The FullBar Diet Has It Half Right

fullbarThe latest diet product starring in late-night infomercials, buzzing on the Internet, and showing up in health food stores (even Walgreens) is FullBar.  If you’re not planning to have weight loss surgery any time soon, these appetite-curbing bars are the next best thing — or so claims the creator Michael A. Snyder, MD, a bariatric surgeon in Denver.  You can learn more about these products and how you can “Be Full, Live Full” by visiting the FullBar web site. Or check out a review of the FullBar Diet Plan by registered dietitian Kathleen Zelman on WebMD.

By eating these granola-type bars twice a day with an 8-ounce glass of water 30 minutes before your meals, Dr. Snyder says you can achieve the same weight-loss results without the surgery.  How convenient! He claims to have the “real secret” to losing weight:

“When you feel full, you eat less.  When you eat less, you lose weight.”

Yeah, right.  Got that.

He also promises…

“No special diet. No calorie counting. No hassles.  It’s worked for a lot of people.”

Certainly one person it didn’t work for is Roni.  I especially enjoyed her rant against FullBar.  Maybe I’m just glad not to be the only one ranting.

Sure, I can appreciate the importance of managing hunger.  And it’s true that feeling full on fewer calories is an effective weight management strategy.  That’s the foundation of one of my favorite approaches to weight control:  The Volumetrics Eating Plan by Barbara Rolls.   Dr. Rolls is one of the country’s leading authorities on satiety and her hugely popular books show people how they can choose foods that control hunger while losing weight.

I give him credit, Dr. Snyder has hit on a nutrition hot button.  Satiety does appear to be the new weapon in the war on weight — and lots of  other new products on supermarket shelves are toutingaquafull_berry_bliss_4002 their ability to control hunger, including Dannon Light & Fit Crave Yogurt, Lightfull Foods Satiety Smoothie and Aquafina Alive Satisfy.  Many of these foods and beverages are fortified with so-called functional fibers, such as maltodextrin or inulin (an extract typically from chicory root or Jerusalem artichoke).  Inulin is the key ingredient in the “liquid form” of FullBar called AquaFull. These flavored artificially-sweetened powdered drink mixes are to be added to water and consumed along with your twice-a-day FullBar before mealtime.

These products are not meant to be meal-replacements, but simply pre-meal supplements to help you eat less during your meal. Of course, you’ll need to really pay attention to your internal hunger cues during your meal and stop eating when you’re satisfied (which is easier said than done).  Otherwise, you’ll be adding up to 360 additional calories by eating two FullBars each day.

But my biggest concern is the product itself.  I think the best approach is to eat real food to curb your appetite — the techniques that Dr. Rolls suggests in Volumetrics.  Foods with a lot of “volume” and not a lot of calories include water-laden fruits and vegetables.  Other belly-filling foods include soup.  Studies that Rolls and colleagues conducted at Penn State have shown that eating a bowl of  broth-based soup before your meal helps you to eat less and reduce overall calories.  For 180 calories, I can sure think of a lot more nourishing, satisfying and appealing options than a FullBar to take the edge off your appetite.

The first two ingredients in the bars are brown rice syrup and puffed wheat cereal.  Even though the web site says “no processed sugar,” the bars are loaded with sweeteners — including high fructose corn syrup, agave nectar and honey.  Agave nectar and honey may have a “natural” halo, but there’s no significant difference between these sweeteners and high fructose corn syrup or sucrose.  Get your facts straight, Dr. Snyder, these sweeteners ARE sugar.

The bars come in five different flavors:  Cocoa Chip, Caramel Apple Crisp, Cranberry Almond, Peanut Butter Crunch and Fresh Berry Bliss. They’ll cost you $175 for a 2-month supply (although you’ll get the third month free). Those are the online costs, retail prices may be higher. Perhaps one of the comments I most objected to on the web site was how you can actually SAVE MONEY with FullBar because of all the real food you won’t need to buy.  Ugh.

Dr. Snyder is even promoting these products to kids, as you can see in this video below. He describes the “all natural” FullBar as a healthy snack for kids.  Not in my book.  Instead of a Caramel Apple Crisp bar, what about an apple?  These snacks are high in sugar and contain very few nutrients: 0 vitamin C, 0 vitamin A, 4-6% DV calcium. Since these bars aren’t intended to be meal replacements, they contain a lot fewer nutrients than other nutrition bars.

Managing hunger may be important to help stay on track if you’re trying to lose weight, but I don’t think these products are the answer.

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