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Candy or Protein Bar?

The protein bar’s popularity is associated to its convenience and exceptional nutritional value. While their convenience is undoubted, does the nutritional value actually support the wrappers claims? When done correctly, protein bars pack a nutritious punch of energy-enhancing ingredients to help you power through your workout or demanding work schedule. However, when companies begin to cut corners by using inferior ingredients such as high-fructose corn syrup, sugar alcohols, soy protein isolate, fractionated palm kernel oil, and artificial sweeteners these “health” bars transform into your everyday candy bar. So before you pay a visit to your local convenience store, allow me to explain sugar alcohols in further detail, and be sure to keep an eye out for a breakdown of additional inferior protein bar ingredients within the second article of this two part series.

If you look at the label on most protein bars, you‘ll see a curious list of ingredient: maltitol syrup, xylitol, sorbitol, lacitol, mannitol, and erythritol. These ingredients are hard enough to pronounce, let alone understand. The series of ingredients previously listed are sugar alcohols. Sugar alcohols are a nutrient that occurs naturally in fruits and vegetables and they taste just about as sweet as ordinary table sugar. Don’t let the name deceive you, sugar alcohols are a common substitute for artificial sweeteners such as sucralose and aspartame.
The primary reason for incorporating them into protein bars is to add sweetness without excess calories. Sugar alcohols provide fewer calories than sugar and even have less of an effect on blood glucose. Sugar alcohols range in caloric value from 0-3 calories/gram, whereas regular sugar weighs in at 4 calories/gram. Due to the slight discrepancy, protein bar consumer may recall seeing the term “net carbs” on the bars wrapper. The calculation works like this:

Total Carbs – Fiber – Sugar Alcohols = Net Carbs (actual amount of calorie-containing carbohydrates in a bar)
So for those dieting down or watching there figure, it is within their best interest to understand the term net carbs and how to go about calculating it. Primarily because sugar alcohols do not have to be listed as a carb on the label, so your bar could have a lot more carbs than you think. Even bars that claim to have no carbs may contain high amounts of carbs due to the presence of sugar alcohols. An additional downside of sugar alcohols are the gastrointestinal manifestations that arise when consuming them in large quantities (> 10g/day). Abdominal cramps, bloating, and nausea are some of the more common exhibited symptoms.

For those protein bar consumer out there, my advice to you is to become smart consumers. These bars are not cheap by any stretch of the imagination, so make sure you are investing your funds in a bar that will provide optimal nutritional value, right down to the last ingredient. Also, be sure to frequently check the Nutrition Facts labels found on the back of your protein bar of choice to monitor sugar alcohols in your daily diet.
Please take some time to visit the link below where you will find askmen’s top 10 protein bars currently on the market with nutritional breakdowns.

About the Author:
John Falconio is a senior studying Hospitality Management and Nutritional Sciences at Penn State. His fascination with cooking lead him to the Hospitality major, but his desire to understand food more thoroughly was the driving force behind his degree in Nutrition. Following my graduation, he plans to attend either the University of Virginia or the Ohio State University for their two year Masters/Dietetic Internship program.

February 2, 2015 | Blog | Comments Off on Candy or Protein Bar?

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Jeff Welsh - Crossfit Trainer

Age: 24

  • Years of Crossfit Experience: 2

    • Certifications: B.S Kinsesiology, Crossfit level 1 trainer, Crossfit Kids, CrossFit Endurance, CrossFit Movement & Mobility, CrossFit Olympic Lifting, ACE Certified Trainer
    • Fran Time: 3:35
    • Favorite WOD: Angie
    • Least Favorite Lift: Power Snatch
    • Favorite Cheat Meals: PB, Ice Cream, Cookies, Donuts, Chocolate…

    I’m Jeff, a 2011 graduate of the Pennsylvania State University, earning my BS in Kinesiology. I’ve been involved with sports and exercise ever since I was able to walk. I have played baseball at all levels, from t-ball to collegiate and football through the high school level. I remember when I first began weightlifting that I wanted to be bigger, faster and like all my other 14 year old friends, I wanted a stronger bench press.I’ve come a long way since then, earning certifications through CrossFit and the American Council on Exercise. Before CrossFit my workouts were a bore, and I often dreaded my routine. When I first started I remember thinking, “Workouts that only last 10-15 minutes, this can’t possibly work.” I’m glad that I changed my attitude. Since switching my training routine and tweaking my diet to make it more primal, I was able to drop some much unappreciated weight that I had gained since I quit playing sports competitively.My favorite thing about CrossFit is the community. I originally had to break through my own mental barriers, a process I found to be extremely rewarding. CrossFit continues to push me to extremes that I never thought I’d be capable of. Even more than this, I love watching as others break through their own mental barriers and achieve something that they never thought possible. Having the opportunity to train and help others to feel just as much apart of our community is priceless to me.

