What is the best time to eat a protein bar?
Nutritional supplementation is a quite common practice. Around 30 – 50 % of people use nutritional supplements, and proteins are the most wanted (1,2). Timing is important to get all the benefits of your protein supplementation (2), and you should know when is the best time for consuming your protein bar.
In this brief guide, we will address the query “What is the best time to eat a protein bar?”, additionally, it explains briefly the importance of protein in your health and in exercise, and how much protein you should consume.
What is the best time to eat a protein bar?
Even if there is controversy about when is the best time to eat your protein bar, eating your protein bar after your exercise seems to have better effects on your recovery, rather than eating your bar before the workout (2,3).
After your workout, your muscles have micro injuries or “damages” due to the stress of the exercise. Your body will use the proteins and calories from the protein bar to repair your muscle damage. As a result, your body will create bigger and stronger muscle fibers (2,4).
It is important to note that exercise uses all your energy storage of glycogen. Glycogen is a glucose-based molecule your body uses as the main energy source for your muscles. Consuming a protein bar after your workout will help restore your glycogen storage (3).
Therefore, consuming a protein bar after your workout will help you repair your muscles and also refuel your energy storage for the next workout session! (3)
Who should be eating protein bars?
Protein bars and other supplements, like protein powder, are designed for being consumed by people who do not meet their requirements within the diet. For instance, if you need 100 g of protein a day, but you can only eat 50 g in your diet, you should consider protein supplementation (1).
Another scenario where protein supplementation can be considered is for athletes’ comfort. High loads of food can cause intestinal discomfort like inflammation or flatulence, reducing athletes’ performance. Protein bars could be a good option to have a high load of protein in a small amount of food, avoiding negative gastrointestinal symptoms (1).
Why is protein important in health and exercise?
Proteins are essential in health and exercise because this macronutrient is needed for building most of the components in our body.
Proteins are made of amino acids, which are needed for creating immune cells, some hormones, neurotransmitters, enzymes to digest our foods, and also for creating tissues like organs or muscles (1).
Therefore, proteins are crucial for your health, because without proteins you might be susceptible to get ill, or your body can be impaired to digest and absorb all nutrients (1).
In exercise, the importance of proteins are also related to your muscles hypertrophy and strength. Muscle strength is essential in exercise’s performance, it will define your power and/or resistance to fatigue, so you better keep your muscles nurtured to excel in your discipline (1,2).
How much protein should you eat a day?
There is no clear answer on how much protein you should eat a day, this will depend on your needs (2).
If you are a sedentary person, you should eat around 0.8 – 1 g of protein a day; but if you are an athlete, your needs will vary from 1.5 – 2.2 g a day depending on your discipline, your training phase, and many other factors (2).
You can look at this site for information about protein sources, and how much protein is contained in different foods.
You should look for professional advice with a nutritionist; he or she will adjust your protein intake according to your needs.
What happens if you eat too much protein?
If you eat too much protein, and you have fulfilled your energy requirements, your body will metabolize it and convert it to another substrate required by your body, it can be lipids or carbohydrates to form glycogen. Your body will not waste anything! (5)
There is a belief that consuming too much protein could increase the risk of kidney disease. According to studies, you will not be at risk of kidney disease even if you consume 3 g/kg a day for 1 year (2).
However, if you already have kidney disease, you must adjust your protein intake around 0.8 g/kg a day (6).
In this brief guide, we addressed the query “What is the best time to eat a protein bar?”, additionally, we explained briefly the importance of protein in your health and in exercise, and how much protein you should consume.
- 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.
- James LJ, Stevenson EJ, Rumbold PLS, Hulston CJ. Cow’s milk as a post-exercise recovery drink: implications for performance and health. EJSS, 2019;19(1):40–8.
- Plotkin DL, Delcastillo K, Van Every DW, Tipton KD, Aragon AA, Schoenfeld BJ. Isolated leucine and branched-chain amino acid supplementation for enhancing muscular strength and hypertrophy: A narrative review. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab, 2021;31(3):292–301.
- Papadopoulou SK. Rehabilitation nutrition for injury recovery of athletes: The role of macronutrient intake. Nutrients, 2020;12(8):2449.
- Ko, Gang Jee et al. Dietary protein intake and chronic kidney disease. Current opinion in clinical nutrition and metabolic. 2017;20(1): 77-85.