Protein is an essential part of any fitness or muscle-building regime. The amino acids contained within protein-rich foods are used by the body to repair muscles after exercise. Getting the right combination of exercise and protein consumption is the ideal way to increase the size and strength of muscles, tone up the body and raise the metabolism. Two of the most popular protein-boosting products on the market are protein bars and protein shakes. Let’s take a look at the relative merits of each to find out which is the best option for a post-workout snack.
The amount of protein in popular protein bars varies widely. Bars that are designed to boost protein intake generally contain around 30 grams per bar. However, you need to watch out for the “energy bars” that are also marketed at keen gym-goers. Although similar in appearance, these bars are packed with sugar and carbohydrates and only contain around 10-15 grams of protein. Although energy bars are useful sources of energy to get you through your workout, if you eat them after working out then all that sugar will be turned to fat as it won’t be burned off. Stick to bars that are high in protein and low in carbohydrates for a post-workout protein boost.
Alternatively, you could use protein shakes to boost your protein intake either before or after working out. A protein shake made up from a single scoop of protein powder contains between 20 and 25 grams of protein, with the exact value depending on the composition of the protein powder.
Protein bars often contain slightly more protein than protein shakes, so you don’t need to eat as many of them to reach your recommended protein intake. The International Society of Sports Nutrition recommends that exercising individuals consume between 1.4 and 2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight each day. The majority of this protein should come from your meals, in the form of lean meat, fish, eggs, or beans, but protein bars and shakes can also help you to meet the target. Eating five protein bars per week will provide approximately 150 grams, which is approximately 20% of the minimum recommended amount for a 70 kg active adult. You would need to drink 6 or 7 protein shakes to get the same amount.
Many protein shakes on the market solely or primarily consist of whey protein, which comes from cow’s milk. Whey is one of the most rapidly absorbed types of protein, which means these shakes are ideal for delivering a quick burst of protein to your muscles after exercising. Protein bars, on the other hand, usually contain a blend of different protein types. As a result, they absorb more slowly, which could leave you feeling fuller for longer but will mean that your muscles will have longer to wait for the protein they need to begin repairing themselves.
Many people have intolerances that mean they cannot digest dairy or soy, both of which are common ingredients in protein shakes and bars. If you are affected by a food intolerance or allergy, make sure you choose a protein supplement that is suitable for you. Consuming foods that irritate your digestive tract will lead to poor absorption of protein and other nutrients.
Protein bars contain more calories than protein shakes, which is something you need to take into account if you are trying to lose weight. A protein bar typically contains between 200 and 400 calories, while a scoop of protein powder is around 120 calories. However, protein bars also contain dietary fiber, which can lead to a longer-lasting feeling of fullness.
Protein Bars vs. Shakes: The Verdict
If you are trying to lose weight at the same time as getting fit, protein shakes may be the better option. You could even use meal replacement shakes, which give you the nutrients you need to stay healthy without any empty calories. However, many people find protein bars more convenient than protein shakes. Eat several bars per week or drink a shake every day to get a significant contribution towards your recommended protein intake.
Do you prefer protein bars or protein shakes? Neither? What are you primary sources of protein? Leave a comment!
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