Nutrition Bars: Advantage or Disadvantage?

Posted in Health Bars

Dear Brand Doctor,

I love the Atkins Advantage Bars – especially the Chocolate Peanut Butter. They’re lifesavers with my busy schedule… and they taste good too. But I’m wondering: are they really good for me and my diet?

~Hopelessly Devoted to My Bars!

Dear Hopelessly Devoted:

We took the liberty of playing CSI (Chewy Stuff Investigation) and doing an autopsy on your favorite Atkins Advantage® Chocolate Peanut Butter Bar. We carefully dissected the Nutrition Facts Label (NFL) and the Ingredients list. Take a look.

(240 calories, 11g fat, 6g sat fat, 180mg sodium, 10g fiber, and 19g protein)

Ingredients: Protein Blend [Soy Protein Isolate, Hydrolyzed Collagen, Whey Protein Isolate (Milk), Sodium Caseinate], Glycerine, Polydextrose, Dry Roasted Peanut, Peanut Flour, Palm Kernel And Palm Oil, Cellulose, Coconut Oil, Cocoa Powder (Processed With Alkali), Natural And Artificial Flavor, Olive Oil, Butter Oil, Soy Lecithin, Maltodextrin, Salt, Guar Gum, Citric Acid, Sucralose, Mono And Diglycerides, Dipotassium Phosphate, Acesulfame Potassium.

Nutrition Blend: Tricalcium Phosphate, Calcium Carbonate, Magnesium Oxide, Vitamin A Palmitate, Ascorbic Acid, Sodium Ascorbate, Thiamin Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Cyanocobalamin, Alpha Tocopheryl Acetate, Niacinamide, Biotin, Calcium Pantothenate, Zinc Oxide, Folic Acid, Chromium Chelate, Phytonadione, Sodium Selenite. Contains: Soy, Milk And Peanuts. This Product Is Manufactured In A Facility That Uses Peanuts, Other Nuts And Seeds.

Ouch! That’s a total of 25 individual ingredients for one little three-bite bar! Then there’s the 19 added vitamins and minerals (i.e., their nutrition blend). That’s a staggering total of 44 items padding out the ingredients list.

Decoding the Fine Print

After decoding the fine print, our sleuthing staff discovered the following:

  • Of the 25 ingredients listed, 15 are chemical additives! Never a good sign.
  • The first ingredient listed is a protein blend that contains THREE chemical additives. FYI: Manufacturers list ingredients in order from most to least amounts, which means the first few ingredients usually make up the bulk of the food item.
  • There are four artificial sweeteners listed, which explains the one gram of sugar listed on the NFL.
  • There are 10 grams of fiber listed on the NFL, but we didn’t find many natural whole food fiber sources on the ingredients list, so we’re guessing most of the fiber comes from the additives.
  • There are 10 grams of fat; of those, 6 grams are saturated fat, yikes!
  • Since there’s very few real food substances, they had to fortify this bar with a nutrition blend of synthetic vitamins and minerals. Translation: they tossed a multi-vitamin on top of all the chemicals.

Mmm, mmm, good! Nothing says “yummy” like a bunch of chemical additives all rolled up in one tasty nutrition bar – NOT!

Our CSI final word on Atkins Advantage® Bars: DOA for Dead On Arrival.

Reality Check

In today’s fast-paced world, we understand nutrition on-the-go is a must and energy/nutrition bars are the king of convenience. Our advice: change the brand, not the food.
A favorite in the nutrition bar category is the Larabar. They have a variety of delicious flavors (we love Cashew Cookie and Chocolate Coconut). Each bar is crafted from fewer than six ingredients. All the fiber, protein, good carbohydrates, and healthy fats are derived exclusively from whole, raw foods.

Since all the nutrition comes from the real food ingredients, they don’t have to fortify their bars with vitamins and minerals – the good stuff comes naturally packaged!

Larabars truly are lifesavers – not just for convenience, but for your health as well!

Remember, when you’re armed with a little eBrandAid know-how, you’re in control at the grocery store.

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In Our Opinion: The information contained in the eBrandAid e-newsletters is strictly based on the opinions of the eBrand Doctors. We have created a set of guidelines that we believe will help shoppers to better understand and decode food labels on products found in most grocery stores. Our mission is to help shoppers find the healthier brands that have the least amount of chemicals and other junk ingredients.

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