To Bar or Not To Bar?

July 29, 2010

Protein bars are confusing.

There are as many kinds of protein bars as cereal.

There are protein bars for bodybuilders. There are protein bars that are made by the same people who make Count Chocula. Are these really the same?

Doesn’t seem likely.

Is a protein bar the same as an energy bar? Does a protein bar give you energy? Does an energy bar give you protein?

How much protein does a bar have to have before it’s a protein bar?

How about a cereal bar…what’s that? Granola bar? And power bars? Or is that a brand name?

High protein low fat high energy low carb high fiber…

ACK!!!

We’re so confused.

OK, let’s take this one step at a time.

Luna LemonZestBunny is partial to Luna bars. Let’s give them a little, plug shall we? Check out their website here. They are called Whole Nutrition Bars for Women.

Bunny’s a woman. So far, so good.

Luna LemonZest has calcium, folic acid, vitamin D and iron. 9 grams of protein, 3 grams of fiber. The ingredient contains the words “soy” and “organic” in many places. This sounds good, right?

But is it?

What about all those other bars on the shelf at the supermarket? Are they better? Are they worse?

Bunny doesn’t want to eat a protein bar that’s made for a bodybuilder. What if she sprouts pecs? That’s ALL she needs.

Buff BunnyOK, let’s do some research.

Wikipedia defines Energy Bars thusly: “Energy bars are supplemental bars containing cereals and other high energy foods targeted at people that require quick energy but do not have time for a meal. They are different from energy drinks, which containe [oopsie! a typo! how embarrassing for Wikipedia] caffeine, whereas bars provide calories or joules. These bars have varying names in different locations, including cereal bar, oat bar, snack bar, granola bar and muesli bar.”

OK, got it. Now let’s see how Wikipedia defines Protein Bars:

Blank Paper

No entry.

Hmmmmm….

They’re not on the Wiki. Maybe they don’t exist?

OK, let’s try Google. A Google search shows lots of websites trying to sell various bars. We know they’re not going to be impartial.

The other top sites on the Google search are men’s bodybuilding sites. As we’ve discussed, this makes Bunny nervous. She’s pretty sure she should never eat anything that would be consumed by a bodybuilder. She and a bodybuilder are not even the same species.

So, we’re back to Luna. Bunny is actually quite partial to this line of products. LemonZest, S’Mores, and Peanut Butter Cookie all tickle Bunny’s taste buds, thank you very much.

But are they a good choice for a 50-ish overweight woman who is trying to be less so? Will they help her in her weight-loss effort? They say so, their website says so, but again, who can trust a product website? (No offense, Luna.)

We think so, and Bunny hopes so, but as is so often the case, she’s not sure.

Can anyone shed some light on this dilemma?

Bunny has had quite a stressful few days.

StressedFamily emergencies. Calls from crying relatives in the middle of the night.

Not conducive to sleep, to rational thinking, nor to healthy eating.

Also not conducive to attending a Weight Watchers meeting, so once again, we have no Project Sailaway weigh-in this week.

Things are better now, but let’s look at how Bunny (a documented emotional eater) handled this stressful situation in terms of food.

This family situation was brewing for a couple of days. The third day was hell, then the problem was resolved with a big bang that evening.

Bunny did OK the first two days. Let’s walk her through Hell Day.

She managed to have her favorite breakfast shake:

peanut butter
banana
chocolate whey powder
flaxseed
Blue Diamond unsweetened chocolate almond milk

before receiving a panicky phone call, at which point she ran out of the house, leaving behind her Trusty Cooler, which she stocks daily with her arsenal against unhealthy snacking:

carrots
yogurt
a Luna protein bar
a piece of fruit
water

When Bunny finally made it to work, it was approaching lunchtime, and she had a choice:

(a) Her regular HerbaLife protein shake made with soy milk, or
(a) Leftovers from a meeting.

Less-than-perfect choice #1–she went for the leftovers.

Even so, presented with a platter of turkey and corned beef sandwiches, she selected a turkey sandwich.

Moving down the buffet line, there was a platter of tomatoes, ranch dressing and mayonnaise. She took four tomato slices (Bunny just loves tomatoes) and a teensy dab of mayo. That’s probably what she would have done in any case.

At the end of the line, these were her options:

(a) a bowl of tired-looking fruit
(mostly melon and red grapes–not Bunny’s favorite)

(b) a bag of Lay’s potato chips.
The hard stuff. Trigger food alert!!!

(c) a bag of Baked Lay’s.

