The 5 WORST protein bar ingredients… (Do YOUR bars have these?)

Do you eat protein bars?

I mean they so convenient, yet so full of garbage!

They hold the promise of being healthy, easy and full of life-giving, muscle-building protein.

But have you ever taken a minute to look actually look at what’s Really IN them?

I think you’re going to be in for a shock when you read the TRUTH about the ingredients in some of the most popular protein bars on the market right now.

Let’s get right to it…

#1 – Soy Protein Isolate (SPI)

This is, unfortunately, one of the most prevalent protein sources you’ll find in protein bars, especially those marketed to women. This marketing would have you believe that soy is an excellent protein source for women because of the isoflavones found in it. But studies have indicated that these soy isoflavones can actually be TOXIC because of how the soy is processed.

100% Soy Protein - Good or Bad ?

In addition, SPI was actually considered a WASTE product in soy processing until recently, when it was discovered that money could be made by passing it off as a protein source. It’s cheap and definitely NOT a high-quality protein. It should be avoided.

And the final nail in the soy coffin:
GMO. A very high percentage of the soy grown in the United States is from genetically modified organisms (GMO). They don’t currently have to be labeled as such but if you’re buying any sort of processed food, chances are good you’re getting a GMO-sourced product.

#2 – High Fructose Corn Syrup

This is an easy one to figure out…
The adverse health effects of it are well documented (contrary to what the commercials from the Corn Growers Association claim – those are truly among the most annoying commercials in existence, trying to make people who question corn syrup look stupid).

It’s one of the WORST things you can eat and yet there are still bars that use it as a primary ingredient.


#3 – Fractionated Palm Kernel Oil

Palm kernel oil is a cheap unhealthy fat. Unlike plain palm oil, palm kernel oil can’t be obtained organically. Instead, the oil must be extracted from the pit with a gasoline-like hydrocarbon solvent. The fractioned form is the most processed… If you see that in the ingredients, you should definitely avoid it.

Palm Kernal Oil

#4 – Sugar Alcohols

This includes ingredients like Maltitol Syrup, Xylitol, Sorbitol, Lactitol, Mannitol, and Erythritol. Sugar alcohols are included in bars for sweetness – especially in bars that are “carb controlled”.

Sugar Alcohols - What The Heck Is That?

Sugar alcohols don’t impact blood sugar as much as regular sugar because they’re not well absorbed in the digestive tract… And when things aren’t well absorbed in the digestive tract, things happen (if you know what I mean).

In small amounts, sugar alcohols aren’t a big problem, but if you start getting into the double digits of grams of sugar alcohol (and many low-carb bars have 20+ grams), THEN you can start to see unpleasant digestive issues.

#5 – Artificial Sweeteners

I won’t get into the whole debate about whether artificial sweeteners are bad for you or not and what they turn into in your body, etc…

Personally, I’m of the mindset that if it’s created by science, chances are good your body won’t recognize it and won’t be able to metabolize it into something actually good for you. Therefore, I try and stay away from artificial sweeteners as much as I possibly can. I find the actual natural flavor of real food to be pretty good đŸ˜‰

Say No To Artificial Sweeteners

In Summary…

Those are my Top 5 Worst Protein Bar Ingredients

And you will actually find bars that contain ALL 5 of these ingredients in them.

The main problem I have with the vast majority of protein bars today is that at their most base level, they’re deceptive. The bars are put forward as convenient, healthy alternatives to food for “on the go” people. Yet when you take a close look at the ingredients, they’re actually WORSE for you than most candy bars.

Obviously money is the biggest factor…

Companies that use high-quality ingredients in their bars have to charge more for them in order to stay in business. Hence the brick-like slop sold in bar form that you’ll find in the grocery store aisles today.

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Lee Hayward

About The Author


Lee Hayward is a former competitive bodybuilder and muscle building coach who has been online coaching people since 1997. His work has been featured in several international magazines such as: FLEX, Muscle Insider, Muscle Mag International, Testosterone, Ironmag, and Forbes. Lee's main focus right now is with helping men over 40 - who don't want to be fat anymore - lose the gut, build muscle, and get back in shape. If you're ready to "Start Again" for the last time and finally build a lean healthy body that you can be proud of, just e-mail Lee to discuss a realistic action plan that's right for you...

1 Comment

  • Joseph Gregorio

    Spot on post Lee,

    The 5 nasties you listed above are certainly more common in protein bars as well as in protein shakes more than ever – especially artificial sweetners. I feel most supplement companies are simply looking to drive costs down so are sacrificing quality for profit which is sadly all too common.

    One such company that springs to mind is Protein World who simply don’t care about the quality of their products at all.

    Although they artificial sweeteners are bad especially, they do have their place in some products though. Without it, some would just taste like a sweaty elephant’s nut sack! Not ideal.