I make no secret of the fact that I strongly dislike sugar. In fact, I think a large proportion of the modern Western obesity epidemic is attributable to nothing else but sugar, be it in the guise of table sugar (sucrose), glucose, fructose (other than found in actual raw fruit), or refined starches (from maize starch thickeners to white rice and bread). I think overconsumption of refined carbohydrates is unhealthy, and recommend against it.
That does not, however, mean that I am Atkins-product mad. I own a copy of “New Diet Revolution” by the late Dr. Atkins, and it is, in all respects, a book of very sensible advice (which, by the way, mentions that no one should try the diet without consulting a physician – something which appears to have been lost in all the Atkins™ franchise since the good doctor’s passing). To be honest, neither am I a fan of bar-and-shake solutions to weight loss, for a number of reasons (another time about this), but the point here is that I am neither a fan, nor a hater of the current incarnation of the Atkins empire (although I am most certainly a fan of the late doctor himself).
The bar I ended up trying was Atkins™ Advantage Chocolate Decadence 60g bar. I thought that if I try and like the bar (which does state it effectively has less than 2g of sugars and no refined starches), it may become a very convenient meal when taking flights or long train trips, and would be certainly better than most travel-food alternatives. I love chocolate (idea which in no way conflicts with my dislike for sugar), and I honestly really wanted to like it.
Sadly, I have to give the bar about 6/10.
The negative sides of it were the eating quality and nutrient profile.
- In terms of eating quality, it was chewy and heavy, and did not go down well at all without copious amount of hot coffee to wash it down, and while it did taste quite decently (for something virtually carb-free) of chocolate, it was, in my opinion (and even compared to real chocolate) just a touch too sickeningly sweet.
- In terms of nutrient profile, what bothers me is the fact that while the bar concept is focused on it being very low carbohydrate, I find that, in addition to not tasting that great, it is not nutrient-dense enough for its caloric content for my liking. What I mean is that at a hefty 232 kCal per 60g bar, it has no vitamin or mineral content declared anywhere on it, nor can I find any enrichment in the ingredient list. So, unless someone corrects me, I can say that in terms of its nutritional contribution beyond protein, some fat, and fibre, it is more or less nil.
That is not to say that everything you (generic you, in this case referring to myself) eat, must be pumped full of mineral or vitamin supplementation. Far from it! My opinion is that while a generic multivitamin pill a day is a Good Thing™, more is generally not necessary except under specific circumstances. But, I prefer to eat fresh food which usually has a high nutrient-to-calorie ratio, and if I do eat something which does not, then by the little green apples, it better be a foodgasmically knock-your-socks-off amazing thing to eat (Brew‘s “Best Lemon Cake Ever” comes to mind here, in all of it calorifically mountainous magnificence). To sum it up, the Chocolate Decadence is just not decadent enough – it is neither feel-good-about-eating-it healthy, nor does it make me salivate thiking about it.
The bar is not without its advantages, however. I am a harsh judge of things that go into my mouth (interpret that as you like, but it applies to all of them, really), and it does deserve the 6/10 mark I gave it. Why? Well, first of all, it is convenient travel food, it is filling, and while not cheap (at £2/bar), it is not likely to cause you stomach upset, and it is far better than not eating (which can result in a headache, irritability, and, using common sense, is more detrimental to health than eating). Having the Atkins chocolate bar in your handbag is still a great way to avoid hitting the pastry case at the train station/airport cafe when you order your tea or latte. Just buy your hot drink, pop the bar out and feel good about not having overdosed on sugar for a questionable trade-off in taste.
In conclusion – I will not make the Atkins™ Advantage Chocolate Decadence part of my weekly shopping. I will not consider this a part of my eating habit, nor a treat. However, I will buy this or its sister products in range (if there are any with similar profile? I have not seen any in the UK.) before travelling and carry it with me. It’s practical.