Over the years I’ve been devouring energy bars as if they were going to extinguish the next day. However, although these bars are substantial and delicious, I cannot help but ask myself if I have been eating something truly healthy.
Part of all professional coaches is to set an example for clients, as well as take them on the path of proper nutrition. Many within our industry are very quick to grab any opportunity to make money, so they sell their consumers what they want to hear: “Of course you can also take cake.” In my opinion, energy bars are part of that paradigm.
It is not always easy to tell your clients hard truths. Sometimes it can be difficult to sell to your clients that hard work really brings results. However, we know that this is an absolute truth both within the scope of food and weight and in the field of training. Even so, it is very difficult for your client to want to hear that indeed, “you must take vegetables“. And this is when the waters begin to get a little murky.
The bars “work”, but are they healthy?
Many of us in the field of training rely on energy bars as a source of energy, both personally and professionally. We take these bars to revitalize and boost our trainings or as meal replacements, and that’s how we sell it to our customers. In fact, energy bars can be effective in that sense, since they provide a quick and convenient energy just when we need it. God knows I’ve taken hundreds, if not thousands, over the past twenty years. Certainly they have helped me to overcome the day, my workouts and long bike rides. In addition, the normal thing is that they even taste good.
But the question is not whether the energy bars work, but whether they are good for us. Therefore, there is a slight but important difference here. Our job in the world of sports and training is to provide results, but what I think is that our job is not simply to sell what “works” in order to obtain certain results, but what is true and healthy.
What do the experts say?
The father of Western medicine, Hippocrates, said that we had to let food be our medicine. In essence, he was one of those who argue that the foundations of health and well-being begin with what we eat. Many of the new food experts, such as Michael Pollan or Andrew Weil, say the same thing: food is our medicine and we, as a collective society, are failing miserably. The problem is, in short, the food packaged and processed.
The problem with energy bars
In his excellent book Fat Chance, Dr. Robert Lustig showed that the real culprit in the obesity epidemic is sugar. Nothing has brought the quickest sugar to the American diet than the packaged and processed food. Energy bars, of course with some exceptions, are part of this phenomenon, as they usually contain an abundant amount of added sugars.
The truth is that the added sugars inside our body increase the amount of insulin in our blood. With this, our body becomes increasingly resistant to insulin, which leads to weight gain. Thus, studies show that when we take foods loaded with added sugars, our body’s insulin response is greater. Another study showed that when we eat processed food compared to healthy food with the same nutrients, the insulin response was 70% higher.
But the thing does not end here. Sugar not only leads to weight gain, but also dangerously affects our health. Thus, in the book Fat Chance, Lustig pointed out that while obesity, of course, is related to health problems; it is not the only cause. You can be in shape or pretend, but also be sick.
The real food is better
Real food requires more time to be metabolized by our body, so we burn more calories in that process, which is a good thing. According to a recent nutritional study, 50% more time is needed to digest “real food” compared to processed food. The fact of requiring more time for digestion means burning more calories in that process, but not only that, but also our body metabolizes more enzymes and micronutrients in that process.
Studies also show that eating real food affects our mood and mood positively. Thus, two studies showed that taking a healthy diet with vegetables, fruit, meat, fish as well as carbohydrates, leads to a lower probability of suffering depression compared to those who consume a diet starring processed foods. It is truly amazing that eating healthy foods can make us not only healthier people, but happier, right?
The bars are not the solution
In short we could say that the energy bars are part of the problem, not the solution. It is true that they are not bad for us in relation to our ability to train; In fact, some can help us improve our performance in the short term. In addition, the energy bars are not going to make us give a patatús. On the contrary, energy bars are bad because they send us the wrong message, the message that processed and packaged food can be healthy and part of the solution.
Bars are simply a healthier alternative to other types of processed foods. In this sense, we could equate them to electronic cigarettes compared to ordinary cigarettes: they are a distraction to the fact that the act of smoking is truly bad for us. Therefore, the time has come for us, as a society, to reject processed foods, meals that come in a box and meals with added sugars.
Related Wiki Link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weight_loss