My friend Tom Venuto calls protein bars “candy bars in disguise.” Despite this, some people actually recommend protein bars to people trying to lose weight. In fact, the protein bar could be helping you get fatter.

In a study published in The Medical Science Monitor, 20 adults were instructed to eat the following on five separate days: white bread (all carbs, all worthless), a low-carb Atkins Advantage Bar, a medium-carb Balance Bar, a high-carb Power Bar, and a skinless chicken breast (no carbs at all).

The white bread, which elevated their insulin levels sky-high, was used as a baseline comparison. And guess what? The high-carb bar raised their insulin to nearly three-quarters the level of the white bread. The medium-carb bar didn’t fare much better, raising their insulin to about one-third the level of the white bread. The low-carb bar? About one-quarter the level of the white bread. In short, all the bars increased insulin levels, as any food would, but in proportion to the amount of carbohydrate they contain. The chicken? Almost twice under the insulin response of white bread.

When attempting to lose body fat, you want to keep your insulin levels at a trickle. Lower levels of insulin in the blood equate to higher levels of glucagon, your body’s fat-mobilizing hormone. You burn more fat when insulin is kept in check. This is the reason low-carb dieting works so well for so many people: the lower the carbs, the lower the insulin response.

Researchers tried to blame the insulin spike from the Balance Bar (which contains good fats) on its combination of protein and carbs. That was rather silly, considering the Balance Bar is full of sugar. (Now you know why these bars taste so good. They’re Snickers candy with less carbs.)

When dieting to lose body fat, throw your protein bars in the garbage and stick to real food. Load up on lean meats and veggies. These foods not only produce the lowest levels of insulin, but also the highest level of TEF (thermogenic effect of food). The higher the TEF, the greater the amount of energy the body requires to digest and process the food. In short, you’re using more calories just by eating the stuff.

Now that is good diet food!

[Ed. Note: Jon Benson, a life coach and nutrition counselor.  His work in the field of post-40 fitness and mental empowerment has helped countless thousands. Learn how you can burn fat and get fit at www.fitover40.com .]
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