Saturday, May 26, 2012

Whey protein bars that do NOT use soy protein

I've eaten many a protein bar and decided I'd compile some notes on the ones I've tried to hopefully save other folks some time. I'm not a big fan of soy, so I've decided to make a list of bars that don't use it as a protein source, though they may include soy lecithin as this seems almost universal. Note that this is a completely impartial review- I paid out of pocket for all the bars below(sadly).
Bar name Calories Protein(g) Fat Carbs Sugar Fiber Sweeteners
Power Crunch Peanut Butter 200 13 12 10 5 1 sugar,fructose,stevia leaf extract
Betty Lou's Peanut Butter Balls 190 15 8 18 9 3 organic agave syrup
Active Greens Organic Food Bar 310 12 15 35 24 7 organic evaporated cane juice, organic agave nectar
Greens Plus Natural Peanut Butter 240 20 11 20 17 2 organic agave nectar
Fucoprotein chocolate/macadamia nuts 210 14 5 28 11 7 organic honey, organic cane sugar
QuestBar Cinnamon Roll 170 20 6 24 1 17 erythritol,lo han guo,stevia
Raw Organic Coconut Chocolate Bar 230 5 11 27 19 5 organic agave nectar, organic evaporated cane juice
Raw Organic Fiber Chocolate Delite 200 3 6 33 18 14 organic agave nectar, organic evaporated cane juice
100% Whey Protein Crisp Bar 250 26 2.5 34 7 1 sugar,sucralose,brown rice syrup,maltitol,honey, molasses
VPX Zero Impact Pumpkin Supreme 415 30 17 35 11 7 corn syrup, honey, erythritol,brown rice syrup
Ultimate Flurry Double Peanut Butter 350 32 11 38 6 4 maltitol,dextrose, corn syrup,sugar

Additional Notes

Power Crunch Peanut Butter

Power Crunch bars are my favorite in terms of taste. They have a unique, light wafer-cookie-like consistency that is unlike any other protein bar I've had. Nutrition wise they are actually pretty clean, only a small amount of sugar, no questionable ingredients. You can also find them pretty cheap at Trader Joes. Other flavors exist besides chocolate peanut butter: triple chocolate, french vanilla, cookies and cream, mixed berry. I like pretty much all the flavors, but Trader Joes only carries the chocolate peanut butter and french vanilla.

Active Greens Organic Food Bar

These actually use brown rice protein rather than whey, but I figured I would include them since they don't use soy at all (no protein isolate or lecithin) and they taste really good (in my opinion). The downsides to this bar are the price and the high sugar content. Bio-availability of rice protein is lower than whey, so that's also something to consider.

Betty Lou's Peanut Butter Balls

Betty Lou's is very clean and pretty cheap (especially if you can find them on sale). No corn or soy at all, not even soy lecithin- it uses sunflower lecithin instead.

Greens Plus Natural Peanut Butter

The flavor on these is so so, but the ingredient list seems to include every possible superfood you can think of. Price is pretty high unless you find a sale.

Fucoprotein chocolate/macadamia nuts

Flavor is pretty good, very clean ingredients list, has a lot of fiber. I was able to get them on a buy one/get one half off deal for an OK price. These bars do not contain soy lecithin, but carry the warning that they might contain trace amounts of soy due to manufacture in a facility that also handles soy. These actually use a mix of milk protein, whey protein concentrate, and brown rice protein concentrate. Evidence supporting the benefits of fucoxanthin seems quite scant, but I can't really find any faults with this bar other than the retail price.

QuestBar Cinnamon Roll

Clean ingredient list for this particular flavor. Other flavors seems to use Splenda(sucralose) which some people may not like. Does not contain soy lecithin.

Raw Organic Coconut Chocolate Bar

Barely qualifies as a protein bar at only 5g, but pretty tasty as a snack, and I got these on sale for around 80 cents, so I can't complain.

Raw Organic Fiber Chocolate Delite

Lot of fiber as the name suggests and the flavor is decent. Clean ingredient list.

100% Whey Protein Crisp Bar

The whey crisp bars don't use soy protein isolate but they do contain soybean oil and soy lecithin as well as sucralose.

VPX Zero Impact Pumpkin Supreme

These things are huge and filling (as you'd expect for something >400 Calories). Contain potassium sorbate as a preservative. They use low Dextrose Equivalent (DE) corn syrup as a sweetener. I'm not clear if this is just a fancy name for maltodextrin and if so whether that really buys you anything in terms of reduced insulin response. Taste is decent.

