I'm not a man who is overly concerned with his health. I smoke. I drink huge volumes of coffee and whisky. From the age of 18, when I began to depend on myself for food choices, through the present day, I've been a man who will eat what he wants, when he wants. Throughout it all, my metabolism has lept between exceptionally slow (during lean weeks when a meal a day is all that is in the cupboard) to devilishly fast (when milk and cookies and meat products abound). My body responds simply and quickly.

Of late, however, I've come to lean more and more on "energy bars," those delightfully over-priced soy-protein-nugget-packed handy meals for people "on the go." Though I'd never really paid much attention to the ingredient listings or the nutrition facts, I think I'd always known that I was getting a bunch of crap that I didn't really need. Let's take a moment to ponder the ZonePerfect strawberry-yogurt all natural nutrition bar and its nutritional facts.

Total Fat 7g        10%  Total Carb. 24g    8%
  Saturated Fat 4g  20%   Dietary Fiber 1g  4%
Cholesterol 0mg      0%   Sugars 14g
Sodium 320mg        13%  Protein 14g
Potassium 125mg      4%  

Vitamin A           50%  Vitamin C         200%  Calcium       6%
Iron                 0%  Vitamin E         210%  Thiamin      50%
Riboflavin          50%  Niacin            100%  Vitamin B6  200%
Biotin              30%  Pantothenic Acid   35%  Phosphorus   15%
Magnesium           10%  Zinc               50%  Selenium     80%
Chromium            80%  Molybdenum         65%

These are things, I am told by the the bar's wrapping, that are very, very important for humans. I am told that the bar that contains them is "great tasting," (which is quite true) and a fine and "nutritious way to eat right" for those of us who forget to bring lunch to work and shy from McDonald's. Be careful, however, as overdoses of vitamins (note the amount of Vitamin C in the bar, which accounts for twice as much Vitamin C as a doctor will tell you that you need) are more easily reached than you might think, and can cause a variety of physical ailments.

The first thing I noticed when I took a bite from this loud strawberry delight was the volume of soy protein nuggets inside. It was not unlike biting into a rice cake when you've never met a piece of puffed rice. I'll not lie and say it looked delicious--quite the opposite. The inside was tan, dirty-looking, and looked like it needed to be washed. But crunching it around in my mouth turned out to be a charming experience, as the tastes danced around my tongue delightfully.

The most important thing about the entire situation is, however, whether or not I was filled up on the bar. After swallowing the last bite, did I feel hungry? In my laboratory the results took several hours to come back, but they were encouraging: I was full and/or not hungry for nearly 3 hours.

All in all, a fine, quick lunch that, apparently, is quite good for you, though neither the label nor myself are nutritionists. Here follows the entire ingredient listing, as printed on the label:

Soy protein nuggets (isolated soy protein, rice flour, malt, salt), corn syrup, yogurt coating (dehydrated cane juice, fractionated palm kernel oil, nonfat milk powder, yogurt powder, lactic acid, soy, lecithin, vanilla), sodium caseinate, cocoa butter, fructose, natural flavor, strawberry flakes, less than 2% of the following: Oat fiber, fig paste, date paste, plum and prune bits, sunflower oil, beet juice, gellan gum, apple bits, toasted barley flakes, toasted oats, brown crisp rice, gum arabic, citric acid, guar gum, glycerine, soy lecithin, ascorbic acid, magnesium oxide, ascorbyl palmitate, d-alpha tocopheryl acetate, niacinamide, zinc oxide, fish oil, pyridoxine hydrochloride, calcium pantothenate, riboflavin, viatim a palmitate, thiamin mononitrate, chromium chloride, folic acid, sodium selenite, sodium molybdate, biotin, cyanocobalamin.

For more information, see http://www.zoneperfect.com.

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