What are the benefits of protein bars?
Nutritional supplementation is very popular among gyms and fitness culture. Around 30 – 50 % of people and athletes use nutritional supplements, and protein products are the most relevant. However, there could be some concerns on when you should take supplements and what are their benefits in your health (1,2).
In this brief guide, we will address the query “What are the benefits of protein bars?”, additionally, it presents the nutritional value of protein bars, their usage in weight loss and muscle gain, and when you should consider protein bars.
What are the benefits of protein bars?
Protein bars have several benefits, like providing a high load of energy and protein for recovering after a workout. Moreover, almost all protein bars are made with high quality proteins, which provides your body with the essential amino acids needed for strengthening your immune system and muscles (3).
Because protein bars are a small portion of food, this could help to prevent gastrointestinal symptoms like inflammation during or after training (3).
Most of the protein bars in the market are added with vitamins and minerals, so you will have a boost of micronutrients to get an optimal metabolism, plus the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of minerals like selenium, magnesium, and zinc (3).
What is the nutritional value of protein bars?
There is no general rule to make a protein bar, but overall, the nutritional composition of protein bars are 20 to 50 % protein, 30 to 40 % carbohydrates, and < 15 % fats (4,5).
A major part of the protein bars are made of whey protein isolate (milk’s protein), which is a complete protein with all amino acids (4,5).
However, you can also find protein bars with a blend of vegetable proteins like oatmeal, wheat, rice, peas, and soy (3).
The combination of legumes (like soy or peas) with cereals (like rice, wheat, or oatmeal) also form complete proteins, so you can opt for protein bars with these proteins without concern (3).
Are protein bars good for muscle gain?
Yes, protein bars could help for muscle gain due to the high protein content and quality. Remember that you should combine your protein intake with a complete healthy diet and a good training routine to promote muscle gain (6,7).
Are protein bars good for weight loss?
Protein bars could not be the best option for weight loss. Weight loss is achieved by negative energy balance, in other words, spending more energy than the one you consume (3,5,7).
Because protein bars are intended to restore energy stores in athletes, they are dense in nutrients and energy. Maybe protein bars are not a food that can contribute to a negative energy balance (3,5).
However, if you do a good management of your daily calories, you can add protein bars and still lose weight (7). You can ask for advice from a specialist in nutrition to incorporate protein bars in a weight loss diet.
When should you consider protein bars?
You should consider protein bars if you are experiencing uncomfortable symptoms during or after your training (2).
Some symptoms like abdominal inflammation, flatulence, or nausea, due to high loads of food can be a sign that you need high-energy dense foods like protein bars (2).
You can also eat protein bars if you don’t meet your daily requirements of protein. The high content of protein in protein bars will help you to fulfill your protein intake. Remember that proteins are needed to enhance muscle strength and recover from fatigue (2).
What other sources of protein can you consume?
If you don’t need or don’t want to eat protein bars, you can eat animal derived products (beef, chicken, fish, eggs, and milk) or combinations of legumes with cereals; both options can provide you with high quality proteins (8).
Here you can find different foods with their respective protein content.
What are the precautions of protein bars?
You should have some precautions when choosing your protein bar. If you have an allergy to milk’s protein, you should avoid all protein bars with whey protein (3).
Otherwise, if you have an allergy to other ingredients used in bars like soy, cereals, or nuts, you should double-check the labels to prevent anaphylaxis (3).
Where can you find protein bars?
You can find and buy protein bars on a fitness & wellness center, Amazon, and some supermarkets. If you need more information on what protein bar you should buy, here are some reviews of the best protein bars in 2023.
In this brief guide, we addressed the query “What are the benefits of protein bars?”, additionally, it presented the nutritional value of protein bars, their usage in weight loss and muscle gain, and when you should consider protein bars.
- Baltazar-Martins G, Brito de Souza D, Aguilar-Navarro M, Muñoz-Guerra J, Plata MDM, Del Coso J. Prevalence and patterns of dietary supplement use in elite Spanish athletes. J Int Soc Sports Nutr, 2019;16(1):30.
- Huecker M, Sarav M, Pearlman M, Laster J. Protein supplementation in sport: Source, timing, and intended benefits. Curr Nutr Rep, 2019;8(4):382–96.
- Abdel-Salam FF, Ibrahim RM, Ali MI. Formulation and evaluation of high energy-protein bars as a nutritional supplement for sports athletics. American Journal of Food Science and Technology, 2022;10(1):53-65.
- Małecki, J., Tomasevic, I., Djekic, I., & Sołowiej, B. G. The effect of protein source on the physicochemical, nutritional properties and microstructure of high-protein bars intended for physically active people. Foods, 2020; 9(10):1467.
- Jovanov P, Sakač M, Jurdana M, Pražnikar ZJ, Kenig S, Hadnađev M, et al. High-protein bar as a meal replacement in elite sports nutrition: a pilot study. Foods, 2021;10(11):2628.
- Papadopoulou SK. Rehabilitation nutrition for injury recovery of athletes: the role of macronutrient intake. Nutrients, 2020;12(8):2449.
- Lambert, C. P., Frank, L. L., & Evans, W. J. Macronutrient considerations for the sport of bodybuilding. Sports Medicine, 2004;34:317-327.
- Bradbury KE, Tong TYN, Key TJ. Dietary intake of high-protein foods and other major foods in meat-eaters, poultry-eaters, fish-eaters, vegetarians, and vegans in UK Biobank. Nutrients, 2017;9(12):1317.