How many protein bars can I eat a day? We prefer to say no more than 1 generally. It is also best that the protein bar is consumed within 30 minutes of finishing a workout, as a post workout recovery snack. This way, the fatigued muscles can start using the protein as soon as possible to aid muscle hypertrophy and promote tissue growth.
There are some important caveats to this though, and it is important to remember that not all protein bars are created equal. Whilst over eating protein itself may not be too harmful to you, over eating the other ingredients that can also be found in some of these protein bars may actually harm your health. Especially if they are consumed in large quantities.
As you will soon find out, you really should be able to get the majority of your daily protein intake from a clean, healthy diet.
Protein shakes and bars can help here and there, but you should not depend on these as your main source of protein. If you do find yourself eating 3-4 protein bars a day, then you most likely have an ulterior motive for doing so. Some people can easily fall into the trap of overeating protein bars for the taste, while trying to convince themselves that they are being healthy. I have been there myself so I know how easy it is for this to happen.
Sadly, the truth is that the vast majority of protein bars on the market today are not far from being candy bars with health and fitness marketing around it.
Okay, that might be a slight exaggeration, but I am not far wrong. These bars do have a good amount of protein in them and they tend to be a lot lower in sugar than normal candy bars.
However, as we shall soon find out in this article. All is not what it seems with a vast majority of these “health” bars.
Let’s dig a little deeper…
Why Use a Protein Supplement?
The general consensus among experts and researchers is that in order to build lean muscle mass, you need to be consuming between 1-2 grams of protein per pound of body weight a day.
You can read another article I wrote about how much protein is needed to build muscle HERE. In the article, I outline the specific research that suggests that 1-2 grams of protein per pound of body weight.
Needless to say, most people will be able to consume the required amount of protein through a normal, healthy, clean diet with an emphasis on protein rich foods.
So where do supplements come in?
Supplements are mainly designed for convenience. If you are out and about and it’s going to be a while before your next meal, then a supplement can help you maintain your protein intake levels required for building lean muscle.
Most serious athletes use supplements both just before and just after a workout, and they do this in order to maximize the results from there weight training.
Is Consuming Too Much Protein Bad For Your Health?
Studies have shown that contrary to popular belief, over consuming protein will most likely not harm your health. This is assuming you are in good health to begin with and you have no pre-existing medical conditions.
Remember – Always get a check up from a medical professional before beginning a new exercise and diet program.
This particular study conducted in 2016 shows how an over consumption of protein appears not to have any severe harmful effects on health
What we do need to worry about though is the other ingredients that goes into many of these highly popular and heavily marketed protein bars. These bars are not 100% protein, as I have already stated. It is these additives that we need to be weary of.
Health and Fitness Vs Marketing and Profits!
It is important to remember one sad fact when choosing a protein supplement to use, and to what extent you will use it.
That fact is that for many of the companies that make these bars, sales and profits are far higher on their list of priorities than your health is.
The health and fitness industry is huge, and many companies and supplement manufacturers want their slice of the action. So for them, their priority is manufacturing a profitable product.
Here is a list of some of the ‘not so healthy’ ingredients that can be found in some of these bars;
- Sugar Alcohols – Many protein bars actually contain sugar, or ‘artificial sweeteners’ that actually have a similar effect on the body as sugar. Some examples that are commonly found in these kinds of bars are Maltitol, Xylitol, Sorbitol, Lactitol, Mannitol, and Erythritol. The problem with some of these is that if you are on a carbohydrate controlled diet, then you will have an issue consuming bars with these ingredients in. This is because some of these sugar alcohols (some to a lesser or greater extent) raise your blood sugar levels and can cause weight gain body fat.
- Soy Protein Isolate (SPI)– SPI is a form of protein that is very common in protein bars. The problem with SPI as a protein source is that it is considered to be toxic SPI is highly processed and it is certainly not a quality source of protein. Also, much of the soy grown in the states is GMO, which is even worse. When selecting a protein bar to use, try to find one that uses whey protein. Whey protein is far higher quality and much more useful for building lean muscle.
- Fractionated Palm Kernel Oil – Fractionated palm kernel oil is a highly processed form of fat and it certainly is not good for you. It is best to try to avoid protein bars that have this on their list of ingredients; or at lest keep your consumption to a minimum.
- High Fructose Corn Syrup – This one is very bad for you, yet a lot of ‘health bars’ contain it. Again, high fructose corn syrup causes fat gain if eaten in substantial quantities. It has the same affect on the body as what sugar and sugar alcohols do. High fructose corn syrup is still broken down into glucose in your body which spikes your insulin levels and causes you to store body fat.
- Other Artificial Sweeteners – Not all artificial sweeteners are bad for you. For example, monk fruit (amazon listing ) is actually very good for you and the brand that I use to sweeten my food and drinks tastes almost exactly like sugar, but has zero carbs! Some sweeteners however, are not good for you. Sadly, a lot of so called ‘sugar free’ products use artificial ingredients that are not good for your health. That includes many of the protein bars that I am discussing here.
Above: Just took a look one of the many protein bars available in my local store. Immediately I spotted Soy Protein Isolate and Maltitol on the packaging. Just goes to show that most mass produced protein bars have questionable ingredients in them.
By the way, I am not saying that you should never eat these kinds of bars. As I have already stated, you can probably get away with 1 a day right after your workout. However, don’t be fooled into thinking that these are the most beneficial and healthy product on the market when it comes to your health and fitness goals.
Not All Supplements Are Created Equal
Not all protein bars and supplements include the ingredients I have listed and talked about above. Some products have a more natural profile, and others use ingredients that can be harmful to your health.
What you want to do is to try to find the most natural protein bars you can with the least amount of man made ingredients in them. This is especially the case if you are going to be consuming these bars on a regular basis.
Quite often, the powdered form of protein supplements are the most pure and they tend to have less junk in them than the bars do. As I have already allured to, there seems to be a thing in this industry for the manufacturers of protein based snacks to try to mimic candy and chocolate bars. Again, this is most likely to be because they want their product to appeal to your sweet tooth so you eat more of them.
Want to Know Which Supplements Can Actually Benefit You?
If you would rather avoid these quasi-candy bars and learn about quality bodybuilding supplements, then click below to read my in depth review. In this unbiased review, I take a good look art 4 supplements that are very high quality but have different uses and different pros and cons.
The review opens another page on this website but in a new window.
Why Use Protein Bars Over Shakes? Pros and Cons of both
The only main advantage that I can see of using a protein bar over a powder, is that you don’t need to mix it with a liquid before you consume the supplement. Also, a bar takes up a lot less room in your gym bag.
As I have said earlier, If you are going to use a shop bought bar, then you want to double check the ingredients list. Do your research and keep your consumption of these bars to 1 a day, or even less if possible. In my opinion, you should really only use these types of bars as post workout snack after an intense strength workout.
If you would like to consume protein bars on a more regular basis as a handy snack, then I recommend that you make your own. That way you know what’s going into them.
You will also save a lot of money too. Protein bars that you find in the shops are very expensive.
How to Make Your Own Healthy Protein Bars
I have found a great recipe on YouTube for no bake protein bars. The best thing is that they are all natural, and contain plant based protein so they are great for vegans too.
With these bars, you can get away with eating a few more in a day without that guilty feeling.