They’ve infiltrated virtually every supermarket, convenience store, gym, yoga studio and even sporting goods stores. Energy bars are synonymous with healthy, quick and energizing food for these modern times, relied upon by millions for a fast, waxy-cardboard-esque-quasi-tasty boost of calories, protein and carbs. But before you power through your next Power Bar, have you considered these five reasons to ditch energy bars?
- Protein isolates: One of the most common ingredients in energy bars is isolated protein. Whether soy or whey, protein isolates are often extracted with chemical solvents like hexane—a polluting toxin linked to cancer. Soy, often genetically modified, contributes to the destruction of the Amazon rainforest and can have negative effects on hormone levels. Many conventional whey proteins have been found to contain heavy metals and toxins resulting from antibiotics, hormones and other drugs routinely fed to dairy cows.
- Sugar: While they sound healthier than, say, a cookie, energy bars can contain as much—or more—sugar than common snack foods. For example, one Luna bar contains almost as much sugar as three Oreos!
- Fractionated oils: Stabilizers are common ingredients in energy bars. Fractionated oils can contain nearly 90 percent saturated fat. While not as bad as hydrogenated oil, it is an unhealthy option; and fractionated palm kernel oil is often sourced from conflict regions where slave labor is common.
- Preservatives: Fact: Freshness means “not preserved,” but processed foods contain preservatives to produce a fresh-tasting and “un-stale” product… confusing, right? And what’s worse, certain preservatives have been linked to allergies, neurological and behavioral issues, and certain types of cancer.
- Packaging: While a little foil-wrapped bar might appear convenient, packaging waste takes a huge toll on the planet, sucks up resources like fresh water and contributes to pollution.
So… instead of spending $2-$4 every time you need a quick energy boost, try sating yourself with super protein rich and energy-packed nuts like almonds, walnuts or Brazil nuts. Or, make a quick chia seed porridge, which will keep you feeling full and energized for hours at a fraction of the cost of an energy bar. Nature also makes a number of tasty energy “bars,” although they come in much more exciting shapes and colors like Orange, Granny Smith Green, Blueberry or Nectarine. Dried fruits are also an easy, yummy, munch-on-the-go snack that can fuel you with flavor and fiber. And making your own energy bars from scratch with seeds, oats and healthy proteins like hemp can be a fun way to make sure you get pure energy… and nothing else.
Keep in touch with Jill on Twitter @jillettinger