Natural Foods Merchandiser
Energy bars decoded: 7 terms to know

Energy bars decoded: 7 terms to know

A vocabulary lesson on how to read the ingredient label on your energy bar and what 7 common terms really mean

Brown rice syrup

A natural sweetener made by combining cooked rice with barely-derived enzymes to convert starches to sugars, brown rice syrup has a low glycemic index—25 versus 96 for glucose. As a result, its carbohydrates are released slowly into the bloodstream for long-lasting energy, rather than causing a blood-sugar spike.


Usually derived from the herb chicory, inulin is a natural polysaccharide (a type of carbohydrate) that provides soluble fiber and has prebiotic properties, providing food for healthy probiotic bacteria strains in the gut.  It adds sweetness with minimal impact on blood sugar.

Whey protein

High in amino acids, whey protein is derived from whey, the watery part of milk.  Many people with dairy allergies are able to process whey protein, which is free of caseins, the major allergens in milk.

Fractionated oil

Keeps chocolate coating from melting at room temperature and is trans-fat free.

Soy lecithin

A powerful natural emulsifier derived from soybean oil, soy lecithin keeps ingredients from separating, and is also high in choline, an essential nutrient in the B-vitamin family that is linked to heart health and brain development.

Partially hydrogenated oil

Hydrogenation allows fats to remain stable at room temperature; however, the process also results in trans fats, which can increase the risk of heart disease.

Soy protein isolate

Made from defatted soy flour that is soaked in water and acidified to separate out the whey, soy protein isolate is 90 percent protein by volume, and also adds texture to energy bars.  

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