(d) a plate of rugala.
(You know, those little desserty pastry things with chocolate and nuts.)

ChipsThe correct choice would have been either (a) the tired fruit or (e) none of the above.

Less-than-perfect Choices #2 and #3: Bunny went for (b) and (d). The hard-core chips and the rugala.

Let’s be real here. On a day like this, and actually on most days, there was no way Bunny was going to walk past Lay’s potato chips. It would have been the same for crunchy Cheetos or Baskin Robbins Butter Pecan ice cream. These are classic Bunny trigger foods. It just wasn’t going to happen.

In fairness, she didn’t have a ton of either. Maybe a half-cup of chips and one little rugala.

Later that afternoon, Bunny locked eyes with a jar full of Hershey’s Kisses. Another trigger food, but this time she won the battle. She also declined politely when her boss offered her a piece of Godiva chocolate.

Great control under the circumstances. There’s hope for you yet, Bunny!!

Then, the family drama broke. Heaving a tremendous sigh of relief, Bunny and Buff toddled off to a baseball game they didn’t think they’d be able to attend until the happy news came through.

Normally, Bunny’s stadium food has been a protein bar and Diet Coke.

This time, since she was without her Trusty Cooler (yes, she could have run to the store and bought a protein bar, but she just didn’t feel like it after such a horrible day), she made less-than-perfect choices #4, #5 and #6: pepperoni pizza, white wine, and a handful or two of Buff’s popcorn.

She only ate two of the four pieces of pizza. Well, that’s something.

The next day, Bunny was back on track.

So, how do you think Bunny did?

It’s Week 4 of Project Sailway.

This is the quarter pole. The end of the first quarter.

Bunny and Trudy’s weight loss competition–their fight to the finish to see which of them can lose more weight before their trip to Hawaii–is one-fourth complete.

Time for measurements!They agreed to a weekly weigh-in and monthly measurements. The month is up, so out came the measuring tape.

Trudy has lost half an inch in her upper regions, and another half-inch in her upper arms.

Bunny is down a full inch in her waist and another inch in her hips.

Excellent! There’s less of both of them.

Bunny can clearly see it in her pants, and Trudy reports that her blouses are considerably roomier.

The contestants also reported for their weigh-ins.

As you may recall, Trudy declined to be weighed last week after attending a wedding. Well, it must have been a heck of a wedding, because Trudy gained 1.2 lbs. this week.

Bunny, on the other hand, lost 1.6 lbs. Her best result yet.

She was hoping for another 0.2 so she could reach a personal milestone (we’ll tell you more when she hits it), but 1.6 lbs. lost is a whole lot better than nothing.

So here are the standings:

Project Sailaway Scorecard:

Bunny : -1.8

Trudy :  -3.8

Trudy still leads the competition by 2 lbs.

The lead is shrinking, but only because Trudy took a step backward.

We’re a little befuddled, because we’ve been watching Bunny, and she really is being quite good about what she eats. She is having fewer shakes and protein bars than she was in the first couple of weeks (when she, depressingly, lost basically nothing). We’re still surprised (and so is she) that she’s not losing more.

But look how baggy your jeans are, Bunny!

Focus on the positive!

She was hopeful that she would lose 20 lbs. or more in this competition. Now she’s thinking maybe 15. That’s not terrible. It’s a dress size, isn’t it?

As for Trudy, we’re not sure what she’s doing, but we’d suggest she stay away from weddings for the rest of the competition.

We’ll bet Trudy’s fun at a party, though.

Trudy (Bunny’s competitor in Project Sailaway) went to a wedding over the weekend.

She ate. She drank. She made merry.

Consequently, she’s trying to wiggle out of her Week 3 weigh-in.

Suck it up, Trudy. We know what you’re doing. Bunny could write a book on making up excuses to avoid getting weighed:

I don’t feel well. I need to pet my cat. I need to return a library book. I need to wash my hair. Do laundry. Clean pool. Read mail. Write blog post. Play Sims. Update Facebook. Go to gym. Run a marathon. Invent something. Help BP clean up the oil spill. Run for president.

So you gained a little weight from wedding cake and champagne. It’ll be gone by next week.

And it’s probably not enough for Bunny to take the lead anyway. And what if she does? It only matter who’s ahead at the finish line.

It does looks to us like our girl did lose weight this week. Those jeans are getting seriously saggy.

But OK, whatever, Trudy is taking a pass this week.

But next week, it’s back on the scale, for better or for worse.

For richer or for poorer.

For fatter or for skinnier.