Update on “Energy Bars”?

In 2003, Mary Enig and I wrote an article on “energy” bars in which we called out all the so-called “natural” ingredients in these so-called healthy bars—which are actually candy bars made with waste products. Here’s what was available at the time—13 years ago:

Energy BarsBOULDER BAR (“Provides sustained energy from naturally delicious real food”): Apple juice, figs, whole brown rice syrup, maltodextrin (complex carb), soy protein isolate, oat bran, oat flour, rice flour.

SOURCE BAR (“Total Sports Nutrition”): Dried plums and dates, grape juice concentrate, wheat flour, whey protein concentrate, defatted peanut flour, honey, fruit juice concentrate, oats, raisins, pecans, soy flour, canola oil.

POWER BAR (“Fuel for Optimum Performance”): High fructose corn syrup, grape and pear juice concentrate, oat bran, maltodextrin, milk protein, brown rice, sesame butter, barley malt, peanut butter.

CLIF BAR (“Nutrition for Sustained Energy”): Brown rice syrup, rolled oats, soy nuggets (soy protein isolate, rice flour, malt extract), evaporated cane juice, roasted soy butter, chocolate chips, fig paste, cocoa, almonds, ClifCrunchTM (apple fiber, oat fiber, milled flaxseed, soy fiber, chicory extract, lemon fiber, psyllium).

BIOZONE BARS (“Programmed Nutrition”): Fructose syrup, soy protein isolate, honey, calcium caseinate, toasted soybeans, corn syrup, sugar, palm and palm kernel oils, peanut butter, cocoa powder, lactose, whey protein concentrate.

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BALANCE BARS (“The Complete Nutritional Food Bar”): Protein blend (soy protein isolate, calcium caseinate, toasted soy beans, whey protein concentrate, whey), high fructose corn syrup, honey, fructose, almonds, high maltose corn syrup, canola oil, palm and palm kernel oils, sunflower oil.

THINK! INTERACTIVE BAR(“Concentration, Calmness, Stamina”): Advanced protein blend (peanut protein, sodium caseinate, isolated soy protein, nonfat dry milk, lactoalbumin), peanut butter, fructose syrup, brown sugar, high concentrate soya flour, MCTs, molasses, yeast, milk chocolate.

DR. SOY (“The smart choice for delicious nutrition as a snack or meal replacement bar”): Soy Blend (soy protein isolate and soy nuggets), malitol syrup, brown rice syrup, sugar, fractionated palm kernel oil, nonfat dry milk, yogurt powder, honey.

ATKINS ADVANTAGE (“The Original Low-Carb Lifestyle”): Protein blend (soy protein isolate, hydrolyzed collagen, whey protein isolate, calcium/sodium caseinate), glycerine, polydextrose (fiber), cocoa butter, cocoa powder, water, natural coconut oil, soy nuggets (soy protein, rice flour, malt, salt), cellulose, olive oil, sucralose.

Of these nine bars, five are now out of business: Boulder, Source, BioZone, Think! and Dr. Soy. Power, Clif, Balance and Atkins bars remain, with many new flavors and in most cases a longer list of ingredients.

PowerBar has a new motto, “Developed to help athletes from all walks of life recharge and refocus,” with three categories of bars–Energy, Protein and Wholesome Snacking—and many flavors

From the Energy category, we have the Cookie Dough Power Bar:

C2 Max Carbohydrate Blend (Organic Evaporated Cane Juice Syrup, Maltodextrin, Fructose, Dextrose), Oat Bran, Soy Protein Isolate, Cookie Bits (Rice Flour, Sugar, Canola Oil, Alkalized Cocoa, Rice Starch, Baking Soda, Salt), Brown Rice Flour, and 2% or less of: Canola Oil, Natural Flavor, Vegetable Glycerin, Salt, Soy Lecithin, Almond Butter, Nonfat Milk, Peanut Flour, along with added minerals and vitamins.

From the Energy category, we have the Cookies and Cream Power Bar Protein Plus. Note that the “cream” is the last ingredient (less than salt), and is actually butter.

