Product Review: Soyjoy Nutrition Bars

soyjoy_logo.gifSoyjoy asked me to try their new flavors and share my thoughts with BHN readers. I received a package of eight bars, which included the four original flavors (apple walnut, berry, mango coconut, raisin almond) and the two bars each of the two new flavors (strawberry and peanut chocolate chip). I didn’t get any coupons to send free samples, but if you e-mail me I will give you the number for the PR agency and I am sure the person there can help you out.

I decided to do something different with my product review this time. Since there were so many flavors, I took the bars to the nutrition department at Inova Fairfax Hospital (this is where I am completing my clinical rotations – check it out, it’s a huge hospital).

The dietitians were happy to test out the new flavors for me. Overall, the reviews were positive, but there were some differences in opinion. And we all know what they say about opinions anyway…

Let’s start with the positive.

Food Allergies

The one thing the RDs could all agree on was their appeal to people with certain food allergies or people who are looking for “all natural, no this-and-that”. These bars are gluten-free so if you have celiac’s disease or a wheat allergy, this is your bar. You’ll have to read the label about other food allergies. Some bars did contain milk so if you have a milk allergy you might try a small piece. There is probably so little milk that you’d tolerate it well. As any good person with an allergy, read the label and decide for yourself.

Ingredients

Where’s all my health nuts? I know you’re reading… these bars are free of trans fats and hydrogenated oils, contain no artificial colors, flavors, or sweeteners, no chemical additives, and no GMO soy. If that’s music to your ears, you might want to give this bar a whirl. You might be wondering, what do these bars have? How about 8g of whole soy, 4g protein and only 130-140 calories. Oh, not to mention real apples, real berries, real nuts! What a novel idea. Convenience food that has real food in it.

That qualifies this bar as a good idea for a convenient snack. Think of all the places where you might get “stuck” without food and a hankerin’ for a little something… car, desk at work, gym bag and sneak a little bar in there. Think of it as a security blanket because one thing you want to avoid is being busy, hungry and sans food. A very mean, cranky monster comes out and it is not pretty.

Taste

In all honesty, this info is about as useful as an expired coupon if the bar doesn’t taste good. So, how do the bars measure up? Well, it truly depends on your personal taste preferences. I’ll tell you about some of the feedback I got. Nearly all testers noticed the bar was dry. One person liked this quality. She said that most of the granola bars are too chewy and sugary and she liked that this one was dense and had substance. The others thought that the flavors helped with the dryness, but overall, it was different than most of the bars they’ve tried.

Apple and berry were the two standout faves. The apple had an authentic, mild taste and the berry had a taste that “popped” in your mouth. The RD said “this looks and tastes exactly like what it says on the package, which is not always the case with convenience snack”. I personally wanted to try the mango coconut flavor, but unfortunately someone else snagged the bar.

Overall

I think the RD testers were impressed with the nutritional components and the taste was a personal preference. If you are trying them for the first time, go for apple or berry since they seemed to be the faves.

One thing someone pointed out which I agree with 100% is a criticism of the marketing material they provided with the bars. While I commend Soyjoy for having an accomplished dietitian on staff (really, they do… and you can e-mail her your questions here), the q&a document should be updated.

It says “how many Soyjoy bars can I eat in a day?” and they recommend two to three as snacks or part of a meal. I think this suggestion does more harm to the product’s reputation than good, especially in the eyes of RDs and health-savvy consumers (likely target customer).

Why? Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should. They keys to having an overall healthy diet is variety, balance and moderation — and two to three snack bars a day seems excessive. If you had three bars a day you’d get more than 400 calories from these bars. That’s roughly 25-35% of all your calories in a day in a bar (depending on how many calories you take in). I think having a bar in the afternoon before a workout and then later a snack of apple or banana with peanut butter, or greek yogurt with some nuts and dried fruit is a much more realistic approach than having 3 bars a day. I think RDs and health-conscious consumers know that and can see the real marketing behind the recommendation. Get creative and suggest a Soyjoy bar as a snack and then 1/2 bar crumbled in a yogurt. But don’t suggest 3 bars a day. That’s just mu humble and honest opinion. And we all know what they say about opinions…

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5 thoughts on “Product Review: Soyjoy Nutrition Bars

  1. Pingback: Food Companies Reaching Out to Food Bloggers « Balanced Health and Nutrition Rebecca Scritchfield’s Blog

  2. 400 calories is 25% to 35% of someone’s daily calorie level? That’s only 1,150 to 1,600 calories a day – semi-starvation levels! What about people not trying to lose weight – wouldn’t 2,000 to 2,400 calories be more appropriate?

  3. psipsina,

    You just reminded me why I don’t like (and try to avoid) throwing out nutrition numbers on the blog… because everyone is different and everyone’s goals are different too…

    Daily calorie intake depends on age, gender, height (factors you really can’t contol), activity level, weight loss/gain goals, and even if you have an amputation.

    So you are 100% on the nose, that the percentages don’t fly if you are trying to get more calories.

    But 1200-1600 calories per day is by no means “semi-starvation”. For example, a 30-year-old female who is 5 foot 3 and weighs 145 pounds and rarely exercises only needs about 1800 calories to maintain weight. To lose about a pound a week would give her a daily calorie defecit of 500 calories (3500 calories in a pound) so the 1800 becomes 1300 calories.

    Now, I always strongly encourage people to get more activity, say 30-60 minutes a day and cut about 200 calories a day to make a calorie defecit. Doesn’t cutting 200 calories a day sound more manageable than 500?

    Ahh… I digress…

    I still maintain, however, that 2-3 Soyjoy bars a day as a recommendation is not the way to go because of the lack of variety. It’s one thing if you think “I love these bars how many can I squeeze into my diet each day”… go ahead… be my guest… But you don’t need to include 2-3 per day as part of a healthy diet, which was the message I got from the marketing materials.

    Just my 2 cents.

    And if you are still reading… here’s a great calculator to determine energy needs:

    http://www.bcm.edu/cnrc/caloriesneed.htm

  4. I too was a bit surprised by your 25 – 25% estimate, after all, according to the calorie counter you linked to in your comment, your 30 year old female who rarely exercises is only very slightly overweight actually needs 1924 calories a day to maintain weight. As she also only needs to loose about 3.5 pounds to get her BMI to 25, it could be argued that a lb a week is unnecessarily strict and making a very tiny change to her diet (say, down to 1800 calories) and spreading the loss over a much greater period would be better.

    Then there’s the fact that 5 foot 3 is shorter than average.

    All in all, your numbers can be made to add up, but only for a rather extreme case.

    It may seem a minor thing to get het up about, but misleading advice like this contributes to body dismorphia and eating disorders in young girls. Best to avoid giving numbers altogether if you can’t be accurate.

  5. Ellie — I agree with you about not using numbers with people. I used numbers in this blog post to help make a point about having 3 bars a day. The better argument is that it lacks variety. Period.

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