Are protein bars good for you? Well - that depends. It could be argued that the healthiest foods are those which are entirely unrefined or processed - but few of us have the ability to eat a diet like that.
Protein bars offer a way to pack in the vital macronutrient in an easy, accessible way. You can buy them in bulk or just pick one up at the supermarket to up your protein intake on the go. But not all protein bars are created equal - and some are healthier than others.
Here at Oatein, we’ve ditched a lot of the ingredients that make some protein bars taste like chalk - then went even further by cutting down on sugar and other additives. By using oats as our main ingredient (hence our name), we are able to offer a healthy base in our protein bars.
Let’s have a go at answering some of the pressing protein bar health questions…
Are protein bars good for you?
Protein is not inherently ‘good’ - but it is one of the essential macronutrients that fuels your body. Protein bars up your protein intake and therefore your body’s ability to repair and rebuild muscle. Remember that even heavily processed junk food has protein in it, so the fact that something contains lots of protein does not make it inherently healthy.
A protein bar is almost always a better alternative to the product it tries to imitate - the classic chocolate bar. Where a chocolate bar offers very little in terms of beneficial nutrition, a protein bar offers lots of protein with the same “sweet treat” indulgence and convenience of a confectionery.
The Oatein Hype Bar, for example, has 19g of protein and less than 2g of sugar. Most common chocolate bars from big brands have anywhere between 20 and 30g of sugar and less than 4g of protein - making them basically the opposite in terms of beneficial calories.
It's the little changes that can make the protein bars good for you. Oat flour, for example, is a low Gi ingredient that helps fuel our Hype bars and your body.
Are protein bars good for weight loss?
Protein bars, on their own, are not weight loss products. However, they can be part of a diet that promotes weight loss. While some companies may try and sell you protein as a diet product, the only true recipe for weight loss is to have fewer calories going into your body than you are burning through exercise and your basal metabolism.
With that in mind, protein bars are still a healthy replacement for some of the snacks and treats you may miss when trying to clean up your diet. The excess sugars in mainstream chocolate bars, for example, are often converted into fat.
Protein bars for weight loss are all about understanding that they are still part of your calorie intake. The positive, however, is that because they’re packed with protein you can enjoy muscle-building benefits and will feel fuller for longer, so you won’t need to eat as many calories to compensate.
Do protein bars make you fat?
Just like the answer above, the answer to this one is all about understanding calories in/out. No,protein bars do not make you fat - unless you eat so many that you’re shooting over your calorie limits.
Protein bars which are low in sugar are a better alternative to high sugar versions - as sugar can easily end up as fat in your body if it is not burned off quickly enough. Protein bars can also vary heavily in calorie and ingredient content. To avoid adding excess calories, choose a lower calorie bar with a high protein count so that it keeps you feeling full for longer.
Our Hype bars are great for this, with less than 2g of sugar and 19g of protein in each one.
When should you eat a protein bar?
Protein is generally best-consumed post-workout, where it helps provide the macronutrients and amino acids the body needs to rebuild muscle fibres which break down during exercise. There are theories suggesting that the best time is within 30 minutes, though there’s disagreement online as to whether this is an accurate claim. Regardless, post-workout is a good time to give your body what it needs most.
However, you can also eat protein bars throughout the day as a way to stave off hunger and enjoy a healthier alternative to classic sweet treats. Because protein is responsible for feelings of satiety, it can help you fend off cravings.
How many protein bars a day?
This question gets asked way more than we’d thought it would online.
To answer it, you’d first need to know how much protein you’re trying to consume in a day. According to some sources, 0.8 grams per kg of body weight is sufficient - but bodybuilders and gym-goers likely aim for more. Once you know this, you can do the maths to work out how many protein bars you need to add to your standard diet to help you reach your goal.
As an adult, it’s up to you to decide how many bars you want to eat in a day - but we’d suggest limiting them in comparison to main meals. While our protein bars are healthier than most sweet products, they are still not a full replacement for main meals and the array of minerals, vitamins and fibres offered from them.
How many calories are in a protein bar?
Calorie content varies by brand and product. While we discussed it briefly above in relation to weight loss/gain, understanding how many calories are in your protein bar of choice is just the beginning. Two protein bars from different brands that are 150 calories each may vary wildly in protein content, nutritional value and taste.
Oatein protein bars vary in calorie content through each flavour option - with the vegan versions generally the lowest in calories. On average, our products have calorie ranges as follows:
- Hype Bar - 192-199kcals
- Millionaire Crunch - 237-243kcals
- Protein Cookie - 278-293kcals
- Nutty Crisp - 215-216kcals
- Flapjack - 133-134kcals
If you want an easily accessible source of protein that tastes great, is low in sugar and doesn’t have that same chalky texture many artificial protein products have, try our sensational Hype protein bars today.