You see them all over the place these days... nutrition bars that claim to be healthy and good for weight loss or muscle building, but when you read the label, you see an endless list of chemicals, sugars, processed trans fats, and other harmful overly processed ingredients.

There are so many types of health bars and protein bars on the market today, how do you know if you are actually getting something healthy or just junk food in disguise?

Again, just as I've talked about grocery store food choices, you really need to know how to read labels if you're going to stand a chance at finding a truly healthy food bar.

To be quite honest, most of the bars out there are pure junk... candy bars disguised through labeling as a health food bar.

Just a couple weeks ago, I was going on a bike ride with a friend and needed a quick bar to make sure I had enough energy for the bike ride.

Well, I didn't have any bars on me, so my friend gave me an extra slim fast bar he had.

Keep in mind that these slim fast bars are marketed as health foods for losing weight.

These things are just a flat out joke...there's nothing even remotely nutritional about them. In my opinion, these slim fast bars are WORSE for you than candy bars!

The first ingredient in this bar that my friend gave me was corn syrup! Then the second ingredient was sugar (hooray more sugar!), followed by hydrogenated oils (source of deadly trans fats). After that, the list went on with nothing but junk such as artificial flavors, colors, evil artificial sweeteners, more hydrogenated refined oils, and rounded out with some highly processed soy protein isolate (which despite popular belief, processed soy is NOT healthy for you... I'll talk in detail about that in a future article) just to give your body some more junk.

So not only are these weight loss bars a disaster nutritionally for you, but the bar tasted absolutely horrible! It tasted like chemicals and was way too overly sweetened (not a surprise with all of the sugar, corn syrup, sugar alcohols, AND artificial sweeteners). This is a prime example of over-engineering of food.

So how do you determine a healthy protein bar or energy bar?

I look for simplicity in a good bar. Many of the healthiest and tastiest bars I've found have only a couple basic ingredients such as nuts, seeds, and fruit. I also look for organic ingredients and raw ingredients if possible.

A couple of my favorite truly healthy bars:

1. Organic Food Bars - This is actually the brand name.

Depending on which flavor, these are usually a base of organic almond butter (or cashew butter) with a certain type of fruit, organic seeds, organic biosprouts (quinoa, etc), and some organic rice protein. Some flavors include an organic dark chocolate as well. They also have a line of bars that use exclusively raw ingredients.

Not only are these bars extremely nutritious, but I think they are delicious as well and have a lot of flavors to choose from such as chocolate chip, blueberry, cranberry, high protein, and more.

You won't find these bars at your local grocery store, but I have found them at several health food stores.

2. Larabars - These are even simpler in ingredients than organic food bars. Usually larabars are just 2 or 3 ingredients, and mostly raw... a blend of crushed nuts along with a type of fruit is the usual combination, but they have a lot of different flavors so it can vary.

These are also delicious and you will NEVER see a list of chemicals a mile long in their ingredient list... usually just nuts and fruit, and that's it! Simple IS better. This is a very high quality bar. Again, you probably won't find these at your local grocery store, but I've found these at various health food markets.

When you actually find truly healthy bars like these examples above, they make great quick snacks while you are traveling or while you are at work.

I carry some on me almost at all times, just to make sure I have healthy options to eat whenever I need a quick snack, so that I am not tempted by fast food joints or junk food vending machines. Good luck and be sure to read those labels to make sure you're getting a health food bar and not a candy bar in disguise. See below for 5 unique tips to help you lose your stubborn belly fat.

For a free fat loss report detailing why you struggle with stubborn belly fat, go to the following site at Workouts & Abs Diet Tips for Burning Belly Fat

Michael Geary (CPT) is an International Fitness Expert with clients in over 150 countries world-wide, contributing writer for Muscle & Fitness Hers Magazine, and author of the internationally-popular book, The Truth about 6-Pack Abs.

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