We’ve previously taken a deep dive into low-carb protein bars and how you can differentiate between the carbs that will not get digested and those that will spike your blood glucose. If you’re interested in taking a look at it, check out our low-carb protein bars video!
Today, we’re going to be talking about high protein bars, and how you can differentiate between ones that will actually help you build muscles and those that are better for times when you’re just trying to get your daily dose of protein and not worrying about putting on muscle.
If you take a look at the back label of a protein bar and it says there are 22-23g of protein in the bar, it probably sounds like a steal. Why wouldn’t you eat a protein bar that would be a huge step toward getting your daily protein intake for building muscle?
However, if you’ve tried that before, you may have had the experience of eating several of these protein bars only to have intense stomach pain and maybe even spend most of the day in the toilet instead of in the weight room.
What Is a High-Quality Protein?
There are actually multiple protein sources in a protein bar, and not all proteins are created equal. What you need to look for when you check the back label of a protein bar is whether or not the bar contains quality protein sources.
Egg protein, whey protein, casein and other milk-based proteins are considered high quality, or what we call complete proteins. The thing is, most bars don’t have them in their ingredients, and as a result, they don’t actually help shuttle nutrients into the muscle.
For instance, if you look at granola bars that advertise as being high protein, you’ll most likely find out that none of the protein sources listed are from the proteins we mentioned above. Instead, you’ll probably find soy protein sources.
Granted, soy protein has multiple benefits. However, none of them is to make you gain muscle and optimize fat loss.
Recommendations for High-Protein Bars
Some rules of thumb to keep in mind: the first protein listed on the back label is what makes up the largest portion of the protein in the bar. That’s important because some bars actually combine several protein sources, such as soy and whey.
So if the bar claims to give you 30g of protein, look at the back. If the first ingredient says soy, you can take it if you’re not planning on gaining muscles. Because it’s not going to be the ideal protein for your workouts.
However, if the back lists the protein sources like whey, followed by casein and/or soy, then it might be a good choice for your workout needs. And actually, you don’t really want highly specialized protein source bars, as that won’t give you many benefits.
Studies have shown that a mixture of protein sources is good for muscle growth as long as the soy is the lowest ingredient. Ideally, of course, you’d want your protein sources to be one or more of the complete proteins we mentioned above.
That’s because the quality protein sources mentioned above contain high amounts of essential amino acids (EAAs), which is why they’re considered complete proteins. These types of proteins help you gain muscle and lose fat at a higher rate than soy protein, and are also a lot better for your stomach.
We hope this article helps you decide which high protein bar to pick next when you’re browsing the store for that bar that’ll give you the pump you need for your lifting session. We’re always here to make sure you can smoothly clear any hurdles you run into on your bodybuilding journey.