Slim Fast Optima Bars

Slim Fast Optima Bars

Slim Fast is a well-known brand of functional food products designed for weight loss.  The line has expanded from the original, ready-to-drink shakes into meal bars, snacks and powders.  The “Optima” products feature lower carbs and sugar than the “Original” Slim Fast products. 

Slim Fast Optima Bars come in 10 flavors: Milk Chocolate Peanut, Chocolate Cookie Dough, Caramel Crispy Peanut, Oatmeal Raisin, Rich Chocolate Brownie, Strawberry Cheesecake, Blueberry Crisp, Chewy Granola Trail Mix, Chewy Granola Peanut Butter and Chewy Granola Chocolate Chip.

Manufacturer’s Description: 25% Less Sugar (This meal bar contains 16g of sugar. Our Oatmeal Raisin meal bar contains 22g of sugar) than our Oatmeal Raisin meal bar. 220 Calories. Great taste. 22 Vitamins & minerals. 30% of Daily Calcium. Naturally & artificial flavored. Slim-Fast Optima Meal Bars, when used as part of the Slim-Fast Plan, help you control the amount of calories you eat, and provide you with the balanced nutrition you need throughout the day.

Product Label:

Serving Size 1 Bar (56g)
Calories 220
Fat Cal 45
Total Fat 5g’
Saturated Fat 3g
Trans Fat 0g
Cholesterol < 5mg
Sodium 75mg
Potassium 150mg
Total Carbohydrate 35g
Dietary Fiber 1g
Sugars 17g
Sugar Alcohol 11g
Protein 8g
Vitamin A 35%
Calcium 30%
Vitamin D 35%
Vitamin K 25%
Riboflavin 35%
Vitamin B6 35%
Vitamin B12 35%
Pantothenic Acid 35%
Iodine 35%
Zinc 15%
Chromium 30%
Vitamin C 35%
Iron 15%
Vitamin E 35%
Thiamin 15%
Niacin 35%
Folate 15%
Biotin 35%
Phosphorus 25%
Magnesium 35%
Selenium 25%
Molybdenum 35%
Ingredients: Maltitol Syrup, Raisins, Yogurt Flavored Coating [Sugar, Partially Hydrogenated Palm Kernel Oil, Nonfat Milk, Nonfat Yogurt Powder (Cultured Whey, Nonfat Milk), Soy Lecithin, Caramel Color, Natural Flavor], Rolled Oats, Calcium Caseinate, Graham Cookie Pieces [Wheat Flour, Sugar, Graham Flour, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean and/or Cottonseed Oil, Salt, Sodium Bicarbonate (leavening agent)], Soy Protein Isolate, High Maltose Corn Syrup, Milk Protein Isolate, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Soybean Oil, Lemon Juice from Concentrate, Cinnamon, Artificial Flavor, Cellulose Gel, Maltodextrin, Honey, Guar Gum and Soy Lecithin

Comments: The Optima bars are sold open stock at my local Fred Meyer, so I picked up a couple of samples: the Oatmeal Raisin (above) and the Caramel Crispy Peanut. They’re roughly the size of a standard candy bar, and are designed with that taste/texture in mind. The Oatmeal Raisin bar had a white, “yogurt” coating surrounding a chewy, slightly crunchy base, while the Caramel Crispy Peanut was chocolate-coated, with a gooey caramel layer.

Both bars had pretty good flavors, but were unbearably sweeeeeeet…I’ve eaten straight-up candy that wasn’t this cloying. But this is a problem with the whole “Slim Fast” diet concept: the R & D folks at Unilever (the manufacturer) evidently believe that people can’t deal with a program that doesn’t provide ample amounts of sugar. For example, the sample diet I got from the Slim Fast website featured the Optima shakes for meals, along with three fruit snacks. Sure, fruit’s good for you, but it’s also sweet. Following this plan as written would mean consuming the majority of my daily carbs as simple sugars. Anyone who’s addicted to sweets would have a hell of a time with this: constantly feeding a “sweet tooth” is no way to go about breaking the habit.

The label claims that a bar “controls hunger for up to 4 hours.” To test this, I substituted a whole Oatmeal Raisin bar for my usual mid-morning snack. It was kinda-sorta satisfying…I would have liked more food, as I didn’t feel like I’d eaten a meal, but I wasn’t actually feeling hunger pangs, either – so I just had a cup of (unsweetened) tea, and let it go.

I was ready to eat again in 2 hours. This isn’t even close to the promised 4 h, but I expect this is why Unilever inserted the words “up to” on the product label. Nothing like a loophole…

I suppose Optima bars aren’t too different from a lot of other protein bars, except for the fact that they really don’t provide much protein…so I don’t really see a lot of use for these, except as an occasional, “value-added candy fix” for a sugar craving. Like Paul, I’m no fan of the Slim Fast plan, so I wouldn’t encourage regular use of these products for weight loss.

Taste:3.5 out of 5 stars (3.5 / 5)
Quality:2.5 out of 5 stars (2.5 / 5)
Efficacy:2.5 out of 5 stars (2.5 / 5)
Value:3.5 out of 5 stars (3.5 / 5)
Average:3 out of 5 stars (3.0 / 5)

Author: elissa

Elissa is a former research associate with the University of California at Davis, and the author/co-author of over a dozen articles published in scientific journals. Currently a freelance writer and researcher, Elissa brings her multidisciplinary education and training to her writing on nutrition and supplements.

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