What’s Really in Your Protein Bars – Whistler Video Part 1

What's Really in Your Protein Bars

Do you really know whats in your protein bar? Lets start reading the ingredient list from beautiful Whistler Ski Resort, BC!

Soy Protein Isolates & Hydrolyzed Soy

There is just so much controversy and so many different opinions when it comes to soy everything. In putting together this guide I read hundreds of articles, studies and just other “expert” opinions online. Trying to determine exactly what are the risks or benefits when it comes to eating soy products.

This is what I have decided for me. It’s not the worst thing you can eat. I’m not going to avoid soy products as I love a soy latte every now and then and if my sister makes me a tofu stir-fry I’m going to enjoy it without stressing about whether the soy was genetically modified or not.

However I eat energy bars a lot so do I want to be eating something that has any potential to effect my health that often? No! So below I go through some of the potential health effects of eating energy bars with the most processed soy ingredients soy protein isolate and hydrolyzed soy protein. I’m not talking about avoiding soy all together, just maybe thinking about how often you might be eating the most processed form of these beans. Soy Protein Isolate is often the number one ingredient in protein bars on the shelves.

protein bar ingredients

Research regarding soy protein and cardiovascular health at one stage was determined to be so robust that food companies were allowed to state that “25 grams of soy protein a day, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may reduce the risk of heart disease. A serving of (x) provides x grams of soy protein.” But are the potential detrimental effects are starting to outweigh the potential health benefits. The list seems to be getting longer and longer including increased risk of cancer, disturbed hormonal balance, disrupted thyroid function or intake of pesticides and toxins through processing methods.

Here are some of the potential concerns people seem to be having in relation to soy protein isolate. Just a disclaimer that there is really limited evidence that any of these health concerns are caused by soy isolate or any soy products but these are some potential effects that some people are experiencing and talking about;

  • GMO Highly Processed Form of Soy – Unless the packaging says organic soy it is most likely that the soy has been genetically modified and then highly processed to get it to the high protein supplement we eat in our processed energy bars. Concerns range from increased inflammation, effects on thyroid function and even the potential to increase depression.
  • Metal contamination: the concern around metal contamination in soy protein isolate seems to be around the potential for aluminum, found in the vats they use to isolate the soy protein during processing, may leach into the soy protein. This increases the likelihood of heavy metal poisoning. I’m surprised however with all the talk of the potential for heavy metal poisoning I couldn’t find anyone who had actually then tested the metal concentrations in the soy protein isolate.
  • Allergic reactions – Another form of soy protein often found in energy bars is Hydrolyzed soy protein. This form of soy protein unfortunately seems to cause more allergic reactions but is super cheap to make and so is often added to our favourite energy bar as a high protein thickener. Its also a source of yeast, can also cause disruptions to thyroid glands and can lead to a weakened immune system and metabolism.
  • Isoflavones – iso what? Isoflavones are antioxidants that just like soy seem to have both potential benefits and potential side effects. They mimic oestrogen in the body which has been shown to increase bone mineral density and decrease the frequency and severity of hot flashes. However it has also been linked to an increase in breast cancer and a few cases where they have played havock on mens hormones with some uncomfortable symptoms being experienced.

So, again I wouldn’t stop eating whole, real soy products, miso, tofu, edamame etc but maybe think twice about soy protein isolates and concentrates especially in high quantities or in an energy bar you consume often. It seems the real controversy is around the highly processed forms of soy as opposed to the whole food varieties especially organic soy products like organic tofu.

Want to know about some other common protein bar ingredients that could be destroying your health? Check out my special report below 10 Things You Didn’t Know Were In Your Favorite Protein Bar!

Don’t forget to also check out PART 2


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Hi, I'm Karen and I work with busy people just like you every day to help them boost energy levels, lose weight, clear up their skin and improve their health through finding the right foods that work for their unique body. My 1-on-1 and group health coaching programs focus on a customized plan for you that fits into your lifestyle and is right for your body. We focus on whole foods and building sustainable habits to transform your life. No dieting, no scales and no feeling deprived. Ready to embrace healthy eating and feel better in your body? Ready to stop feeling tired all the time? Come over and say hello in the Real Energy Food Facebook Group

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