The Myth You Should Stop Believing About Special K Meal Bars

The entire Kellogg's Special K brand has gained a reputation as healthy and diet-friendly, with CBS once calling the Special K brand no longer just a line of cereals, but "a diet food empire." While the iconic Special K cereal came out in 1955 as a healthy breakfast alternative, the brand now includes hot cereals, shakes, cracker chips, frozen breakfast sandwiches, popcorn chips, and, of course, the Special K meal bars, which came out in 2006.

Special K meal bars are currently labeled with "PROTEIN" printed in large right across the box, which further implies that these bars are better for you than another quick lunch option. Plus, there are so many flavors to choose from, all that seem pretty tasty, including blueberry, chocolate peanut butter, chocolate caramel, and strawberry.

But Special K meal bars aren't what they seem, and they aren't as healthy as you might at first assume. Though low in calories, these bars are high in added sugar, extra fat, and suspicious ingredients — three things you want to stay away from if you're watching your waistline.

The ugly truth about Special K meal bars

While a Kellogg's Special K strawberry protein meal bar comes with only 180 calories — not bad for what Kellogg's brands a meal replacement — it's loaded with other stuff that you might not want.

The bars contain 4 grams of saturated fat (20 percent your daily recommended value) and 14 grams of added sugar (or nearly 30 percent of your daily recommended value). The very first ingredient is soy protein isolate, which is just a fancy name for chemically-engineered soybeans that are often treated in toxic substances like aluminum and hexane. According to nutritionists at Well+Good, soy protein isolate should be avoided, as it's highly modified, processed, and filled with pesticides. However, this doesn't stop a lot of food manufacturers from using soy protein isolate as a form of protein in everything from veggie burgers to, well, Special K meal bars.

Reading further down the meal bars' ingredients list and you'll find that the next two ingredients are sugar and corn syrup. And those strawberries? Not even real. They're strawberry-flavored cranberries.

In other words, you may want to think twice before turning to Special K meal bars when you're looking for a diet-friendly, quick lunch. Maybe just go with a good old-fashioned vegetable instead?