Raising the Bar: A High-Minded Health Bar With a Low Glycemic Index
Saul Katz is one charismatic health bar maker, a fascinating talker and visionary who makes health bars seem like the most important thing in the world. In 1989, he began his quest to create a "functional food" that would combine science, nature, and great taste in a snack bar. Not only did he want his bar to promote health, enhance performance, and prevent disease; he also dreamed of air-dropping his bars to disaster victims in need of a good self-contained meal. It's taken over a decade of intense scientific alchemy to achieve, but he's managed to do it all.
In 2004, when the big tsunami hit, Saul had just completed his first production run of 50,000 SoLo bars. Even so, he realized, "Now is the time. This is the vision I had from day one, to help people in need with these nutrient-dense, self-contained packages that we can drop on them." So he donated all 50,000 bars to the disaster victims, and he followed that with air-drops of 95,000 bars to Hurricane Katrina victims and a gift of 150,000 bars to the hungry of New York City. As far as he's concerned, it's just the beginning.
Saul's bar is called the SoLo Gi because of its stand-alone nutrition and its low glycemic index. In his SoLo bar, Saul wanted to eliminate what he calls the "spike, crash, and crave" cycle that occurs when a healthy person eats a standard snack bar's quick-acting carbs. He explains that cycle by referring back to when we lived in tribes on the African plains thousands of years ago. According to his theory, when we eat high glycemic index carbs that enter the blood stream rapidly, they cause our blood sugar to spike. When the body realizes that it's just hit the food jackpot, it releases a flood of insulin to pull the sugar out of the bloodstream and turn it into fat post-haste. That's followed by a crash as the blood sugar drops below our comfort zone, prompting us to go out and hunt for more food. In short, fast-acting carbs make the body think that not only are we starving, but also that the hunting is good. The crash is what makes us go out and take advantage of that good hunting.
The SoLo bar, on the other hand, has a low glycemic index, which means that it releases its carbs into the bloodstream slowly and deliberately. Because it is digested bit by bit as it meanders down the entire 25 feet of your small intestine, it doesn't provoke the inflammatory flood of insulin that puts so much wear and tear on your pancreas. The body is comforted by a feeling of satiety, or fullness, that lasts a long time, and it's reassured that there's no need to rush out again and hunt down the nearest snack. Because the release of glucose is so measured, the bar is good for insulin-dependent people as well.
The bars are all natural and nutritionally balanced, with healthy fats, plenty of protein, and 23 vitamins and minerals, as well as low-glycemic carbs. They also contain inulin, a pre-biotic that ferments into fodder for the good bacteria in our gut. By promoting the massive growth of this good bacteria, a SoLo bar makes you feel full longer.
Taste, however, is the critical element, because nobody wants to eat something that tastes like a prebiotic. And that's where these bars really shine. Saul says, "We developed the bars to be indulgent, so that there's no reason for people not to eat them and get the health benefit." Like a sheep in wolf's clothing, they taste as delicious as any fatty sugary candy out there. That's good news for those of us who need to control our blood sugar, and it's good news for disaster victims in need of a compact self-contained meal.
SoLo Gi® Low Glycemic bars are available at Whole Foods Market, or go to www.solo-gi.com to buy them at a discount through amazon.com.