PowerBar Trisource™ Protein Blend (Soy Protein Isolate, Calcium Caseinate, Whey Protein Isolate), Maltitol Syrup, Chocolate Flavored Coating (Sugar, Fractioned Palm Kernel Oil, Cocoa, Whey, Nonfat Milk, Soy Lecithin, Natural Flavor), Oligofructose (From Chicory Root), Fructose, Water, Cane Invert Syrup, Peanut Butter, Partially Defatted Peanut Flour, Soy Crisps (Soy Protein Isolate, Rice Flour, Barley Malt Extract, Salt), Peanut Oil, and less than 2% of: Salt, Ground Almonds, Natural Flavor, Soy Lecithin, Butter (Cream).

From the Wholesome Snacking category the company offers the Strawberry Crunch Power Bar Harvest:

Nuts (Dry Roasted Almonds and Peanuts), Cane Invert Syrup, Non Gmo Soy Crisp (Soy Protein Isolate, Tapioca Starch, Salt), Brown Rice Syrup, Fruit Blend (Strawberries, Cranberries, Sugar, Sunflower Oil, Rice Flour), Rolled Oats, Coating (Sugar, Fractionated Palm Kernel Oil, Whey, Nonfat Milk, Yogurt Powder, Soy Lecithin, Natural Flavor), Natural Flavor, Honey.

Clif Bar has also added many flavors, including Chocolate Chip:

Organic Brown Rice Syrup, Organic Rolled Oats, Soy Protein Isolate, Organic Cane Syrup, Organic Dried Cane Syrup, Rice Flour, Organic Roasted Soybeans, Organic Soy Flour, Organic Oat Fiber, Cocoa, Cocoa Butter, Organic Date Paste, Organic Sunflower Oil, Natural Flavors, Soy Flour, Sea Salt, Barley Malt Extract, Organic Vanilla Extract, Soy Lecithin.

Balance Bars has a new motto, “Life at its Fullest”—similar to Dr. Price’s famous saying, “Life in its fullness is Mother Nature obeyed.” But the bars do not contain many of Mother Nature’s foods. For example, the Chocolate Peanut Butter Balance Bar contains:

Protein blend (soy protein isolate, whey protein isolate partially hydrolyzed milk protein isolate, casein, calcium caseinate), fructose, peanut butter (peanuts), sugar, glucose syrup, water, whey protein concentrate, fractionated palm kernel and palm oil, partially defatted peanut flour, cocoa (processed with alkali), natural flavor, glycerine. Contains less than 2% of maltitol syrup, nonfat milk, soy lecithin, salt, maltodextrin, heavy cream (cream, milk, cellulose gel, milk solids carrageenan, cellulose gum), butter (cream, salt, annatto added for color), butterfat, sodium citrate, tocopherols added to protect flavor, soybean oil, carrageenan, dextrose, PLUS a vitamin and mineral mix.

Atkins bars now have many ingredients as well, including two sweeteners (polydextrose, maltitol) and two artificial sweeteners (sucralose and acesulfame potassium). The Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough bar contains:

Chocolate flavored coating [palm kernel oil, polydextrose, maltitol, whey protein concentrate, cocoa powder (processed with alkali), whole milk powder, soy lecithin, salt, natural and artificial flavor, sucralose, acesulfame potassium], soy protein isolate, polydextrose, glycerin, chocolate chips [maltitol, unsweetened chocolate (processed with alkali), cocoa butter, soy lecithin, vanilla extract], palm oil water, hydrolyzed gelatin, canola oil, natural and artificial flavors, salt, soy lecithin, sucralose, acesulfame potassium and a vitamin/mineral mix.

Since 2003, more brands have appeared on the scene. Not surprisingly, we now have the Paleo Diet™ Bar, “a superior nutrition bar that is gluten, soy, dairy and preservative free” and carrying the exclusive endorsement of Dr. Loren Cordain. The Paleo Diet Bar is “the all natural food bar high in the beneficial nutrients that he recommends in some of his bestselling books, The Paleo Answer, The Paleo Diet™ Cookbook and The Paleo Diet™ for Athletes.” Instead of soy or whey protein, the Paleo Diet Bar contains “egg white protein powder.”

