I know you probably weren’t expecting protein bars because they’re promoted as an ideal source of protein, if you constantly find yourself on the go.
And there’s no doubt that most protein bars will provide a lot of the amino acids you need to recover, feed your muscles, and boost your metabolism.
But many of these protein bars are helping you recover and build muscle at a price. And that price is extra body fat.
That’s because not all protein bars are created equal. And I’m sure that the protein bars that many of you eat could be making it much more difficult for you to stay lean.
Realistically, when choosing the right protein bar while your goal is to stay lean, there are three things that you want to look out for.
A) Sugar and empty calories
The first one is that they usually contain a lot of sugar or artificial sweeteners to make them taste better.
Without some sort of sweetener, protein bars would be pretty unpleasant in texture and bland in taste.
That’s why most manufacturers feel the need to spice up the taste with some sugar. Sometimes that can be as much as 30 grams of sugar per protein bar.
This can pretty much turn your healthy protein bar into a candy bar, or a can of coke.
If you’re snacking on these randomly throughout the day, you’re going to be adding a lot of excess calories to your diet.
We can see how unhealthy many of these protein bars are by looking at a recent report by the Protectivity Insurance Company.
In this report, the calories and sugar content of 50 popular protein bars were analyzed.
They found that a third of the bars contained more saturated fat than a glazed donut from Krispy Kreme!
On top of that, ten of them had more sugar than a Krispy Kreme donut. All that sugar drives up your calorie count very quickly.
When you have a 400-calorie protein bar that you can demolish in a few quick bites, it’s no surprise that 2-3 bars daily can push your daily caloric intake way too high.
Moreover, the sugar found in these protein bars will be treated just like the sugar found in candy. This means it’ll spike your insulin levels, making it much harder to burn fat.
B) Soy protein and hormonal imbalances
Another problem is that a lot of protein bars use soy protein. The problem with many of these soy protein bars is that they can negatively impact your testosterone levels and raise your estrogen levels.
Granted – having a couple of soy protein bars here and there won’t skyrocket your estrogen levels. But if you’re eating other sources of soy in addition to protein bars, you may cause some hormonal imbalances.
Excessive estrogen can cause you to store more body fat and, regardless of your sex, it can make you soft and flabby.
Soy also contains phytoestrogens, which mimic the effects of estrogen in the body.
These decrease testosterone levels, which makes it less likely for you to build muscle and harder for you to get lean.
If you want to stick to soy protein, you can go with a soy isolate protein powder instead. That’s because this product has had most of these phytoestrogens removed.
One more problem with many of the protein bars that are on the market has to do with the ingredients used to make them.
When you get a good protein powder there’s usually a very short list of familiar ingredients. But have you ever bothered to take a look at the ingredient list on your protein bar?
If you haven’t, then take a look because you’re probably gonna see words on there that you can’t even pronounce. Those are the preservatives, thickeners, artificial colors and oils that shouldn’t be in your body.
These ingredients are not only bad for your health, but they’re also not helpful for fat loss. On top of that, there are also additional vitamins in your protein bar.
While most people think that the extra vitamins are a good thing, they don’t realize that the vast majority of vitamins that are added to protein bars are synthetic.
Now, not all protein bars are bad, it’s simply a matter of finding the right one. Just make sure you pay attention to the ingredient list and the amount of carbs and fats listed.
Wholewheat is often promoted as the healthy alternative to white bread. But is it really? Well, let’s think first about the effect on your insulin levels.
As you probably already know, a negative effect on your insulin sensitivity will make it much easier to store fat and much harder to lose it.
Indeed, both whole wheat and white bread are very high on the glycemic index scale.
This is a measure of how quickly carbohydrates break down into sugar and enter the bloodstream.
As you can see, there’s hardly any difference between them. In fact, both are higher on the glycemic index than a Snickers bar!
That means that they’ll both dramatically spike your insulin levels, and they can both cause you to store body fat, especially when eaten in excess.
Another problem with wholewheat bread has to do with gluten. Gluten is a type of protein found in wheat. It’s the part of wheat that makes it doughy, allowing it to be stretched and molded into the creative shapes that you see in bakery stores.
But gluten is also the root cause of a lot of health problems for many people. It can be hard to digest, especially if you have an intolerance. As a result, you can feel fatigued, experience low energy and feeling bloated after eating wheat-based products.
Not only does wheat cause fat accumulation, but it does so in the most dangerous place of all – your belly.
When you eat too much whole bread, your insulin levels will rise and fall in a cycle that causes feelings of fullness and hunger due to the release of hormones like leptin and ghrelin.
Having routine extreme spikes in blood sugar from eating too much wholewheat bread can also cause fat deposits around vital organs. This is what is known as visceral fat.
