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Fact checked by Andrew Lenau, ISSA CPT & Sports NutritionistFACT CHECKED
January 18, 2023
In the pursuit of a slimmer waist, many of us are continuously looking for ways to shed pounds. Whether it's a new diet, supplements, or a workout program promising fat-burning results, there is no shortage of things to try. One method is eating protein bars for weight loss.
The good news is that protein bars can play a positive role in your weight loss journey, as long as you use them correctly. You heard us! There is a right and wrong way to use protein bars for weight loss.
This article is going to show you how to most effectively use protein bars to hit your goals. In addition, this post will cover:
If you've been looking for a way to eat healthy, lose weight, and enjoy a delicious snack, protein bars may be just what you need.
Let's first define what we are talking about when we say "protein bars," as this can mean different things to different people.
For example, some people will call any sort of bar, like granola bars or energy bars, sold under the guise of a nutritional snack a protein bar. But they are not.
Even some meal replacement bars are marketed as protein bars. While these are a bit more nuanced, they still aren't exactly what we call protein bars.
Protein bars' sole purpose is to provide a high amount of protein.
When talking about whey protein bars, this will generally be around 20 grams of protein. With vegan protein bars, the total amount will likely be less, around 15 grams or so. While some may come fortified with extra vitamins and minerals, which is definitely a plus, that's not their main purpose.
Think of them as a solid form of protein shakes.
Meal replacement bars' purpose is to replace a meal entirely. For this reason, meal replacements will come with higher calories (usually somewhere around 300) as well as more vitamins and minerals.
Some protein bars are actually advertised as meal replacements, and they can be used as one (we'll address this below), but if your meals only have 130 calories with high protein and nothing else, you're not going to get close to consuming the nutrients you need. A 130-calorie meal likely isn't going to seem very satisfying either.
Now that we know exactly what a protein bar is, let's dig into the question on everyone's mind: Can they help you lose weight?
And our answer - drumroll, please - is: Yes, they can help you slim down!
However, there's a big caveat here. They will only help you lose weight when combined with a proper diet and exercise. For example, if you are counting macros or watching your calories while following the 80 20 rule diet, and you're pairing that with a workout split, protein bars are great for keeping your protein intake high, which helps you feel fuller. They also are relatively low in calories, so you can use them as an easy snack between meals.
On the flip side of this, if you are eating protein bars for weight loss, not following any sort of diet, and not exercising, then the answer quickly becomes no, they will not help. If the only thing you're doing to lose weight is eat protein bars, that is not a good plan and it won't work.
So, assuming you're eating protein bars in the correct way for weight loss, let's take a closer look at what makes them so great!
When used correctly, protein bars play an important role in maintaining a healthy diet and keeping you on track with weight loss. Here are some of their best weight loss benefits.
One of the reasons we put emphasis on protein bars actually containing protein is because one of their main benefits is supporting a high-protein diet.
High protein diets are effective at helping people lose weight1. Reasons for this include:
Being that your average protein bar delivers 20+ grams, this make is an ideal product to use as a healthy snack or planned meal (more on this shortly).
Back in the day, supplement companies were few, and you could only really choose between a couple of brands. On top of that, protein bars basically came in 1 or 2 styles.
Compare that to today when shopping for the best protein bars for weight loss may even seem daunting. Some of the options to choose from include whey protein bars, grass-fed whey, soy protein isolates, and gluten-free.
Being hungry can have a negative effect on our mood and energy levels. Plus, no one wants to finish a tough leg workout and then feel as though they're starving and depleted for the next several hours.
Fortunately, eating a protein bar (we'd recommend avoiding low carb protein bars if you're hoping to increase your energy) can definitely provide you with an energy burst as it satisfies your hunger. In addition, some protein bars, like the brand Aloha, are even starting to include caffeine in their bars.
To summarize this, being hungry can definitely drain your energy levels, so eating a protein bar can help provide a much-needed boost.
Back in the day, protein supplements did not taste good.
There were limited options, and you basically chose between one that tasted like chalk, or another that had a pungent taste of artificial sweeteners. It was bad.
However, over the years, protein bars have evolved immensely. Now, with all the delicious flavors, your problem may be that you end up eating too many protein bars, as some taste like candy bars.
Everything from chocolate peanut butter flavors to chocolate brownie to blueberry muffin and cookies and cream are awesome for satisfying a sweet tooth, while still supporting healthy eating.