Dates, Almonds, Egg White Protein Powder, Apple Fiber, Sunflower Seeds, Dried Cranberries (Cranberries, Apple Juice Concentrate), Hemp Protein Powder, Strawberry Juice Concentrate, Coconut Oil, Water, Vanilla Extract, Cinnamon.

Finally, we have Youngevity Nature’s WheyTM Nutrition Bars, containing “glucosamine, calcium, selenium and more,” and approved by Dr. Joel Wallach of Dead-Doctors-Don’t-Lie fame. The odd thing is that the bars contain mostly soy and very little whey—which just goes to prove that famous doctors giving clever names to their “nutrition” bars do lie. In addition to 13 grams of soy protein, the chocolate bar contains:

Malititol, Non-GMO Soy Protein Isolate, Chocolate Coating (sugar, palm kernel & partially hydrogenated palm oils, cocoa, whey, nonfat milk, sorbitan monostearate and lecithin emulsifiers, pure vanila, vanillin), Corn Solids, Non-GMO Soy Protein Crisp Nuggets, Cocoa Powder, Soy Lecithin, Cellulose Gum, Sucralose, Natural Chocolate Flavor, Natural Vanilla Flavor, Dietary Fiber, Potassium Sorbate, Glucosamine and a bunch of added vitamins and minerals.

The main waste products of these highly hyped bars are soy protein (the toxic waste product of the soy oil industry) and whey protein (the denatured waste product of the cheese industry). “Egg white protein powder” used in the Paleo Bar is a waste product also—the leftover part of eggs used in the ice cream industry. Egg white protein is sold by the bag on the internet, and advertised for paleo-friendly smoothies. But egg white powder is prepared by high temperature spray drying and likely to be denatured—as well as inherently allergenic.

Note to new readers: Soy is indeed highly toxic and can cause, among other things, thyroid problems (leading to low energy, not more energy), hormone disruption, heart problems, mineral deficiencies (Dr. Wallach, please note), breast development in men, infertility, kidney stones and a whole range of digestive problems. For more info, see http://www.westonaprice.org/Soy-Alert/.

Notice all the new-fangled sweeteners in these bars—from maltodextrin (made from corn) to the sugar alcohol maltitol; and all the manufacturers indulge in the ole’ sweetener trick—that is, they divide the sweeteners among several different types—if there were just one sweetener, in most of the bars it would come first in the list of ingredients.

Are there any bars that provide a complete protein and contain all natural ingredients? There is one, which we sell in our farm store—the Exo Cricket Bar! Made from powdered dried crickets, the protein will likely contain B12 and fat-soluble vitamins, plus many naturally occuring minerals. I’m not crazy about the apple juice concentrate and I’d love to see more fat in the bar—lard would be good, but it could also be palm oil. But the main thing is that there are no crazy ingredients like sorbitan monostearate or polydextrose. And no need to add glucosamine—it occurs naturally in the cricket shells. Here are the ingredients of their blueberry bar:

Almonds, Apricots, Blueberries (Bluberries, Apple Juice Concentrate), Strawberries (Strawberries, Apple Juice Concentrate), Cricket Flour (Acheta Domesticus), Honey, Ground Flaxseeds, Coconut, Vanilla Extract, Sea Salt.

By the way, if you have a crustacean shellfish allergy, you may be allergic to crickets.

The Weston A. Price Foundation is a non-profit nutrition education organization that promotes real food, processed by artisans and not in factories. Visit our website at westonaprice.org and click on Join Now to become a member, receive the quarterly journal and participate in the worldwide return to nutrient-dense food.

Author: Sally Fallon Morell

Sally Fallon Morell is best known as the author of Nourishing Traditions®: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats. This well-researched, thought-provoking guide to traditional foods contains a startling message: animal fats and cholesterol are not villains but vital factors in the diet, necessary for normal growth, proper function of the brain and nervous system, protection from disease and optimum energy levels.

5 thoughts on “Update on “Energy Bars”?”

    1. Thanks for pointing out the Perfect Food Bars. They contain several questionable ingredients, including nonfat dry milk, rice protein and kale powder, plus lots of liquid oils. The powdered eggs will be a source of oxidized cholesterol. I think you are better off eating a piece of cheese!


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