When this fat accumulates around organs such as your liver, kidneys, pancreas and intestine, you end up with a very visible extra layer of fat around your midsection.
This may look bad enough already, but it’s just the start. Fat anywhere else on your body is just fat. It sits there as unused calories and might make you feel a little self-conscious, but that’s about it.
Visceral fat is different – it’s deadly! It produces inflammatory signals that wreak havoc on your metabolic and digestive systems.
In fact, visceral fat will constantly be releasing abnormal signals into your bloodstream that will make you unhealthier and fatter.
Too much visceral fat can lead to an abnormal insulin response, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and dementia.
The bottom line here is that wholegrain breads are really not much better than regular white breads.
Instead of wholewheat, substitute with Ezekiel bread which is made from organic sprouted wholegrains and contains zero sugar.
Granola is promoted as a healthy breakfast cereal. Yet many brands of granola are packed with a ton of excess calories, especially in the form of excess sugar.
It’s not uncommon to find granola brands containing 15 grams of sugar in just a half-cup serving. At that rate, you’d be better off filling your breakfast bowl with vanilla ice cream.
Another problem with granola is the serving size. Most nutrition labels suggest a serving size of half a cup. But honestly, most people won’t limit themselves to just half a cup.
More than likely, the total amount you eat will be double. Now, the reason that they put that measly half-cup serving on the label is because they are well aware of how calorie-dense granola is.
A full cup will probably provide around 400 calories – and that’s without the added milk. And 400 calories isn’t the limit. Many people will have even more.
One study showed that when people think they’re eating healthy food, they don’t feel as full as when they eat food that they think is unhealthy.
As a result, they’re far more likely to go back for more servings.
Yogurt is promoted as a smart, healthy way to start your day. But did you know that many popular yogurts contain more sugar than an equivalent amount of ice cream?
Many yogurts are packed with filler carbs and they also lack any fiber. This makes it very unlikely that you’ll be feeling full after eating a regular serving of yogurt.
Many yogurts are also filled with artificial sweeteners. There’s a growing body of research that suggests that full-fat dairy products, such as yogurt, are actually better at helping you to lose weight than the low-fat flavored varieties.
In one meta-analysis, researchers looked into 16 previously published studies on dairy fat and obesity. Eleven of those studies showed that people who ate full-fat dairy were leaner and lost more weight than those who opted for low-fat dairy.
In the other five studies, there was little difference between low- and full-fat. This probably has to do with the fact that all the fat in regular full-fat dairy is usually replaced with sugar when making the low-fat versions.
Another advantage that full-fat dairy has over low-fat is that it’s also more filling. As a result, you’re less likely to graze on other snacks after eating it.
A recent study found that people who ate more low-fat dairy foods, ate a significantly greater number of carbs overall than those who ate full-fat dairy.
A lot of the appeal that low-fat yogurt has is due to the ‘fruity bits’ that can be found in it.
But have you ever noticed what those fruity bits are covered in? It’s usually a mixture of corn sugar, syrup and fruit juice.
That’s not a good mixture. Especially if you want to keep your blood sugar and insulin levels in check to promote fat loss.
And this leads us to our final fake healthy food.
Artificial sweeteners have been hailed as a magic way to enjoy sweet foods while cutting back on calories.
The average American consumes 24 pounds of artificial sweeteners a year to prevent weight gain.
But unfortunately, it doesn’t really work that way. In fact, most artificial sweeteners are a major contributor to weight gain.
Recent research confirms that artificial sweeteners have a negative impact on the hormones that control your hunger.
When you eat food that contains artificial sweeteners your body expects calories. But when it gets zero calories, it starts to crave more sweet foods and drinks.
Artificial sweeteners also desensitize our taste buds. This further increases the chance of ending up eating more food with both artificial sweeteners and food that contains real sugar.
Due to the unnatural, excessively sweet, taste of artificial sweeteners and their effect on your taste buds, many of them encourage sugar cravings and dependence.
They also make it much harder to control blood sugar levels. That’s because they change the bacteria in our gastrointestinal tract.
The bottom line is that you need to cut out most artificial sweeteners from your diet.
The best one that I’ve found is Stevia. But you’ll definitely want to avoid – Saccharin, Aspartame, Sucralose, Neotame, and Acesulfame.
That’s it, guys. I really hope this post has helped you out.
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Portion control study showing we eat more of foods we think are healthy . . .
A 2013 review published in the European Journal of Nutrition reported less weight gain and a lower risk for obesity among people who ate full-fat dairy products. New research is revealing that when the amount of fat is reduced in the diet, it’s replaced with sugar or carbohydrates, which can result in an array of lipid abnormalities.