Protein bars are an easy way to curb hunger or get supplemental protein after a good workout. This is especially true if you are a mom like me, who manages to pack nutritious lunches for three kids every day but can’t seem to remember to pack a single post-workout snack for herself!
Trolling the nutrition bar aisle today after my workout, I came across a new one – the OhYeah! ONE bar. The protein and sugar grams were clearly highlighted on the front of the wrapper – 21 grams of protein and only 1 gram of sugar.
The one gram of sugar caught my eye – how did they achieve a decent tasting bar without any sugar? Is there an artificial sweetener involved? Additionally, only 1 gram of sugar made me think it would be too low in carbohydrates to be a good recovery bar (a 3:1 carb/protein ratio is recommended). But I was intrigued enough to read the Nutrition Facts panel on the back of the wrapper.
Ah ha! I found the sweetness – it has 9 grams of something called sugar alcohols (and some sucralose, though as the last ingredient in the list).
Sugar alcohols are both a sugar (carbohydrate) and an alcohol, but they do not cause intoxication like other alcohols and, while some are almost as sweet as sugar, they do not have as many calories. Some have no effect on blood sugar, and are widely used in sugar-free and reduced-calorie foods. Common ones you may have heard of are xylitol and sorbitol. In addition to being lower in calories, sugar alcohols may positively impact gut and bone health. However, in large amounts they may also cause digestive problems such as bloating and gas.
The sugar alcohol in the OhYeah! bars is called maltitol. Maltitol, unlike xylitol and sorbitol, does cause spikes in blood sugar. This makes me feel that highlighting the “1 gram of sugar” on the front of the label is a tad misleading. Yes, only 1 gram of sugar, but 25 grams of carbs, and 9 grams of a sugar alcohol that, while much lower on the glycemic index than table sugar, is still substantially higher on the index than the other sugar alcohols. But, this now meant that the OhYeah! bar made a decent post-workout snack.
Now for the important parts: taste and price.
There were five different flavors for sale in the store I went to: chocolate birthday cake, chocolate chip cookie dough, birthday cake, cookies and creme, and almond bliss. I tried both birthday cakes and the almond bliss.
The first one I had was the chocolate birthday cake. Now maybe it was because I was starving but this thing was DELICIOUS! Much better taste and texture than the PowerBars I’ve been having lately. At a little more than $2 per bar, I thought it was reasonably priced for the size and taste. The second one I tried was the almond bliss, but I didn’t enjoy this one as much (maybe I wasn’t hungry enough!). It tasted a bit dry to me, but my teenage daughter really liked it. Lastly I tried the birthday cake flavored bar, and while not as good as the chocolate one (is that really a surprise?), it was still quite good.
Misleading labelling aside, I think I’ll be grabbing an OhYeah! bar when I need a quick snack to hold me over ’til my next real meal. Or maybe I’ll get my act together and manage to pack myself something from home. Ha – who am I kidding! I’ll be trying the cookie dough one tomorrow!