Myth or truth? Protein bars can replace meals.

Protein bars, also known as energy bars, are convenient … and they taste good. And, thanks to an incredible amount of advertising hype, they can be consumed without the guilt of the candy bar.

However, most of the ingredients in energy bars are anything but natural. Two key ingredients – soy protein isolate and whey protein – are the waste products of the soy oil and cheese industries respectively. Pictured above is a protein bar made of whey protein and chocolate, which looks quite similar to a candy bar. Apple and lemon fiber, used to create a crunchy effect, are also waste products, made from the pesticide-laden pulp left over from squeezing the fruits for their juice. Soy lecithin, another common ingredient, is a waste product of the soy oil industry. Energy bars often include trans fats or industrial vegetable oils.

Do they actually give energy?

Most of the sweeteners in energy bars are made by highly industrialized processes. The original energy bars, such as the Power Bar and the Source Bar, were based on so-called natural sweeteners – high-fructose corn syrup and juice concentrates – along with dried fruits and nuts, a combination that resulted in higher percentages of carbohydrates than the typical chocolate candy bar (which is rich in cocoa butter, a healthy natural fat). One molecule of fat produces more energy, and produces it more efficiently, than one molecule of carbohydrate or glucose. Therefore, fat will give you more energy than carbohydrates.


Energy bars are touted as being a good source of protein, but there is nothing natural about the protein used in today’s energy bars. Soy protein comes with an initial burden of phytic acid, enzyme inhibitors and estrogen-like compounds called isoflavones. More toxins are formed during high-temperature chemical processing, including nitrates, lysinalanine and MSG. Soy protein must be processed at very high temperatures to reduce levels of phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors, a process that over denatures many of the proteins in soy, especially lysine, making them unavailable to the body. Whey proteins are very fragile and are highly damaged during high-temperature processing.

Healthy Snack Recommendations

  • Homemade beef, bison, turkey jerky. You’ll find numerous recipes published online.
  • Homemade bars with fruit, coconut butter, nut butters, nuts such as this one published by Radiant Life
  • Raw Cheese
  • Soaked/sprouted nuts 
  • Coconut bars – homemade, Oskri
  • Lara Bars – fruit and nut bar
  • Go Raw – sprouted seed, grain and nut bar
  • Epic All Natural Meat Bar

What other alternatives to protein bars would you add to our list?