Knowing protein bars can help you lose weight is one thing. However, understanding when and how to include the best healthy protein bars in your diet is another. Here's how you can get the most out of yours.
The best way to use protein bars is as a snack.
Always keep some good protein bar options around the house. Keeping a few in your car or bag is also a great idea as well to ensure you always have something on hand. You never know when hunger will strike!
In addition to eating protein bars in an unplanned situation, you can also make these your planned go-to snack throughout the day. For example, if you eat 3 main meals and have 2 snacks, make one of the snacks a protein bar.
It's important to not view these as everyday meals, however. You're much better off opting for a delicious bowl of high protein oatmeal in the morning and one of these high protein lunch ideas for your midday meal.
You can definitely eat a protein bar every day in a similar way you would drink a protein shake. But you don't want all of your protein coming from protein bars.
It's important to keep in mind there are times when you might need to eat them as more than a snack. For example, you need to stay late at work, or you're unable to leave to get some real food. Perhaps you are a traveler or hiker, and there are times when it's challenging for you to easily access real food.
If you are in a position in which you don't know when your next real meal may be, and you're going to need to eat more than one protein bar, it may be a good idea to invest in some actual meal replacement bars or make some easy protein balls that are jam-packed with protein, fats and healthy carbs. These will provide you with the vitamins and minerals you don't get with protein bars.
Remember that we mainly support the use of protein bars for weight loss because they pack a lot of protein. The missing step here is discussing how much protein you need daily, so you know what you're aiming for.
When you lose weight, your daily protein intake will actually be higher than when your goal is weight gain. This is because of the above benefits of eating a lot of protein. Therefore, we suggest people eat at least 1.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight.
Interestingly, there is evidence that eating even more than this brings better results. Start at 1.8 grams per kilogram, see what happens, and adjust as needed.
Some people may still question if they can use a protein bar as a meal replacement. We wouldn't recommend doing so.
This is because a protein bar isn't a meal, as it doesn't provide the nutrition one would get from eating a full meal, like these filling bulking breakfast ideas.
A situation in which this may work for you is if you find eating two bigger meals more satisfying than eating three or four. In this situation, eating a protein bar between these two meals can work, as it will provide you with a bit of nourishment to hold you over until your next meal. But in this context, it's still serving as a snack, not a meal.
Studies have shown that using meal replacements can be useful in losing weight2. These will generally have fewer calories than a regular meal while providing a bunch of vitamins and minerals. We will list our favorite ones below.
There are a ton of different protein bar options, making it difficult to decide which one is the best protein bar for weight loss. Here are a few of our favorites.
Quest is one of the best weight loss protein bars. In fact, these bars are famous for being one of the first protein bars offered that truly taste delicious. Quest flavors taste awesome and are perhaps the most unique.
ONE protein bars are another popular choice due to their awesome flavor, with many liking them better than Quest.
While their calorie count is a bit higher, the exceptional taste may be worth it for some people.
Outright protein bars are a relatively new product, with many people not only believing these actually taste better than Quest bars, but also praising its list of ingredients.
Their downside is their calories are actually a bit high, so if your calories are close, these may not be the best choice, at least as your primary protein bar.
If you need a true meal replacement, these bars are the way to go. Each bar has 410 calories and also provides 32 grams of quality protein. In addition, they provide a high dose of almost all your vitamins and minerals.
Plus, they taste great. We definitely advise you to keep some of these at work for times when a lunch break isn't going to happen.
If the options above don't suit your fancy, make sure to check out our post that covers the Best Protein Bars on the market.
In search of the best-tasting protein bars for weight loss? Make your own! It's actually quite easy to do and you get to control the ingredients. One common method is to make what's known as "no-bake" protein bars.
These are protein bars that you mix up and then freeze or refrigerate, depending on the ingredients you used. In addition, this option typically offers better ingredients and is cheaper than purchasing them.
Some common ingredients include:
When you make them, use less milk (or water), so the protein powder turns into a thick batter. Mix it with the other ingredients, and place it in the fridge or freezer to harden. If you're going to go this route, make sure to invest in a great protein powder as it will definitely impact your bar's flavor!
When used correctly, protein bars can definitely help build a better body composition and assist you on your weight loss journey.
You'll find that regularly including a protein bar makes it easier to continue eating healthy while providing your body and muscles with quality nutrition. Weight loss doesn't have to be hard. You just have to know how to do it the right way!
Looking for another great protein-packed option to support your weight loss goals? Try one of these healthy and delicious protein shake recipes!
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