Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Skinny on the Full Bar (and other magical cookie and bars)

Weight loss has no magical solution. Most diets will work if you stick to them, but once you go off, the weight usually returns. There are some good diets, like Weight Watchers, that teach you how to eat for life, and any "diet" that helps you to eat healthy and more balanced meals for life is a good thing. Generally, the rule to losing weight and keeping it off is exercise, water, good nutrition, and sleep.

When I see commercials that advertise shakes, bars, or cookies in place of meals, I raise an eyebrow. It doesn't make any sense at all. Yet I am not adverse to eating them as a snack.

If you've ever had the opportunity to taste one of those popular "cookie diet" cookies, you will quickly learn why they are used for weight loss. In my opinion, they are bland and unappealing, but edible cookies. My friend was on the diet and offered me a cookie, and I can tell you first hand that I would not pay for them (no offense to my friend). Here are the actual ingredients for the oatmeal cookie of one brand, off of their website: Enriched wheat flour (niacin, reduced iron, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), rolled oats, vegetable margarine (palm oil, water, soybean oil, salt, natural flavor, soy lecithin, beta carotene [color], vitamin A palmitate), their brand of Protein Blend (soy protein isolate, whey protein concentrate [milk], wheat protein concentrate, whey powder [milk]), sugar, crystalline fructose, raisins, maltitol syrup, polydextrose, vegetable glycerine, egg whites, powdered cellulose, calcium carbonate, spices, mono- and diglycerides, natural flavors, baking soda, cream of tartar, soy lecithin, ascorbic acid, and sucralose (a sugarless sweetener). Not great (I don't like the fake sugars), but not horrible. The cookies have soy and whey protein in them, rolled oats, wheat flour, and egg whites, all of which are pretty good. So nutritionally, they aren't so bad.

The cookie diet will work if one sticks to it, because the cookies are short on calories and big on fullness. You get a handful of cookies each day, along with one sensible meal. So it's calorie restriction, old-fashioned will power, and careful eating on your free meal. It's not magic, it's just a packaged option that allows people to think less about what they are eating. You can't eat like this for life, though, or on vacation, and shouldn't what you eat be about the everyday?

I checked out the Fullbars today. The Cranberry Almond is 150 calories, and has 5 grams of fiber, 5 grams of protein. The first five ingredients are: Brown Rice Syrup, Puffed Wheat, Soy Protein Concentrate, Honey, and Acacia Gum, followed by Cranberries, Sunflower Seeds, Agave Syrup, Glycerine, and Almonds. Much more whole and healthy than the cookies, in my opinion, and frankly, they taste good. The bar label suggests you drink 8 oz. of water and eat the bar 30 minutes before the meal, suggesting you will feel fuller and eat less. This is true! But it would be true with 8 oz. of water and a cucumber, or a bunch of carrots, or a 90 calorie cottage cheese. You are eating and drinking 30 minutes before a meal! Keep drinking that water and you'll be even more full. It's not magic, it's common sense.

The point, my friends, is that weight loss requires eating healthy foods in balance, and in controlled portions. It requires water, and both cardio and muscle building exercises. It also requires good, uninterrupted sleep. So I've pulled the curtain on the wizard for you.

I do like the Fullbar for a morning or afternoon snack. It's yummy, pretty healthy, and has 5 grams of protein, and 5 grams of fiber. Just keep your nutrition plan clean, and to whole foods.

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