The Pros & Cons of Protein Bars: Are They Healthy?

protein bars

The Pros & Cons of Protein Bars.

For a long time, protein bars were considered the favorite supplement of bodybuilders who nearly turned the gym into their home, and that was the main demographic. Bodybuilders were the target market for these snacks. Fast forward to today and you have more and more everyday people consuming them, regardless of their demographic. Men, women, children, gym goers or non gym goers, so many people buy protein bars. A big reason people love protein bars is because they see them as a convenient, healthier alternative to those sugar-filled candy bars that you can find everywhere.

Recently, protein packed snacks have become very popular since there are so many flavors and products out there, plus they are incredibly convenient. You can have them on the go, as a nice treat after a meal, even some protein bars are designed as meal replacements!

But are protein bars really that healthy? Sure, a lot of them may have good macros and advertise the “zero sugar” nutrition label, but are these products truly healthy? Let’s focus on their pros and cons as we will try to find out whether they are indeed the Holy Grail of gym goers instead of just another marketing strategy or a fad.

The Pros

The Protein Intake

According to nutritionists, protein is the most important ingredient in such nutrition bars as it represents the key macronutrient for every person looking to pack on or even maintain muscle mass. Protein keeps your metabolic rate in check, helps build lean muscle mass, and regulates hormonal and satiety levels.

It is recommended that people who want to improve their body fat to muscle ratio consume around 25 to 35 grams of protein at every meal, as this is what the human body is said to be capable of digesting all at once. If you are one of those people, physical exercise and working out hard in the gym are essential activities.

If you are into building muscle, you should boost your protein intake to 1.5 grams per pound of body weight. To put it in perspective, that is around 300 grams of protein if you weigh 200 pounds.

Convenience

Just imagine spending an entire afternoon cooking lots of protein-packed meals, dividing them into separate containers for each day of the week, keeping them cold, carrying them around with you, and finally heating them up again and again. This is where protein bars win ground. They are very convenient as they do not require any preparation, refrigeration, and are small and easy to carry around. You can take a protein bar quite literally anywhere, and consume it at any time. Whether it be at the office, at the gym, on a hike, in your car, wherever and whenever doing cardio, a protein bar is always ready to eat.

With our busy lifestyles, these small protein packed products are the ideal choice when we want to make sure that we consume the ideal protein intake every day.

The Nutrients

Nutrients are essential fuel for our bodies to function properly. Things like fat, fiber, and carbs provide necessary nutrients that our bodies require to function, and they work incredibly well when consumed along with protein. This mix maintains your energy levels up, makes you feel full, and increases the amino acid production which helps your muscles.

That is why protein bars can be the perfect snack for before and after a difficult workout session.

The Variety and Taste

Another thing that definitely makes protein bars favorable, is the variety and taste they bring to the table. Everyone knows that a standard fitness diet that consists of a lot of foods like chicken, beef, turkey, rice, and so on, can get boring and really be a turn off from dieting.

You can get a protein bar in just about any flavor, and if you do not like that flavor, you move onto another one. They are like a sweet treat.

The Cons

Sugar and Caloric Intake

The amount of protein on a label is what really sticks out to us, so not many people who consume protein bars realize that most of protein bars usually contain over 30 grams of sugar. As for calories, certain types of bars can have even more than a regular, vending machine-bought candy bar. This is clearly not the best recipe when it comes to maintaining a healthy weight and balancing your body composition.

However, there are alternatives to those not-so-healthy protein bars. You just have to be aware of what is on the label before you buy them.

Pro Tip: You can even make yourself some protein popsicles by mixing up your protein shakes and putting them into popsicle molds. How’s that for a post workout treat?

The Additives

Apart from the sugar and calories, there are some protein bars that also contain lots of difficult-to-pronounce and laboratory-made food additives. Some of those include partially hydrogenated oils, artificial sugars, food coloring, and high-fructose corn syrup. For example, some protein bars may advertise that they have “no sugar”, but then to maintain the sweet taste they are pumped full of junk substitutes and fillers that can hinder your gains.

To avoid these protein bars, look for those low-sugar alternatives made from whole ingredients. You can also try vegan protein bars which are usually cleaner and healthier.

A Protein Bar we Recommend

With all of that in mind, a protein bar we recommend the MyProtein Layered Bar. This bar delivers a delicious protein packed product, consisting of five indulgent layers with a soft core to easily satisfy anyone’s sweet tooth, and not going overboard with the sugar.

Whether it be for meal replacement, snacking, or just a tasty treat, you cannot go wrong with at least giving the MyProtein Layered Bar a try.

Each bar comes in around only 220 total calories, with 9 grams of fat, 19 grams of carbs, and 20 grams of protein. It is the perfect protein bar, as every flavor tastes great and has some fantastic macros to go along with it.

Check out our individual review for MyProtein Layered Bars!

Wrap Up

So, are protein bars healthy?

It is very important to set a clear goal and know exactly what protein bar is best for you. Even though they are convenient and a lot of them taste great and are packed with protein, we have seen that protein bars can have negative sides too.

In case your bar is your main source of protein, look for one with more protein and better macros overall. If you want to eat it before going to bed, avoid sugars by all means! The opposite applies if you’re looking for fuel during a difficult workout, a sugary bar can provide that boost of energy. All in all, it’s all about seeing the finish line, finding a balance, and establishing what works best for you.


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Dylan Wolf
I work mainly in content writing, focusing my free time on bodybuilding and strength sports. I was introduced to fitness in high school and after watching Generation Iron movies. I love to train. I have competed multiple times, even winning a junior title in classic physique. I have a bachelor's in criminal justice and business obtained through Alvernia University. When I am not focused on work or training, I enjoy watching films or reading about anything and everything.