Ultimate Flurry Double Peanut Butter

Flurry bars contain soybean oil and multiple artificial colors and flavors. Tastes vaguely like a snickers bar, but way too sweet for my taste.

Calorie counting and weight tracking software for linux , osx , and windows

I mentioned in an earlier post that I use fatsecret's calorie counter app and the withings wireless scale. I've finally gotten around to writing some python code to access the APIs for fatsecret and withings and combine them into one convenient time series display. Those of you that are more technically inclined might want to check out the details here: The quick summary is that the code I describe at the link will let you generate nice plots of protein,fat,carb intake per day as well as calories and compare this to your weight as it evolves. Here, for example, is a quick graph of just the fatsecret food data for the past month or so. The reason why the calorie and carb numbers cycle up dramatically 3 times is because I greatly increase intake on the weekends because I usually surf for several hours in the morning and then work out again in the afternoon/evening. I'm more concerned about surfing performance than trying to create a caloric deficit, so I carb-load beforehand.

I'll try to make sure any future improvements to the code are added to the link above. If you have any questions about the code please post them in the comments at the link above.

Body recomposition progress so far

So I wound up taking a break for a while from the idea of calorie counting for a number of reasons, but I started back up seriously in april, and I've been doing it diligently everyday since. I think it's slowly paying off. Weight has dropped a little bit though more slowly than I'd like. I'm hoping once I start running again the weight loss should improve since I think the impact on appetite should be negligible and I should be able to maintain the same intake, thus increasing my daily deficit. Here's a quick before and after comparison from early april till now.

Monday, October 31, 2011

The importance of keeping busy

Over the course of this dieting experiment, I've discovered that my eating patterns are highly dependent on how busy I am. This is even more true on my fasting days. Keeping busy is critical to avoid eating distractedly. I'm trying to get better at letting hunger dictate my eating rather eating just because it's something to do. As a little self training experiment, I'm going to try to eating high fiber/low calorie foods whenever I find myself eating for no reason. Switching to carrots and spinach at times like these should have minimal impact on my daily caloric budget while achieving satiety enough that it would take a conscious effort to keep eating.

My current challenge is figuring out a way to increase my average caloric deficit without killing my athletic performance. The traditional leangains approach is targeted towards people who probably lift weights as their only form of physical activity and as the diet name implies, want to gain lean mass. In that context I think the 16/8 hour eating schedule could probably work every day of the week. In my current situation, where certain days involve working out in the morning and again at night( which often represents > 4 hours of cardio) I think limiting the 16 hour fasts to three days a week seems more feasible.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

first day of calorie counting

I've actually already been intermittently fasting for the last 4 weeks without closely monitoring caloric intake. The outcome of this little experiment is that I've found intermittent fasting(IF) quite tolerable but my weight has remained pretty much unchanged. This suggests that, assuming equal caloric intake, IF in and of itself does not cause weight loss. The next step in my little experiment will be to carefully count calories on both fasting and non-fasting days and attempt to limit total intake on the fasting days to well below 2000 calories. Today is a fasting day, so I abstained from easting till 4:00pm and then consumed 990 calories. The plan is to workout in a couple hours then finish the day with approximately 600 additional calories bringing my total to 1590 for today.

Fat secret has greatly simplified the calorie counting with its ability to scan barcodes and recall recently eaten foods. If your daily diet doesn't vary much, recording the days food is fairly quick.

No more excuses

I've decided to take a more quantitative approach to dieting and hope to document here whatever progress I make and how I go about it. My plan right now is to follow a slightly tailored version of intermittent fasting similar to that advocated by leangains, supplemented with careful data gathering using a withings wifi scale and the fatsecret calorie counting android app. Diligence about logging my caloric intake and weight should hopefully keep me honest and eliminate any room to make excuses.

My starting point is 147.8 lbs at 5'3". My goal is to get close to 130 lbs, or more subjectively- whatever weight I feel strongest at. I enjoy climbing, gymnastics, and parkour, all of which are very sensitive to absolute weight, so I'll be aiming to lose weight even if it means losing a fair bit of muscle.

In the interest of gathering as much data as possible, I may also take a daily picture to serve as a more qualitative evaluation of where I stand.