Magic Wands: Are Protein Bars Really Good For 

By | March 20, 2021

THE FIRST PROTOTYPES OF THE FOOD BARS WE ARE FAMOUS appeared thanks to the development of astronautics. Howard Bauman, a food technologist at the cereal company Pillsbury Company, and his team developed solid food for NASA astronauts. Since then, protein bars have come a long way and have become an advertising bomb. Finding out if the bars are really as useful as they say.

Space sticks

Coming up with food for astronauts was a rather difficult task, because it had to have a long shelf life, provide the necessary nutrients, be suitable for zero gravity conditions and be compact enough to fit into a spacesuit. Bauman’s team developed nutritional cubes that the American Gagarin , Scott Carpenter, took with him into space , and later registered patents for other products, such as relish sauce, which could be cut into thin layers, and flour products that did not crumble.

In the early 1970s, Bauman trademarked ” space food sticks, ” which were ” stick- shaped unfrozen energy snacks containing a balanced amount of carbohydrates, fats and proteins.” However, when asked what exactly is the “balance” of the product, the manufacturers did not answer and did not support their claims with nutritional research.

In the future, the company decided not to dwell on food for astronauts, given that this was not its main field of activity, and offered “food sticks” for general consumption, abandoning the word “space”. K Unfortunately, this product is not widespread and virtually disappeared from the shelves of US stores by 1980, in parallel with a decrease in the state interest in the space program.

Athlete Bars

The idea of ​​creating nutritional bars for athletes came to the mind of the Canadian marathon runner Brian Maxwell, who, with the help of his girlfriend, nutritionist and future wife Jennifer Bidulf, created their first prototype in his own kitchen . The goal of his experiments was to create the perfect nutritional bar that allows runners to endure long distances without completely wasting their stores of glycogen , a carbohydrate that has the function of storing energy in the body. In 1986 , he created PowerBar, a company specializing in athletic bars.

Maxwell, who was a celebrity for his day, had little difficulty in establishing his product among athletes. Particularly fortunate was the victory of cyclist Greg Le Mond in the Tour de France, who used the PowerBar during the competition – so the bars ended up in the pocket of almost every athlete of that time. It is said that after Janet Jackson took a large batch of these bars on tour , it increased their popularity among artists as well.

Nutrition bars were not only attractive to celebrities, but and have gained a reputation as “useful” product among other consumers – professional marathon runner and a specialist in nutrition poor do not advise. Marketers have actively promoted (and continue to do so) bars as an extremely healthy and quick way to satisfy hunger. As with many other similar products, advertising for bars quickly diversified for women and men: if “male” bars should help build muscle and “strength,” then “female” bars should help with weight loss. We see these stereotypes in advertising of “useful” products today.

Bars today

Today’s bar market is wide, constantly changing, adapting to the consumer. Bars with high protein content are popular among the people involved in sports, and those who sit on diets. Chocolate bars turn out to be a delicacy for some children and a habitual snack for an office worker. Recently , many “natural” bars have appeared on the shelves with “healthy foods” containing various so-called superfoods.

The composition of the bars varies not only from brand to brand, but even between flavors, but none of them can be the key to healthy nutrition in itself, despite the fact that their advertising usually tries to convince us otherwise. As with dietary supplements , manufacturers are not always required to disclose the full composition of products and can attribute any magical properties to them . Bars are also popular in network marketing products (eg Herbalife).

The USSR had its own nutritional bar – Hematogen. It was invented and first released in 1890 by the Swiss scientist Adolf Friedrich Gommel. His hematogen was a fluid based on bovine blood and protein. Starting with the 1920 hematogen sold in the Soviet pharmacies primarily as a prophylactic for children against anemia and rickets, while its composition is not greatly evolved with the times Gommelya – Soviet hematogen made from the blood of cattle, which is strongly shaken in for 15 minutes (which prevented blood clotting), dried, and the resulting powder was mixed with sugar, molasses and condensed milk. Today’s Hematogen bars differ little in composition from Soviet ones, with the exception that dried fruits and other ingredients for taste are often added to modern bars .

Despite the fact that the main ingredient of hematogen is food black albumin (this is the name of a product obtained from bovine blood), it accounts for only 5% of the composition of the bar, which corresponds to approximately 10 mg of iron – this is approximately the daily recommendation for adult men (8 mg) and less than the daily recommendation for adult women who have not entered into menopause (which recommended 18 mg), and only one third of the recommendations for nursing mothers (27 mg). The remaining 95% of the hematogen is sugar and other flavor-enhancing ingredients. (For adults, liquid hematogen was also available, where processing animal blood was contained in a wine solution with sugar, it was recommended to use 2-3 tablespoons for prophylactic purposes).

While hematogen can be a good source of iron, care must be taken to see how it fits into the rest of the diet. Back in 2017 year the Ministry of Agriculture pointed to the fact that the average Russian consumes about 100 grams of sugar daily, which is approximately twice the recommended norm. So if your goal is to increase the amount of iron in your diet, improving your overall diet is a more effective and less harmful option . You can also take a course of iron tablets, remembering that an overdose of this element can lead to stomach upset, and it is best to consult a specialist.

A balanced diet, not a balanced bar

Some bars are made from plant-based ingredients such as dried fruits, nuts, seeds and grains, and if they don’t contain added sugar, then they can be a great snack and part of a healthy diet and one way to increase the use of plant-based foods in your diet. Others, especially high protein bars, use animal proteins such as milk or milk ingredients.

Normal sports (protein) bar may contain in itself in average from 150 – 400 calories, as well as 10-30 grams of protein. In a normal lifestyle, not burdened with high physical training, women need 2000 calories and 45 grams of protein , and men – 2500 calories and 55 grams of protein. Chronic lack of aspects of the diet causes malnutrition, but increased consumption also does not go unnoticed. The body stores all the “extra” energy “for a rainy day”, which can lead not only to weight gain, but also become a risk factor for heart disease and metabolic disorders. In other words, you should not overuse the bars .

The bars are often fortified with vitamins and minerals, which, together with protein and carbohydrates, can make them a good snack, and for people with high levels of physical activity, help maintain normal muscle function . By the way, WHO reminds that healthy adults should devote at least 150 minutes a week to moderate-intensity aerobics, or at least 75 minutes a week to high-intensity aerobics, or similar physical activity of moderate to high intensity. In other words, if your physical activity is less than or slightly above these recommendations, then there will be little benefit from the bars. As with other manufactured foods, they are not a substitute for wholesome food.

With adequate nutrition, the average person is able to get all the nutrients they need . And the British health care system, and the American Heart Association strongly recommended to focus in primarily on increasing mineral products and their diversity and not to its individual components, or calories, but also point to the importance of physical activity. By Unfortunately, no bars are not in a position to replace it.

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