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    Lance Larson - Crossfit Trainer

    Age: 26

  • Years of Crossfit Experience: 1.5 Years

    • Certifications: Crossfit Level 1 Trainer
    • Least Favorite Lift/Movement: Deadlift
    • Favorite Movement: Snatch
    • Favorite WOD: Amanda
    • Favorite Cheat Meals: Anything from Five Guys

    Sports and fitness have consistently been a major part of my life. Throughout high school, I was involved with athletics year round with wrestling, football, and baseball. After I finished organized sports, working out tended to be a chore, and I found myself trying to ‘maintain’ rather than progress. I was introduced to CrossFit about a year and a half ago, and haven’t looked back. I found myself rapidly improving in the gym, which translated to every other part of my life. It became a total lifestyle overhaul as I begin eating better, scrapping bad habits, and became motivated for work outside the gym. The community in general is great, and it’s difficult to find a more welcoming group of people. I love to train CrossFit; it’s immensely gratifying to help others break down physical and mental barriers to achieve a happier and healthier lifestyle.

  • ×
    Ginny Santiago - Crossfit Trainer

    Age: 26 CrossFit experience: 1 1/2 years

    Certifications: BA in Health Promotion, CrossFit Level One trainer, CrossFit Gymnastics Trainer

    Favorite WOD: Diane – 3:30

    Least Favorite Lift: Thrusters

    Favorite Cheat Meals: Pizza, Mac N’ Cheese, Cheeseburgers, French Fries, doughnuts, cookies, and other delicious things…

    Hey guys! I’m Ginny, a 2010 graduate from the University of Northern Iowa with a BA in Health Promotion. Currently, I am working toward an Associate’s degree in Diagnostic Medical Sonography at The South Hills School of Business and Technology. Sports were never really a big part of my life growing up, but I’ve been involved in health and exercise all of my adult life. Before CrossFit, I got my cardio in on the treadmill or elliptical and then hit up a few of the conventional weight machines. It was getting boring and monotonous and I was eager to try something new. I got interested in CrossFit when my husband Serg, the head coach here, along with its two other founding members, Jeff (current coach) and Steve (former coach) started this box with the support of the bossman Seth. I’ve been hooked ever since and hope to go to the 2013 CrossFit Regionals with Team LionHeart. I love being at the box. With a different workout every day, It’s never boring and the other coaches and athletes are always supportive and encouraging. Because of CrossFit, I’m doing physical activities I never thought possible and helping others do the same.

    Shea McMullin - Crossfit Trainer

    Age: 27

    Hey, I’m Shea! I graduated from Missouri State University with a B.S. in Public Relations. I currently work for Penn State Women’s Basketball. Growing up sports and health played a vital role in my life. At the age of four, I had to have open heart surgery to repair a hole the size of a quarter in my Atrial Septal Chamber. My surgeon encouraged my parents to start me in sports immediately to strengthen my heart. I played basketball for 11 years and softball for 8 years. However, after my freshmen year in high school I decided to quit competitive sports to focus on other passions of mine….so I became the typical gym goer.After my freshman year in college, I asked my dad to compete in a sprint triathlon with me and this is where my true passion for fitness began. I ended up working 3 summers at a Fitness and Nutrition Camp in La Jolla, California and found a love for running marathons.Running was my therapy….till I found CrossFit!

    Why I love CrossFit LionHeart? It pushes and challenges me every day, I never get bored – no two days are alike, and most of all the encouragement and support I get from everyone at the box. We’re like one big family….we help each other out, we give back to the community, we compete in local events, and we hangout outside of the box.No matter your age or athletic ability

    CrossFit is for you! One of the neatest things is seeing someone accomplish a goal they never thought was possible before CrossFitting!