ARE PROTEIN BARS GOOD OR BAD?
Protein bars are a nutritional supplement that provides protein, and potentially other nutrients, to your diet. While they are not intrinsically good or bad, how you use them as part of your overall eating habits can be beneficial or detrimental. The decision to use them can depend on your eating habits, your fitness goals and your financial circumstances.
Protein bars include isolated protein from one or more sources; for example, milk, soy or eggs. They can include other ingredients as well that offer carbohydrates, fats, vitamins or minerals to bolster your intake of these nutrients, and they typically come in a variety of flavors for improved taste. The quality of the protein, as well as the amount and quality of added ingredients, influences whether these supplements might help or hinder your nutrition and overall health.
PROTEIN BARS – BEFORE OR AFTER A WORKOUT?
There are so many types of protein bar available, which one should you choose for a pre or post workout snack? What are the benefits of eating a protein bar at these times and how could they help you get more from your workout as you aim for your weight loss goals?
Read on and we will show you why, for some people, a pre-workout bar might not be the best idea and why eating one post-workout could help those extra pounds to melt away!
THE REASONS FOR EATING A PROTEIN BAR BEFORE EXERCISING
Quest Nutrition Protein Bars Apple PieFor some of us, (ok, for most of us), getting motivated to exercise is the hardest part! Having the encouragement of buddies to workout with, is really helpful; A personal trainer, if you can afford one will help you to push yourself that little bit harder and achieve better results more quickly.
In addition, a protein bar eaten around an hour before exercising can help you get the most out of your fitness routine in two ways.
- These can help you to have more energy, which not only motivates you to work harder but helps you to get started in the first place! For this reason, it is probably better to choose a pre-workout bar with higher carbohydrate levels than you would normally choose as it is the carbohydrate that will help most at this stage.
- The protein in the bar, whatever protein source you choose, (whey, casein, soy, etc.), will help to prevent a slump in blood sugar during your workout. This will help you to keep going and exercise at your best, throughout.
WHY YOU MIGHT WANT TO ONLY HAVE A PROTEIN BAR AFTER EXERCISE
For anyone specifically trying to lose weight, a protein bar after exercise instead of beforehand can help your body to burn more fat. Here is a simple explanation of why this should be.
Simply put, Glycogen molecules are a sort of ‘energy bank’ for the body – a way of storing glucose for use when more energy is needed. Eating carbohydrate adds to these stores, using energy in a workout depletes the stores, causing the muscles to start getting their energy from burning fat!
Protein bars gives you the energy you need after your workout Strangely, it is not the muscles that need most of the Glycogen in the body, the brain and our nervous system use about 2/3rds of it just to keep
functioning at optimum levels. This only leaves another 1/3rd to meet the needs of the muscles and all the other processes going on in the body.
When you work out in a strenuous exercise routine, by the end of it, Glycogen stores are depleted and the muscles are getting their energy from fat burning. If you pile in extra protein and carbohydrate before your workout in the shape of a protein bar, your muscles will take their energy from this rather than from your fat stores – just because it is easier for your body to do this.
So, if you eat your protein bar after your strenuous exercise routine, your brain and central nervous system get the Glycogen they need first, your muscles will have got the energy they needed from burning more fat and now you are giving them protein to help them repair and build more muscle.
Remember, by gaining more muscle your base metabolic rate will increase and ensure your body is burning more calories 24/7. So eating a protein bar only after exercising is probably the way to go if you want your workout to have maximum fat-burning effect.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF EATING PROTEIN BARS?
The main benefit is convenience. Whether you buy prepackaged protein bars or make homemade protein bars, they’re easy to pack in a backpack, purse or gym bag.
Eating a protein bar is an easy way to get some extra grams of protein into your diet.
Protein bars can help you lose or gain weight. A protein bar between meals can help control your appetite, just don’t overdo it – one should be enough. Look for bars that are lower in sugar and calories. If you’re trying to gain weight, eating protein bars can help. Add one or two bars to your regular diet, but don’t cut calories from other meals.
ARE THERE ANY BAD PROTEIN BARS?
I don’t think there are any bad protein bars, but make sure you read the labels before you buy one – you may be surprised at the number of calories you’re taking in because many brands are high in added sugar.
Some protein bars are sweetened with sugar alcohols, which have fewer calories than sugar but are not calorie-free. You should also avoid protein bars made with partially hydrogenated oils that contain trans-fats.
When protein bars include high-quality protein – such as from soy or animal sources – they contribute essential amino acids to your diet to help you build and maintain muscle mass, synthesize immune and red blood cells, repair wounds or damaged tissues and manufacture both hormones and enzymes. They can also supply energy in the form of carbohydrates or fats, as well as vitamins or minerals for supporting your overall health. Because they need no refrigeration or preparation, they make a convenient on-the-go snack or small meal replacement. Depending on your fitness goals, they can offer a boost of protein for relatively few calories when you are trying to lose weight, or additional nutrients to augment your regular meal plan when you are adding to your body mass.
Even protein bars packed with ingredients cannot replace all the nutrients found in whole-food sources. Relying on protein bars for a significant proportion of your food intake can deny you the benefits of the vitamins, minerals, heart-healthy fats, phytochemicals and fiber abundant in natural foods. In addition, the convenience of protein bars comes at a price. Sports nutritionist Nancy Clark estimates protein bars can cost up to three times more than whole foods containing an equivalent amount of protein. If your regular food intake supplies sufficient protein and energy to meet your fitness needs, consuming protein bars can also add unwanted calories to your diet.
THE EFFECTS OF PROTEIN BARS
Protein bars are a dietary supplement commonly used by body builders and athletes. Considered to be a crucial time-saving and nutritional aid by athletes who lead busy lives, protein bars allow you to receive necessary nutrients in a convenient and effective manner. The various types of protein bars deliver key nutrients that improve your overall health and physical performance.
MUSCLE GROWTH AND FAT LOSS
Whey protein, the key ingredient in many leading protein bars, has been shown to increase lean muscle mass and aid in losing weight, particularly in terms of fat loss. Consume protein bars in conjunction with intense physical training to build lean muscle mass “at much higher rates,” according to Price Plow. Bars with whey protein, rather than whey protein isolate, are found to be particularly helpful in adding lean muscle mass.
RECOVERY AND ENERGY
In addition to having a high protein content, most protein bars also incorporate key nutrients including vitamins, fats, carbohydrates and minerals that aid the body in muscle recovery and overall energy maintenance. According to Think Muscle, protein bars with a high protein content and moderate to high content of carbohydrates are ideal for athletes who are looking to specifically support their energy levels. As for muscle recovery, consuming protein bars immediately after intense workouts allows your muscle tissue to store carbohydrates (glycogen), making for an enhanced recovery.
NEGATIVE SIDE EFFECTS
Some individuals experience minor side effects when eating protein bars. According to Bodybuilding For You, consuming too much whey protein could potentially cause damage to your liver. There is debate about this, however, as Price Plow states that damage to your liver from protein bars is a “common misconception.” A high-protein diet does raise the nitrogen levels in your body, so it is important that you drink plenty of water while eating protein bars on a regular basis. Individuals who are lactose intolerant may benefit from sticking to protein bars made with whey protein isolate, which contains less than one percent lactose, as opposed to the five to six percent that whey protein concentrate contains.