The Deal with Clif Bars

Reader Megan writes:
What are your thoughts on Clif bars? They are made with 70% organic ingredients and contain a lot of vitamins, minerals and proteins but they also have a lot of sugar. Is eating a Clif bar as bad as eating any other processed food? Would they even be considered a processed food? Would you recommend them for a quick meal replacement on the go? Thanks for your thoughts on the subject.

Here’s the deal with Clif bars: They’re not the worst thing you could eat, but they’re definitely not the best thing, either. The ingredients in a Clif bar are:

Organic Brown Rice Syrup, ClifPro® (Soy Rice Crisp [Soy Protein Isolate, Rice Flour, Barley Malt Extract, Calcium Carbonate], Organic Roasted Soybeans, Organic Soy Flour), Organic Rolled Oats, Dried Apricots (Apricots, Evaporated Cane Juice, Rice Flour, Citric Acid, Ascorbic Acid), Organic Evaporated Cane Juice, ClifCrunch® (Organic Oat Fiber, Inulin [Chicory Extract], Organic Milled Flaxseed, Organic Oat Bran, Psyllium), Organic Dried Apples, Organic Date Paste, Organic Sunflower Oil, Natural Flavors, Citric Acid, Salt, Colored With Annatto.

Notice the first ingredient is brown rice syrup, which is actually a sweetener. You also see synthetic fiber (inulin), lots of soy products, and other sweeteners (cane juice). So it’s a lot of… stuff. Not necessarily all bad, but nothing to get excited about. And yes, I would definitely consider it “processed.”

Think of processed food as anything you have to do a lot to in order to get it to look how it does.

For a quick meal replacement on the go, I’d choose a Larabar (or just a homemade trail mix of dried fruit + nuts) and maybe a hard-boiled egg or organic jerky for extra protein. No need to get all those ® ingredients with your snack bar!

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