Powerbar is a high end brand owned by Nestle Nutrition and sold mostly in sports shops. It positions itself as an athlete’s friend. What started as bars has expanded to gels, protein supplements, and now “Energy Bites”.
From PowerBar, here are Energy Bites’ key features:
- Provide More Energy to Muscles with C2MAX
- Personalized sports nutrition
- Packed in a convenient resealable pouch
- No preservatives or artificial flavors
The top right corner of the package promises “11 grams PROTEIN per pouch”.
Sounds promising. Indeed?
We took a look inside the label…
What you need to know:
A resealable pouch comes with 8 energy bites, divided into 2 servings, although you can easily down the whole thing in less than one minute. A serving has 150 calories, 3 grams of fat and 5 grams of protein.
Wait a minute, 5 grams of protein? The front of package promised us 11 grams. How can this be? Welcome to the tricky double standards of food companies. The 11 grams are for an entire pouch, which includes 2 servings!
But 2 servings are 300 calories!
The 16 grams of sugar equate to 4 teaspoons. For half a bag.A whole bag would be 8 teaspoons of sugar.
Sodium is 125mg or about 5% of the daily value.
Here is the ingredient list for the Chocolate Flavor version:
C2 MAX ENERGY BLEND (EVAPORATED CANE JUICE INVERT SYRUP, MALTODEXTRIN, SUGAR, FRUCTOSE), ALKALIZED COCOA, WHEAT FLOUR, OATS, MILK PROTEIN ISOLATE, SOY PROTEIN ISOLATE, COCOA BUTTER, CRANBERRIES, CHOCOLATE, 2% OR LESS OF NONFAT MILK, WHEY PROTEIN CONCENTRATE, HIGH OLEIC CANOLA OIL, VEGETABLE GLYCERIN, SOY LECITHIN, PGPR — AN EMULSIFIER, NATURAL FLAVORS, SALT. CONTAINS MILK, SOY AND WHEAT INGREDIENTS. MADE ON EQUIPMENT THAT ALSO PROCESSES EGG, NUTS AND PEANUTS.
The first ingredient, scientific sounding “C2 Max Energy Blend” is a fancy way to say that the main ingredient in this product is a mix of 4 sugars – cane juice, table sugar, fructose, and maltodextrin. Big deal.
Alkalized Cocoa is is mellower in flavor and darker in color compared to regular cacao. Unfortunately the alkalizing process removes many of the antioxidants that chocolate provides.
The various protein sources (whey protein, milk protein isolate, soy protein isolate) are very popular with bodybuilders as low calorie protein sources.
High Oleic Canola Oil has longer shelf life than regular canola oil (which manufacturers prefer). It achieves this through a higher percentage of oleic acid (a monounsaturated fat) and a lower percentage of polyunsaturated fat (alpha-linolenic acid and linoleic acid). Nutritionally there is no difference compared to regular canola as both “poly” and “mono” are unsaturated fats.
Vegetable Glycerin – is a sweetener (0.6 times as sweet as table sugar) that is not metabolized the same way as sugar (does not raise blood sugar levels)
PGPR (Polyglycerol Polyricinoleate) – is an emulsifier and a cheap replacement to cocoa butter. It is used in fractions of a percent and has a side benefit of reducing the fat content of chocolate products. PGPR is made from castor beans.
Natural flavors – a commercial secret guarded by companies – is a blend of flavorings used to enhance the product’s taste.
Conclusion – while nothing in this product is dangerous or inherently bad for you, this is an overly processed collation of very cheap ingredients sold at a high price point by branding itself as an optimal energy / protein solution for athletes. Not really.
What to do at the supermarket:
Save your money and buy lowfat milk and bananas instead. One medium banana is 105 calories, 14 grams of sugar and 1 gram of protein. A cup of 2% milk is 122 calories, 12 grams of lactose (sugar) and 8 grams of protein. Together, these 2 simple products give you a better, more nutritious, and cheaper solution. See table:
|Banana + Milk||Energy Bites Pouch|
|Saturated Fat||3 grams||3 grams|
|Sugar||7.5 tsp||8 tsp|
|Fiber||3 grams||2 grams|
|Protein||9 grams||11 grams|
|Hundreds of additional nutrients||Yes||No|