Protein bars are a great alternative to unhealthy snacks. Tasty and filling, they can help ward off cravings and make sticking to your healthy eating plan much easier. However, lots of people are confused about protein bars and don’t know the difference between protein bars and other similar-looking products. I know I was!
So, in this article, I want to provide you with SEVEN useful facts about protein bars so you know exactly what they are and why you should eat them.
1. Protein bars are not candy bars
Although they taste sweet, come in brightly colored packages, and are often found in the candy aisle in the supermarket, protein bars are not candy bars. In fact, while you can eat them in place of candy, really, they are ANTI-CANDY!
Candy bars often contain nothing other than sugar and fat. Protein bars contain very little fat and sugar but do contain healthy carbs, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and of course protein. They might look similar but, nutritionally, they are not the same.
2. Protein bars are not energy bars
Energy bars contain mostly carbohydrates – often in the form of sugar. They give you quick-fix energy but can leave you feeling tired and hungry soon after.
Protein bars contain relatively low amounts of carbs – the nutritional emphasis being on protein. Some are even sugar-free and very low in carbs.
Protein bars don’t give you energy like energy bars are designed to do; they are two very different types of product. Don’t mistake energy bars for protein bars; they look similar but are very different.
3. There are two types of protein bars
There are two main types of protein bar – those designed to be healthy snacks and those designed to be eaten after exercise. While similar, the snack-type protein bars tend to be lower in calories and the after exercise bars tend to contain more carbohydrates and more calories generally.
Always read the labels on your protein bars to make sure you are eating the right one at the right time.
4. Not all protein bars are good
Some protein bars are very high in quality – you can read my top three recommendations here. While these are very good choices, some bars are nowhere near as good.
Some bars contain very little protein, or the protein is low quality. Some contain too much carbohydrate, use sugar or sugar alcohols, or contain too many calories. Some contain soya and trans fats – two unhealthy ingredients best avoided.
A good protein bar is a very healthy, useful snack but a bad protein bar is no better than a candy bar. Make sure you know the difference!
5. You can make your own protein bars
Store-bought protein bars are very convenient and tasty. Just go to the store and buy what you need. However, they can be expensive and some people do not like the taste. In truth, it might take you a while to find a bar that you really like.
I’ve tried lots of different bars and now know that there are only three bars I really enjoy eating.
You can save money and create a bar that you like the taste of by making your own protein bars. Many require no baking and they often work out much cheaper than store-bought bars.
Here are several recipes for making your own homemade protein bars.
6. Protein bars can help you lose weight
The biggest barrier that most people have to losing weight is being unable to stick to their diet. Hunger and cravings often mean they end up eating unhealthy snacks that derail their weight loss efforts.
Protein bars make a great snack when you are dieting because they are:
- Low in calories
- Filling and satisfying
- Much better than candy, cookies, and other snacks
You can also use a protein bar as a meal replacement. (Protein Bar Vs Meal Replacement Shakes, the article here)
Use protein bars to help you stick to your healthy diet plan and you will lose weight faster and easier.
7. Protein bars can help you gain muscle
After exercise, your muscles are crying out for protein, carbohydrates, and calories. Exercise takes these things out of your muscles and the sooner you can put them back in, the sooner they will be able to recover and start to grow and get stronger.
It’s not always convenient to eat a proper meal straight after exercise but you could probably eat a protein bar quickly and easily.
Keep a protein bar in your gym bag and eat it as soon as your workout is finished. Choose a bar that contains both protein and carbohydrate for best results. A good post-workout protein bar should contain between 200-300 calories.
On my top 3 recommended protein bars there’s one bar that’s perfect for after workout, have a look here.
Protein bars are a very useful snack and alternative to eating less healthy foods. Convenient, filling, and nutritious, they mean you never needn’t have to think about eating candy, cookies, or cake again! Enjoy a protein bar anytime you want a snack that will help and not hinder your healthy diet. Store bought or homemade – protein bars are great!
Thanks for the advise, I only recently discovered protein bars, had no idea they even existed !
I’ve been on a fasting diet (not really a diet ) 8/16 and have just started using them as part of my first meal of the day (2pm to 10 pm is my eating window).
What i really was looking for was weather or not it was ok to have two bars instead of one as i need to get my protein levels up for my weight,
I do exercise on a daily bases and burn a lot of calories doing so.
I found that having two bars plus two bananas carries me trough until i get home where i have some bacon and eggs prior to dinner. I’m always shy of my calorie intake by 900 calories so i feel that having two is ok, Don’t know if having any more than this is a good thing though, any thoughts?
I’m 86 kgs 6 foot and 52 years old, with 25% body fat trying to get down to 10% if possible.
Thanks for your comment. Nice, I’ve been doing for the last months also intermittent fasting and I love it. I will soon write a complete piece about it. I will share you my experience and hopefully answer your question. I break my fast with fruit, after long hours not eating. 1 hour later I have my first “big” meal, mainly raw or low carb. Then I use protein bars to fuel my workouts. 45 minutes before, I have a protein bar along with a high-carb snack to give me energy for the exercises. Sometimes if the workout was very intense, I add more protein and carbs to my dinner. So yes, I would say a second protein bar makes sense. I don’t have “the answer” for you. Experiment one week one way and then switch it again. For example, I’ve started having high-carb before the workout because otherwise was very hard to finish. Hope I’ve helped. Have a great day.
I am a 90 year-old English male and I try to walk every day – though admittedly not terribly far. Three quarters of a mile is enough for me these days. I do some modest exercising in the house – standing on tip-toe 100 times; doing some fake running with my arms holding onto the chair back and also other exercises which require me to generally wave my arms and legs about. I try to do about four or five of these sessions in the course of the day, each lasting about five-minutes. Much of the day, however, I’m chair-bound.
My physio recently suggested that I try to up the amount of protein in my diet and I wonder if I ought to try protein bars. I’m a shade chary about this as they seem to suggest that I’ll turn out like an all-in wrestler or a product of the Charles Atlas school.
Is it wise for a man of my age to start quite suddenly eating protein bars? I’d be most grateful for your advice.
Thanks for your comment. I´m no physician so I can´t really give you an advice. I do not know what you are looking for. Are you trying to avoid constant snacking ? Protein bars are designed to replace snacks and avoid constant snacking process food, or, before/after workout to fuel the body with energy or help the muscles to recover from workout. You can also up the amount of protein by eating vegetables high on protein. It really depends what you´re looking for. Hope I´ve helped. Have a great day.
I love protein bars. I have one question however how many are good to eat in a day. This summer I eat one with my lunch and eat one after dinner. I am thinking about only having one after dinner. I began loosing weight faster after I started eating them. The kind I eat is Special K protein bars. Are those hood for you. Love the advice