CLIF Bars Are Candy Bars
What’s the difference between a CLIF bar and a Snickers bar?
Not much, actually. For starters, they have about the same amount of calories. CLIF Bar: 260, Snickers: 250.
But I just can’t keep my mouth shut.
It was after consuming a CLIF bar one evening that I had this revelation.
Usually, I wouldn’t eat one unless I was starving on a long hike or for a “sort of being healthy but not really that healthy” occasional treat. On the evening in question, it was the latter and I had a Pecan Pie CLIF bar on hand that I’d received at a recent fitness blogger’s event.
I went to bed with my stomach full and satisfied. An hour later though, I woke up to a bad stomach ache.
WTPP (what the pecan pie), I wondered?
I dug the wrapper out of the trash and inspected the ingredients:
Brown Rice Syrup, ClifPro, Pecans, Pecan Pralines, White Coating, Cane Sugar, blah blah blah.
All I could think was, “How is the first ingredient in a ‘healthy’ bar sugar?!?” Update: Not just sugar, but a form of sugar containing unhealthy and unregulated amounts of arsenic >>
Yes. Though it’s a different substance than traditional white sugar, brown rice syrup is still just sugar. Update: to address some of the comments below, here are just a few of the diseases and adverse effects attributed to eating too much sugar: metabolic syndrome, Type II Diabetes, and visceral fat accumulation.
And, according to Dr. Michael Greger of NutritionFacts.org, brown rice sugar (or syrup in this case) is actually the most nutritionally deficient of ALL types of sugar.
What’s the first ingredient in a Snickers you ask? Sugar. Well, it’s actually milk chocolate, but the first ingredient in that is sugar. Interesting.
On to the next ingredient: ClifPro, a conglomerate of soybeans, “crisps,” and soy protein isolate. Although whole soy is a beneficial component of a healthy diet, soy protein isolate is highly-processed, and likely doesn’t possess the same health benefits.
And now back to our black sheep, Snickers. Its second ingredient is peanuts. Huh. Just peanuts? Also packing protein, but unlike soy protein isolate, peanuts are at least a whole food.
If you asked me, the Snickers now has a leg up on the CLIF bar.
I’m not going to go into great detail about the rest of the ingredients, suffice to say that after our first introduction to sugar as the first ingredient in the CLIF bar, it reared its ugly head four mores times in various disguises, aka cane sugar and date paste. Date paste, however, is at least a whole food. But again, it’s still sugar.
Now to the nutritional info. As mentioned above, Snickers has 250 calories and a Pecan Pie CLIF bar has 260. Snickers has three more grams of saturated fat than the CLIF bar, and four more grams of sugar. So looking at that, I guess you could say the CLIF bar is slightly more nutritious. However, the difference is small.
Bottom line: When it comes down to it, they’re both candy bars.
Don’t fool yourself into thinking you’re eating a nutritious snack with bars like CLIF, Luna, etc. If you don’t care, then eat a Snickers.
I, on that evening, would not have chosen a Snickers bar as an appropriate pre-bedtime snack.
I guess the problem lies in just reading the nutritional info instead of the full ingredient list. Also, in not knowing what certain ingredients actually are. Protein Isolate. Sounds ok, right? Brown Rice Syrup. Gotta be better than sugar, right? Wrong.
I’m not here to wage war on CLIF Bar. I’m just saying, don’t eat them under the pretense that they are a nutritious snack.
They’re made solely from fruit, nuts and seeds and sweetened only by the natural sugar in those fruits. They come in amazing flavors like Peanut Butter Cookie, Coconut Cream and Blueberry Muffin. They don’t have a lot of protein, but they make a delicious, whole foods snack.
If you have a food processor, you can try making a homemade version yourself. Just toss in your favorite nuts, fruits, and some dates and pulverize.
Update 2: Before you comment that these bars are not meant to be snacks, the POINT of this post is that they are MARKETED as snacks to the general public. If you’re using them as a professional/endurance athlete, that’s great. I’m here to address the fact that a multitude of people have been hoodwinked by targeting toward “normal” people. The average consumer (and even the average active person) does not need 21 grams of processed sugar in a meal or snack.