One of the main advantages of protein bars is their ease of use. Always have a protein bar packed in your gym bag. Then post-workout if you’re in a rush, it’s an easy way to ensure you fuel your body with protein to maximise muscle growth. It also makes a change from the usual post-workout shake, eating solid foods is often much more satisfying (this is a useful tip when cutting).
Protein bars can be used throughout the day. Obviously post-workout is an ideal time if you are on the go. In addition consuming a bar pre-workout can be beneficial. If you are feeling low on energy, have a protein bar approximately an hour before you train and the extra energy will allow you to increase the intensity of your workout. Protein bars are also a great snack to have between meals. They help to stop the cravings until your next meal by keeping you fuller for longer, as digesting protein is a slow process.
Knowing which protein bar to buy can often be a daunting process, and depending on your goal your choice of protein bar will be very different. Most protein bars have between 180-250 calories per bar, but it is the varying amount of the macro nutrients (carbohydrates, fats and protein) that are most crucial. Protein content of a bar can vary from 10g to 30g, I would always recommend a bar that has high protein. This ensures that the body has enough protein to rebuild damaged muscle fibres after a workout. However very high protein contents in a small bar often result in a less than an unpleasant taste. I have found that around the 20g mark seems to hit the right balance. Be careful of bars which claim to be protein bars but in reality have very low protein content and are packed full of fats and sugars to improve the taste, this will do little good for your physique. The carbohydrates in a bar vary from 15g to 30g. Carbohydrates replenish the glycogen (storage form of carbohydrates) levels in the muscle, making your muscles look larger. The actual quantity needed will vary upon the intensity of your workout, the more energy you use the more carbohydrates you will require. With all these variables to consider it is best to try out a few different brands and decide which one suits your needs the best.
Protein bars can be quite expensive so taking them as your primary source of protein is not a good idea. It is better to use protein shakes for regular use as they are cheaper per gram of protein. However protein bars convenience and versatility make them an essential supplement for the regular gym user.