Do Protein Bars Make You Fat? Answered!

May 11, 2022
Do Protein Bars Make You Fat? Answered!

If you are having a hard time deciding whether or not to include protein bars in your weight-loss diet, we can assure you that you are not alone! 

However, just when you think you have finally found a protein bar that won't disappoint you, you get another new piece of information and go back to square one. While it is true that most protein bars contain plenty of protein (duh), most of them also have nuts, and artificial sweeteners which amp up the calorie count. 

The truth is the nutritional profile of a healthy protein bar varies from brand to brand and can even change based on the flavor of your choice.

But do protein bars make you fat?

It's a common question and the answer is that it depends. While protein bars can be high in calories, they are not inherently fat-inducing. It simply depends on how many you eat and what other foods you pair them with. 

Read on to know more!

Protein Bars & Fat 

Protein bars are generally made up of a combination of proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. When consumed in moderation, these bars can be a great snack option that provides much-needed energy and essential nutrients. However, if you overdo it with protein bars they could potentially lead to weight gain. Moderation is key. 

It's important to consider the total calorie count of each bar when making your selection. As with any food, you should limit your consumption to a moderate amount. If a protein bar has more than 300 calories, that's probably too much in one sitting. 

It's also important to note that if you are not exercising regularly and/or eating nutritious foods along with your protein bars, they could potentially contribute to weight gain. It's always best to pair your protein bars with other healthy choices like fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins. 

In conclusion, while protein bars can be a nutritious snack when consumed in moderation, it's important to pay attention to the calorie count of each bar and make sure that you are pairing them with other healthy foods as well. Doing so will help ensure that you don't overdo it and gain unwanted weight.

Red Flags to Watch Out For

High sugar content Protein bars are often marketed as low-sugar snacks, but many contain high amounts of added sugars or artificial sweeteners. Check the label to make sure added sugars and other sweeteners are not listed among the ingredients.
Excessive additives Protein bars should be made with natural ingredients, rather than artificial additives, colorings, and preservatives.
Trans fat Trans fats are unhealthy and can increase your risk of chronic diseases. Before buying a protein bar, check the label to make sure it does not contain partially hydrogenated oils or other trans fat sources
Low-quality proteins Some protein bars contain low-quality proteins, such as soy protein isolate or whey protein concentrate. Look for bars with higher quality sources of protein, such as grass-fed whey protein isolate or pea protein isolate.
High in saturated fat Many protein bars contain high amounts of saturated fat, which can raise your risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke. Try to find a bar with no more than 3 grams of saturated fat per serving.
High sodium content Excessive sodium intake can raise your risk of high blood pressure and other health problems, so make sure the protein bar you choose is not loaded with sodium or salt.
Low fiber content Fiber is an important nutrient that helps keep you full and provides numerous health benefits. Make sure your protein bar contains at least 3 grams of fiber per serving.
High-calorie content Many protein bars contain high amounts of calories, which can lead to weight gain if consumed in excess. Check the label to make sure the bar does not have more than 250 calories per serving.

Undoubtedly, these bars are rich in proteins, macronutrients, and other essential ingredients that are typically considered healthy. However, there are a few red flags that you should watch out for. 

Firstly, make sure your protein bar does not make you go beyond your daily calorie limit. The thing is, when you are looking to lose weight, it is typically suggested to keep your calorie intake low (200-400 less than maintenance). This deficiency prompts your body to use the stored energy, which will burn more calories than you consume, eventually leading to weight loss. 

If your protein bar contains loads of calories, which is typical in a bar with a higher protein percentage, ensure that you only eat 1-2 bars a day. 

Secondly, protein is good, but too much of it isn't. There is a good chance that you are grabbing a protein bar as your go-to snack because protein is excellent for weight loss. 

Aside from curbing your appetite, incorporating protein in your diet is a lifesaver as it also helps increase muscle mass and strength, it also helps recover muscles, maintains blood pressure, and more. 

But with good things come some of its side effects as well. For example, recent studies show that the daily protein requirement for a healthy adult who does little exercise is approximately 0.8 grams of protein per kg body weight.

