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Protein Bars and Shakes: Health food or Danger food?

Protein bars and shakes. Why are you eating and drinking them? Most people say "to lose weight." STOP! Have you looked at a label lately?

Most of these products are high calorie, use exorbitant amounts of sugar, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), unhealthy fats, chemical additives, artificial colors and flavors, and questionable preservatives.

So, do you know what's in your bar/shake of choice?

Let's look at some problem ingredients:

1. Sugar. If that is the first or second ingredient, put it down! I love this Facebook post: All the 309 names of sugar so far project. Some of the more misleading names are: agave nectar/syrup, all natural evaporated cane juice, chicory (which is actually HFCS), molasses, malt, organic sugar (it is still sugar!), rice syrup, and Tapioca syrup. Learn more about how bad sugar is here.

2. HFCS. HFCS is extracted from corn stalks. It is not biologically identical to cane sugar, is a 55-45 fructose to glucose ratio in an unbound form, is more rapidly absorbed into the blood stream, spikes insulin release, can punch holes in the intestinal lining, and can lead to "fatty liver", metabolic disease, obesity, and cancer. Read more here. Simply put, don't consume it!

3. Protein isolates. This is a topic in and of itself, but suffice to say that most isolates have MSG! In addition, soy protein isolates are the worst - made from GMO (genetically modified organism) soy beans and have estrogen mimicking effects. Yikes!

4. Artificial sweeteners: aspartame, acesulfame-K, sucralose, and saccharin are just four of these dangerous substitutes. Avoid them.

5. Canola Oil. A plant oil, rapeseed oil, from Canada touted to be heart healthy. "How DOES rapeseed oil magically turn into canola oil? It's "deodorized" with a chemical component. Do you want to put a "hex" on your health? Insert "hexane" and wait for problems to rear their ugly head. Hexane, a vapor component of gasoline, is used to process oils and has been since World War II. And yes, hexane is flammable. Hexane is a chemical made from crude oil, the mainstream solvent extraction method of the entire Western world." Source

6. Artificial colors/flavors, preservatives and other chemical additives. All no good! If the bar or shake has more than five or six ingredients and most are words you cannot pronounce, then avoid them.

What's the take home message here? Choose real food, read the labels carefully, and use bars sparingly when you are in a pinch.

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