Energy bars usually contain protein and fiber, but they may also be loaded with calories. That’s fine if you occasionally make one a meal, but most people eat them as snacks.
Granola sounds healthy. But it’s often high in fat, sugar and calories. Don’t be fooled by a seemingly low calorie count; the portion sizes on the label are usually tiny.
The pecans and Gorgonzola cheese on Panera Bread’s Fuji Apple Chicken Salad propel it into double-cheeseburger territory. Before ordering a salad, check its nutrition information.
Added sugars can make some smoothies the equivalent of drinking fruit pie filling. The smallest serving of Jamba Juice’s Orange Dream Machine has 340 calories and an astonishing 69 grams of sugars.
Sushi rolls vary, and the fried bits and mayonnaise in some can really jack up the calories.
The “fruit” in yogurt is really jam (that is to say, mostly sugar).
A great way to sabotage your health and any weight loss efforts is to fall for the fraudulent claims of “healthy” snack foods and drinks. Many will try to fool you into thinking they’re good for you simply because they taste like fruit, or contain a small portion of something healthy, even though other ingredients might counteract any health benefits completely – excess sugar, or artificial sweeteners, being just a couple of the main culprits.
But considering the fact that Americans spend about 90 percent of their food money on processed foods, the allure of these quick and easy food products is no surprise.
Let’s take a closer look at a couple of the not-so-healthy-health-foods mentioned above.
The Low-Down on Energy Bars
Most likely, you already know that candy bars are not good for you. Loaded with sugar and typically devoid of any healthy proteins or fat, they give your body a quick lift without providing any real nourishment. The lift soon gives way to a letdown and you feel hungrier than before. Many contain trans fat and a slew of artificial ingredients.
Enter the Energy Bar. They look and taste like candy bars, have the shelf life of candy bars, contain protein and fiber, and are loaded with vitamins and minerals. They are convenient and they taste good. And, thanks to an incredible amount of advertising hype, they can be consumed without the guilt of the candy bar.
Or… can they?
The original energy bars, such as the Power Bar and the Source Bar, were based on so-called “natural” sweeteners--high fructose corn syrup and juice concentrates--along with dried fruits and nuts, a combination that resulted in higher percentages of carbohydrates than your typical chocolate candy bar.
But the real boost for the bar business came with the advent of cheap soy that could be added to make a "high-protein" bar.
Unfortunately, most of today’s energy bars contain few desirable, health-promoting ingredients and quite a bit of junk. For example:
- Soy protein comes with an initial burden of phytic acid, enzyme inhibitors and isoflavones. More toxins are formed during high-temperature chemical processing, including nitrates, lysinalanine and MSG. Soy protein must therefore be processed at very high temperatures to reduce levels of phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors -- a process that over-denatures many of the proteins in soy, especially lysine, making them unavailable to your body.
- High fructose corn syrup (or concentrated fruit juices, which are high in fructose), has been shown to be more hazardous to your health and waistline than sugar.
- Synthetic vitamins are thrown in so the bars can be called "complete.” However, synthetic vitamins are useless at best and hazardous at worst, as your body cannot process synthetic vitamins the way it processes natural vitamins.
With the exception of most of the fats, most of the ingredients used in energy bars are actually waste products from other industries:
- Soy protein isolate and most whey protein are the waste products of the soy oil and cheese industries respectively. (Note: This is not the case for the healthy whey protein used in Cocoa Cassava bars).
- Apple and lemon fiber, used to create a crunchy effect, are made from the pulp left over from squeezing the fruits for their juice
- Most of the sweeteners are made by highly industrialized processes and can cause significant rises in blood sugar and insulin levels.
In short, most of the ingredients in energy bars are anything but natural. Of course, there are exceptions, but you really have to analyze the ingredients.
If you want to use energy bars as a meal replacement – not as an additional snack – I recommend Cocoa Cassava bars, which I believe has a good balance of three excellent superfoods: Fresh Shores Coconut Oil, Pro-Optimal Whey protein, and fiber-rich flaxseed. I spent over ayear researching and working with top biochemists to concoct this bar from scratch, simply because I wasn’t satisfied with any of the alternatives on the market.
Naturally, you can’t compete with whole, unprocessed high-quality food, but if you occasionally need a healthy alternative, make sure you do your homework before you throw those commercial energy bars into your bag.
What’s Really in Your Yoghurt?
Yoghurt is another very common food that is misleadingly advertised as healthy.
Because nearly all commercially available yoghurt is pasteurized, which places them in the same category as pasteurized milk. And, if you’ve been a reader of my newsletter for any amount of time, you already know why pasteurized milk is bad for your health:
- Pasteurized cow's milk is the leading allergic food in the United States
- It has been well documented as a cause in diarrhea, cramps, bloating, gas, gastrointestinal bleeding, iron-deficiency anemia, skin rashes, atherosclerosis, and acne
- It is the primary cause of recurrent ear infections in children
- It has also been linked to insulin dependent diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, infertility, and leukemia
Pasteurizing milk destroys enzymes, diminishes vitamins, denatures fragile milk proteins, destroys vitamin B12 and vitamin B6, kills beneficial bacteria, and promotes pathogens.
From my perspective, there’s simply no rational justification to ever drink pasteurized milk, even organic pasteurized milk, and the same goes for pasteurized yoghurt.
And, the pasteurization aside, store-bought yoghurt can also contain high amounts of added sugar; high-sugar fruit jams; or worse, artificial sweeteners.
Fortunately, if you have access to raw milk, making your own homemade raw yoghurt is really easy, and is a truly healthy superfood, rich in highly beneficial bacteria and other nutrients.
If you’ve never tried it, watch Lucy Lock’s step-by-step video on how to do it. I guarantee you you’ll never go back to store-bought yoghurt again!