In my quest to find the best protein bar on the market, today I’m breaking down FULFIL Chocolate Caramel Bar.
But first things first…
According to their website:
We [FULFIL] asked ourselves, why can’t the snacks that we love be both better for us & taste great?
Our mission is to fuel life in a wonderful way by offering nutritious snacks that make it easy and enjoyable to live and snack more healthily. After all, nowadays the dream is to have it all. We want our cake and we want it to be good for us!
So, protein bars that are delicious and nutritious. I mean the tag line of their website is literally “Vitamin & Protein Bar,” so it makes sense.
But does their delicious flavor come at a health cost?
Time to find out.
In the ever-expanding market of protein bars, Fulfil has gained attention for its widespread availability and promises of nutritional support. However, a closer examination of the ingredients reveals a concerning reality, particularly in their choice of soy and other problematic components.
That looks like a lot of mumbo jumbo. Can’t blame though because that’s how the ingredient list of almost every protein bar in the market.
If only there were a better way. (Foreshadowing)
So, let’s break these ingredients down into an easy to read list.
As might already know, the FDA requires food manufacturers to list their ingredients in order by weight.
Which means that the FULFIL Chocolate Caramel Bar is filled with more milk chocolate than protein. Not a good start for a protein bar.
The no sugar milk chocolate makes up almost a quarter of the FULFIL protein bar. But if you look closer, you’ll realize that most of that is a sugar alcohol called Maltitol. This is just downright deceptive. On one hand, they say “no added sugar” and yet the ingredient in reference is a form of sweetener.
But Fulfil isn’t the only company guilty of this type of misleading labeling of ingredients. It’s become the standard in the CPG space.
Sure, maltitol has fewer calories and a lower GI than sugar but just like sugar, it doesn’t have any nutritional value.
But maltitol has another problem: diarrhea.
According to this 2019 paper: “the excessive consumption of polyols causes gastrointestinal symptoms and laxative effects in healthy patients.”
A 2016 paper written for dentists said this about maltitol: “A study carried out with maltitol indicated that 30 g maltitol in chocolate caused no significant symptoms in young adults, while 40 g caused mild borborygmus and flatus, but no laxation. In another experiment, a 45 g dose of maltitol caused transitory osmotic diarrhea in 29 of 34 subjects (85.3%).”
So, eating a little bit of maltitol might be fine. But eating too much will definitely cause a lot of gas, and maybe diarrhea.
FULFIL doesn't mention what milk protein they’re using in their bar.
Is it whey protein or casein? Concentrate or isolate? For all we know, it might just be skim milk powder.
And, based on their choice of other ingredients, it’s probably a low quality milk source derived from some inhumane concentrated animal feedlot which certainly does more harm than good for both humans and animals.
FULFIL’s bar is made up almost 20% caramel.
But that caramel comes from… polydextrose?
Polydextrose is a polysaccharide made of randomly bonded glucose polymers. So, it’s basically a carbohydrate. And according to WebMD, it’s not digested by the body.
So, why do manufacturers use polydextrose?
Because it is a bulking agent, stabilizer, thickener, and humectant. It’s also a soluble prebiotic fiber.
But most importantly, it can be used to replace sugar, starch, or fat. Plus help in reducing calories in the food (because you can’t digest it).
At least FULFIL mentions that they’re using polydextrose as a bulking agent (which other brands don’t do).
But caramel made from a bulking agent, vegetable fat, protein, stabilizer, emulsifier and humectant doesn’t sound healthy.
Collagen: The idea is that you age, your body’s ability to make collagen decreases. And getting collagen from your diet can be difficult if you don’t eat meat or get the proper mix of amino acids from food. But that certainly doesn’t mean that you should be consuming ultra-processed seed oils and other junk to get a less-than-optimal dose of collagen.
Humectant (Glycerol): Glycerin is something you typically find in skincare. But the food industry also uses glycerin to keep packaged food moist. It’s a sugar alcohol like maltitol, so too much glycerin can cause gut problems.
Soya Crisps (Soya Protein, Starch, Salt): Soy protein might be one of the worst sources of protein in food manufacturing. Not because of the protein itself, but because it is very difficult to source high quality soy. Below are just a few of the reasons we steer clear of soy unless we know and trust the source:
NOTE: The Problem With Soy
Soluble Corn Fibre: FULFIL might have added corn fiber to make the bar structurally stronger. But I don’t believe it has any nutritional value.
Cream Powder (Milk): This is a fat source. So, I’m not exactly sure why FULFIL felt the need to separate their milk protein and their milk fat. Why not just use a single source of milk powder?
FULFIL have added vitamins to their bar. These include Vitamin E, C, B1, B2, B3, B6, B12, Folic acid and Pantothenic acid, all of which are of synthetic origin. Which means an added dose of chemically-produced “nutrients” on top of the junk ingredients.
Why this set of vitamins?
I don’t know. They don’t mention this anywhere on their website, which means they probably don’t know either. Maybe it’s to take attention away from the long list of junk in the bar.
All they say is this:
FULFIL bars contain 9 multi vitamins which can help reduce tiredness and boost your metabolism.
They’re missing a lot of essential vitamins and minerals like vitamin A, D, K2 — if that was their goal.
And we don’t know the source or quality of these vitamins — which is super important if you don’t want cheap synthetic vitamins from China.
I’d rather have a bar without any cheap vitamins, and then take a multivitamin later.
But that’s just me.
The FULFIL bar is filled with sugar alcohols like maltitol and glycerol, and has a lot of soy, which is typically a sign of a low quality product. The milk protein and collagen don’t really help much.
The 9 vitamins feel like an afterthought rather than a serious consideration.
Which is why I don’t recommend FULFIL protein bars.
But if you’re looking for a real protein bar with real ingredients, go here.
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