When the Line Between Junk and Health Foods Begins to Blur

Wouldn't it be great to live in a world where chocolate bars, packets of crisps and ice cream were good for you? Well the food industry has heard your plea (or rather, realised that there's a gap in the market to exploit)  and is responding by bringing out high protein versions of junk food products. Because 'protein' is synonymous with 'healthy', right?!


It's so easy for food manufacturers to up the protein content in a product, slap 'high protein' on the label and market it as a health product, but there's so much more to the nutritional value of a product than the protein it contains - salt, sugar, sweeteners, artificial ingredients etc. are all important considerations. So just how healthy are these high protein takes on junk food?

Chocolate bars 

There's now a protein bar version of a Snickers bar. Yes, you've read that right. Snickers, the big chunky chocolate, peanuts and caramel bar now has a high protein version (you can buy these bars from Discount Supplements). It tastes great and it contains 18g of protein. 

It's also much lower in sugar than the standard bar with 9.5g vs 27g. If you're going to eat a chocolate bar anyway, then by all means, go for this version. That way you will benefit from the added protein and lower sugar content.

Crisps 

I've been sampling a few different brands of high protein crisps. The first being Protein Pops (I had a sample of these in my MusclePax subscription box) and the second being Quest Protein Chips (available from Discount Supplements). 

Quest Protein Chips
Both products taste great and unlike the Snickers bar, the brands behind both of these proteins crisps specialise in making protein products, rather than high protein versions of junk food. There's 21g of protein in the Quest chips (crisps for my UK readers!), 10g in a 30g of Protein Pops and a heck of a lot less sugar in both of these than your average protein bar. 

I'm actually pretty impressed with both of these products. They contain straight forward ingredients, delicious seasonings, much lower in sodium than mainstream crisps and they do make a very nice savoury snack for after a sweat sesh. 

Ice cream 

If you haven't heard of Whey Hey! by now, you must have been living under a rock. Protein ice cream, people! I just doesn't get better then this when it comes to wanting a high protein dessert after your chicken, rice and veggies. There's 20g of protein in a 150ml serving, only 4g of fat and less than 1g of sugar (it's sweetened with Xylitol, a natural plant-based sweetner). To compare this to regular ice cream (lets go with a chocolate soft scoop) you'd have at least 21g of sugar, 4g of protein and at least 13g of fat. I can't pick much fault with this product - aside from the price - £18 for 3x 500ml tubs, available to buy from MuscleFood.com


With any of these 'healthier junk food' type products, it's important to realise that by no means are they a substitution for whole foods and nutritionally balanced meals. Just like I argued in my breakfast cereal rant, earlier this year, I wouldn't eat them as 'health foods' and I don't think they should be marketed as such. For me, only fruit, veg, nuts, seeds, lean meats, fish and wholegrains count as health foods)

That said, they are a much better alternative to the regular snack foods and desserts on the market and I think they make it easier to change your diet around to include as much good food as possible, without feeling deprived of your favourite treat, which is a great thing. But simply stating "high protein" on the packet just isn't enough to ensure it's a healthy product - remember to check labels and compare them to the mainstream equivalent. 


1 comment

  1. I hear you on this! I love protein bars and oat flapjacks, but it's always worth remembering that they aren't a "health" product, and that nothing is going to make you lose/maintain weight unless you eat the right proportions of it!

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