Last month I was setting up a table at the Vitamin Shoppe, a supplement and vitamin store, to find potential new clients and make myself known as a personal trainer in the neighborhood. I was situated next to the protein bar aisle for the next 3 hours and while I was there the cashier introduced to me to MeatChips (more on that later!).
The Challenge of Healthy Food On The Go
Finding healthy food on the go with a decent amount of protein has always been a challenge for me. As I result, I always turn to protein bars. Throwing a bar into my bag ensures that I am meeting my protein requirements for the day when I’m on the go.
The dilemma I have with protein bars on the market is that they can be loaded with more carbs than protein or they contain too much protein that when you bite into them they are hard as a rock. I end up throwing half of it away because they taste like hard chocolate flavored sandpaper.
This usually happens with bars containing 25 plus grams of protein.
The Hunt Continues...
So my hunt for delicious tasting protein bars was a continual journey until I found myself at the Vitamin Shoppe.
By standing next to the protein bar aisle I was exposed to brands I have never even heard of that had delicious looking packaging. Like the OhYeah! Birthday Cake bar that women rave about on Facebook, the BPI Protein Bars in Apple Crumb Cake or the Cereal Protein Bars in the Waffle flavor.
It was like heavenly sweets packaged in a supposedly healthy protein bar! The packaging made the items look tasty and the nutrition facts made the bar protein worthy with lower carbs.
I mean who doesn’t want to eat your protein in the form of cake?
High protein that tastes like cake?! I’ll take a box of them!
But looking closer at the ingredients and that's where I was sorely disappointed. The ingredient label is where 95% of the protein bars on the market just don’t make the cut for me. I mean look at the label for the OhYeah! Birthday Cake bar,
Wasn’t partially hydrogenated oils bad for your health and yet they put it in this bar? No thanks! And with the sugar alcohol they snuck in there in the nutrition facts to make it slightly lower in carbs will give most people gas, bloat, and other digestive issues.
Why A Healthier Version Junk Food Still Makes It Junk Food
When I read Josh Hillis’ book Fat Loss Happens on Monday years ago this statement really struck a cord with me,
“The number on the scale indicates the QUANTITY of food you’re eating while your body fat indicates the QUALITY of food you’re eating.”
It helped me simplify my eating in relation to how it affected my body metrics.
Sure those protein bars had all the right macros on the nutrition label but WHERE they sourced their macros from is why I choose not to buy and eat those types of bars no matter how delicious they taste.
It’s perfectly okay to eat them once in a while but if I'm eating this regularly then I want to buy the highest quality foods I can afford because the impact that ingredients have on my body is cumulative. This is the same mindset you should have for your own body.
Junk food with protein is still considered junk food no matter what the label says.
If you want to be healthy and feel great for the long haul eat high quality, real, unprocessed foods.
Processed healthy foods are still considered processed foods
Just the other day a trainer was talking about her new peanut butter obsession flavor by Nuts N' More, Birthday Cake. She said she had to switch flavors to slow down her consumption of the container because it tasted so good!
I get the current craze for various nut butters because I am currently in love with a Santa Cruz organic peanut butterspread myself and put it on crackers with local honey at night for a snack. So when my co-worker was raving about her nut butter I was intrigued. I picked up her empty birthday cake nut butter container, looked at the label. This is what I saw,
More sugar alcohols in the form of xylitol, a manmade ingredient that looks and tastes just like sugar. There are multiple benefits including that it doesn’t spike your insulin like regular sugar does but it’s drawbacks include gas, bloating, and diarrhea when consumed in large quantities.
I stayed far away from the nut butter thinking I will also consume the entire container and be gassy all day long.
But because I have a sweet tooth I am completely drawn to foods that are healthy but taste like junk food. Like birthday cake protein bars and nut butters or those cookies n cream and apple pie flavored Quest bars.
Junk food that is good for you? It’s almost like too good to be true. And in reality it really is!
Why junk foods with the right macros is still considered junk food
Which brings me to Meat Chips.
That’s what I said to the Vitamin Shoppe sales person who introduced me to it.
Sounds kinda gross but I was intrigued and curious. In the size of one of those Frito Lays variety packs it boasted 21 grams of protein with no artificial flavors based on dehydrated chicken meat.
Turning over the bag of meat chips this is what I saw,
Ingredients: Meat Chips (ground white corn masa flour, chicken, high oleic expeller pressed sunflower oil), Seasoning (sweet cream buttermilk, corn syrup solids, dehydrated garlic, salt, dehydrated onion, sour cream, (cultured cream, nonfat milk), natural flavor, yeast extract, parsley, lactic acid, calcium lactate, disodium inosinate and disodium guanlyate.)
I gasped! These chips look pretty clean minus the last two ingredients which are added to boost the flavoring like MSG. I was like wow this is pretty good compared to all the other junk food on the market that has protein and low carbs. With the four flavor offerings I am willing to bet those meat chips taste pretty good too!
This was like the perfectly packaged junk food with a great macro composition!
But if I’m honest with myself I will never buy those chips for multiple reasons,
(1) Sure there is a substantial amount of protein in it but I guarantee that 21 grams from an actual chicken breast will keep me fuller versus 21 grams from a bag of chips.
(2) I can eat 6 bags of it and meet my daily protein requirements but the satisfaction factor is simply not there compared to eating real food.
(3) It’ll never taste like a real, unhealthy junk food chip chip. Just like eating the low fat versions of food, it’s never as satisfying as eating the 100% fat versions.
Which brings me to the final point of this article is that no matter how healthy, gluten free, no artificial flavored etcetera a food is if it’s processed it’s considered part of the processed foods.
The Irony of the Be Healthier Movement Fad
Everyone is aware that they should stay away from processed foods but in reality we’re making healthier versions of processed foods that are at the end of the day still considered processed foods.
At the end of the day you want your diet to consist of lean proteins and plenty of vegetables and fruits that look like REAL foods from the farm. Carbs are optional and if you still got room on your plate after you eat enough of the first two items then add the carbs.
Remember to eat real foods and take a closer look at what you're putting into your body because you only have one for the rest of your life