On the other hand, people who engage in minimal, moderate, or intense physical activity should consume 1.0 grams, 1.3 grams, and 1.6 grams of protein per kg of body weight per day, respectively. 

If you exceed this limit, you can face various health issues. Furthermore, high-protein diets may potentially raise the risk of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, particularly in the elderly and the overweight.

To put it simply, if you consume more than the required protein; those 'extra' proteins in your body will start replacing carbs instead of fats, leading to weight gain. 

So the next time you grab a protein bar, ensure its protein content meets your average intake and does not go beyond it. 

How To Choose A Protein Bar That Will Not Make You Fat? 

The first step to getting the most out of a protein bar is to choose the right one. Here are some of the things to check out. 

1. Calories Per Serving

Get the most important thing down by checking out the total calorie of your protein bar. Ideally, experts recommend going for a protein bar with around 200-400 kcal, as it is filling but does not take up half of your daily calorie count. 

2. Protein Content

Not all bars contain sufficient protein; you need to check out the content and type of protein your snack has. Make sure your bar has a high-quality source of protein like milk, whey, eggs, and even plant-based protein. 

Moreover, calculate the amount of protein you need per day and make your choice accordingly. 

3. Fats

Another essential nutrient that you should check out is fats. Again, it is recommended that you know the source of fats, so you don't unknowingly consume unhealthy ingredients. This becomes more important when you are on a keto diet, as it requires you to get a lot of healthy fats while keeping your carbs low. 

4. Fiber

If you want a bar that keeps you full for a longer period of time, then go for the one with a good fiber level, as this curbs your hunger and helps you lose weight. Typically, it is suggested you go for a protein bar with around 3-5 grams of fiber. 

5. Sugar

Make sure your protein bar gets its sweetness from natural sweeteners like stevia, monk fruit, allulose, etc. 

Avoid protein bars with artificial sweeteners or sugar alcohols like sorbitol and maltitol, which cause many health issues like bloating. Moreover, Check out the total sugar content of your bar. Ideally, you should choose something with no more than 5 grams of added sugar. 

6. Preservatives

When it comes to it, it is better to steer clear of any artificial flavors, coloring, etc. These can be added to give your protein bar better taste, but it is as unhealthy as munching on a candy bar. 

It is recommended that you go for a protein bar with simple and clean ingredients that you are aware of and know are the best for you. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Now that you have the answer to whether or not protein bars make you fat, here are some more commonly asked questions that you may find useful. 

Is 1 Protein Bar a Day Good?

Yes, eating 1 protein bar a day is totally fine. Protein bars are packed with nutrients and can be used as quick snacks or even meal replacements. However, more than 2 everyday may not be the best for your overall health due to the amount of sugars, preservatives and unhealthy fats they contain. 

What is the Best Time to Eat Protein Bars?

The best time to eat a protein bar is pre or post-workout. Protein intake just before/after a workout will contribute to muscle repair and growth. Have a protein bar 45 minutes before/after your workout for the best results. 

How Long Does It Take For a Protein Bar to Work?

Generally speaking, it can take anywhere from 15 minutes to 1-2 hours for your body to break down, absorb, and start using the proteins found in most bars. 

Additionally, how quickly you eat the bar can also influence the time it takes for it to kick in. Eating a bar slowly and chewing thoroughly will help your body break down and absorb its nutrients more efficiently than if you were to simply gulp it down. 

Finally, it is essential to remember that everyone's body is different and will therefore react differently to the proteins in a protein bar. Some may experience an immediate surge of energy upon consuming one, while others may take longer for the effects to be felt.

Bottom Line 

So, all in all, protein bars are an excellent source of ingredients that will keep you healthy and thriving. However, protein bars have a lot of calories and sugar, which is a big no-no. 

But, by keeping in mind some of the key rules, there is no chance that protein bars will make you fat. Make sure you do not exceed your calorie or protein intake and be conscious of all that you are consuming.

The Protein Bar Team

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