I’ve noticed a lot of protein bars on the market. What can you tell me about them, and how do they differ from the Lindora bars?

There are many protein bars on the market promoted as “low carbohydrate”. When choosing a product, you’ll want to evaluate its nutritional content, as well as its taste.

Recently it was found that many protein nutrition products currently available on the market don’t live up to the claims made on their labels. Most of these products contained more carbohydrate grams than their label declared. The FDA is contacting the product manufacturers and requiring them to comply with U.S. labeling laws; the ‘Nutrition Facts’ information on product labels must accurately list the total number of carbohydrates in the product. (Note: Products sold in some other countries, such as Australia and Canada, are not required to declare all carbohydrates on their label.)

Manufacturers are required by law to declare all forms of carbohydrate in the “total carbohydrate” number located in the Nutrition Facts label on the package. However, many manufacturers are advertising a reduced carbohydrate number on the package that they refer to as “net”, “effective”, “impact” and other similar names. At this time, there is no standard formulation in place for determining such a reduced number, and no regulation in place to provide guidance to consumers as to how to evaluate the claims.

For example, some product packages include a statement that glycerin (glycerol), which is a commonly used ingredient, is not metabolized as a carbohydrate and therefore do not include these carbohydrate grams in their “net”, “effective”, “impact”, etc. number. In fact, however, glycerol does participate in the pathway of carbohydrate metabolism and can elevate blood sugar levels to dangerous extents in diabetics. (The metabolism of glycerol is reported in most standard textbooks for Biochemistry; also see Martindale’s Extra Pharmacopoeia.)

In addition to the number of carbohydrates in a product, you’ll want to keep in mind that “calories count”. Even if a product claims to be low in carbohydrates, you’ll want to look at the number of total calories before deciding if it’s appropriate for your needs. Consuming too many calories, regardless of carbohydrate intake, will interfere with weight loss.

(Note: Generally speaking, during the Weight Loss portion of the Lean for Life program, we recommend using the following guidelines for protein products: a serving size should contain no more than 170 calories and 16g carbohydrate. The protein content should be at least 10g-15g.)

How can you avoid becoming the victim of inaccurate product labeling? Do the math – really, it’s easy! First you need to know that there are 4 calories in one gram of protein, 4 calories in one gram of carbohydrate, and 9 calories in one gram of fat. To calculate how many calories come from fat, protein, and carbohydrates you simply multiply the number of grams by the number of calories per gram.

Next, start with the number of calories for the product and subtract the fat and protein calories. Then divide that number by 4, and compare it to the number of carbohydrate grams listed on the label. “Beware” if your number is higher than the number of carbohydrate grams listed on the label – it’s an indication that there are more carbohydrates in the product than are declared on the label.

(Note: Lindora products are not involved in any FDA action. All Lindora protein product labels provide complete and accurate nutritional information, and glycerin is counted as a metabolized or “usable” carbohydrate. Lindora protein bars contain 10-15g protein, 16 grams or less of usable carbohydrate, and are low in total calories. The balance of protein and carbohydrate is designed to promote satiety and reduce carbohydrate-induced cravings.)