What To Look For In The Ingredients List
How often do you take the time to read the ingredients, the percentages of each ingredient and not just read but also think about what you are seeing?
I seldom have bars, almost never, and there is one main reason. We, health and fitness professionals, tell you all the time to eat unprocessed foods, right? And then we recommend bars, shakes and powders. Those are processed. I don’t mind them, not at all. My point is don’t say eat unprocessed and recommend processed. Does that make sense?
To turn your food into powder or make a compact bar it needs to go through a lot of processing. And they use the same products you’d buy from your store, they don’t use organic, some do but most don’t. And even if they did they go through so many processes that they lose whatever was in them in the first place.
I don’t really endorse any particular brand. If asked I can give my opinion, but most of the time I will tell you to avoid processed food which also includes the above.
The other day I posted on my Facebook timeline a picture with bars, such as paleo bars, quinoa bars, fruit bars and others.
And I said don’t just grab whatever bar you see on shelves, just because it says it’s good. Take time and read the ingredients and percentages.
One of my followers asked what to look for in bars. And I thought the answer to this question will help everyone. This is what I pay attention to for myself, I don’t buy them but I like to keep up to date with what’s out there:
Let’s begin with this. Companies started to leave sugar out of bars, particularly in the case of fruit bars because fruit are already sweet of course.
However, we forget that fruit also contains sugar. Yes, indeed the natural sugar is processed by the body in a different way. But what we did is take out the refined sugar and replace it with loads of sugar from fruit, such as dates. You must remember that fruit are also sugar. And dried fruit are very high in sugar.
Some bars are made out of 50% dates. I understand dates are needed for consistency and to keep the bar together. But it’s too much sugar from dates and all the other fruits added.
Thus, look for sugar content, and see whether it comes from natural sources, hopefully yes. The lower the sugar content the better, but if the bar is made with fruit sugar content will be higher of course.
I am not sure for bars but in the case of juices 15g sugar per 100g juice is maximum you should go for, I’d actually say less than 10g / 100g. In the case of bars sugar will be higher in general.
Compare a few products to decide which one to go for.
2. Apple juice from concentrate
If we try to eliminate as much processed food as possible then let’s do it as best as we can. To make concentrated apple juice, apples go through a lot, a lot of processing.
They are smashed, juiced, filtered, the water is evaporated and you are left with a high sugar, no fibre, no nutrient concentrated liquid. This is transported (concentrated juice weighs less so it’s cheaper) and combined with water, at its destination, to make apple juice. And that’s apple juice from concentrate. Concentrated juice from other fruit go through the same process.
On top of that if metal is used for smashing apples oxidize and, in a nutshell, there is not much left in them.
Not all bars have fruit juice from concentrate. If I buy a bar I go for bars without fruit juice from concentrate.
Nuts are good to balance the blood sugar levels, more correctly is to say glycogen. If there are ingredients that spike blood sugar levels nuts and seeds will keep them balanced.
But, if you are looking to reduce calories intake a bar full of nuts is not your best choice. Why not get an apple and a handful of nuts and eat. You have better control over how much and what you eat then having a bar made by someone else.
4. Protein, carbohydrate and fats
Protein bars have a lot of protein of course. What I look for is the source of protein. Is it natural ingredients such as nuts or is it protein powder which?
Carbohydrate. In the case of protein bars carb content will be lower. If not, for fruit bars, it will be higher. Fruit carbohydrate comes only from sugars. If we didn’t have the fibre in fruit we’d be in trouble, blood sugar levels (glycogen) would sky rocket. That’s what’s missing in commercial juices by the way, that makes them so dangerous.
Fats. Again, the sources of fats are important. Is it butter? Is it nuts? What is it?
Where do your macronutrients (fats, carbohydrate, protein) in the bar you choose come from? This is what you want to ask yourself.
JUDGE FOR YOURSELF
These are things I look for whenever I read the labels or if I decide to try out a new bar and see what up with it.
You now need to read labels, compare products and decide which is the bar for you.
My personal choices
Bars are very easy for transportation and they don’t get mushy and messy like fruit do. They also take up a lot less space. Therefore I have two options I go for, when I need to:
1. Nakd Bars – Berry Delight (no apple juice from concentrate)
2. Frutina Real Fruit Snack – 100% dried fruit puree
By the way, I am not an affiliate of these brands, I do not get anything from telling you about this. However, if you buy anything from my amazon store, then I do, from amazon.
You can find the products and different brand I use on the UWF amazon store, including Nakd bars and Frutina.
Would you like a more personal advice? Contact me, I will offer you a 45 min consultation free of charge. Click here to get in touch