.
Zone: 2P, 2.55C, 2.33F
1st ingredient: Soy nuggets
Predominate protein source: Soy

Percentage of bar that is sugar: 46% 
Top 3 sugar sources: Sugar, corn syrup, chocolate liquor
Contains Soy? Yes
Conclusion:

Tanka Bar
Macro-nutrient information; Protein 7gm, Carbohydrates 7gm, Fat 1.5gm.
Zone: 1P, 0.77C, 1F
1st ingredient: Buffalo
Predominate protein source: Buffalo
Percentage of bar that is sugar: 24%
Top 3 sugar sources: Sugar on the dried cranberries, no other source.
Contains Soy? No

 My top three choices: 
#1 Tanka; it contains real food, is balanced at 1block, has the lowest sugar % of bar so I will stay satisfied longer with less.  I understood all the ingredients on the label. Contained no soy.

#2 Lara bar; I choose this one because it was all real food, with only three ingredients.  The fat is nuts and will keep me satisfied.  I would however have to have it with a protein source like jerky or the sugar cravings would surely come later in the  day with a 62% sugar content. Contained no soy.

#3 Think Thin; I would consider this a 2.5 block snack.  It  is well balanced and contains a higher amount of whey then soy.  They have a lower percentage of sugar content then most of the other bars.  Has higher protein content then all the bars without raising the sugar also.

So there is my two cents on how to look at bars.  I hope this helps in a pinch! 

Comments

  1. Trina R :

    I generally dislike bars — it just doesn’t feel like or taste like I’m eating food if it comes out of a wrapper. That being said, if you’re on a week-long backpacking trip it’s good to have a bar or two with you for backup. Last summer I did this with Tonka bars but found that I preferred to just eat nuts, bison jerky, and dried fruit and make my own combinations and ended up going the whole trip without touching the bars.

  2. Ali :

    Travel WOD…. 4 Rds of 800m Run, 50 Air Squats. 22:38

  3. aMy k. :

    In general, I think bars taste disgusting and are vile piles of sugary chemicals marketed as “health” food. Mmmm! But, that being said, we’ve all experienced them and they continue to make their way into our diets from time to time. Thanks so much for the market research – I have worked with the folks at Lara Bar and think the products are pretty neato (and fairly tasty).

    On a different note – Can anyone recommend a jerky with limited sugar (no fish, GAG)? I fully understand that producers add sugar to offset the copious amounts of added sodium. I’m not a huge fan, especially since 1-2 servings often exceed my sodium limit for the day, but it would be nice to have a less contaminated product available for emergencies…

    • rob bell :

      check Climax Jerky out of Dillon or Silverton Jerky out of, eh, you can figure that out. I have some Climax Jerky now and the ones i have do list brown sugar but to my taste it’s much less than the Jack Links and such. Silverton Jerky I’ve also had and it’s a very “raw” jerky, I’d guess little sugar. Both are small biz so I’m sure you could find out whether any varieties are unsugared or how much they use.
      Steve’s Original (of Paleokits) also sells just the jerky. not sure on sugar there either. Have had their stuff and it’s tasty.
      Or….if we were willing to do a bulk order they might do an unsugared batch for us. Hmmm, I think I’ll drop them both a line and see what they say.

  4. Darcy :

    Check out Bonk Breakers (I am not a sales person) – not perfect but gluten and soy free. I keep them in my car for that time when I am starving and I still need to pick up the kiddos and head to the grocery before I get a chance to eat. A little high on the sugar but an better alternative than many others.

    Good luck!

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