Can I Eat Protein Bars Without Working Out?


Today you can throw a rock and hit a protein bar. They are everywhere. In this article, I will explain everything there is to know about protein bars and who exactly should eat them.

Can I eat protein bars without working out?

In general, you can eat protein bars without working out. Protein bars can be a perfect mid-day snack in between meals because they contain quality high-protein, plant fiber, vitamins, and minerals which can help you suppress appetite and lower hunger, even when you don’t work out.

However, as with everything else, moderation is the key. And just because something is a good snack alternative, it doesn’t mean it is better than real food.

Is It Bad To Eat A Protein Bar Everyday?

Generally, it is not bad to eat a protein bar every day. Protein bars are widely consumed daily in many commercial areas like sports supplements and lifestyle snacks, as well as in professional areas like space food, military food, and emergency (survival) food. 

Protein bars are becoming more and more popular not only in the sports and athletic community but also around regular people. Even people who are not working out.

People take protein bar with them on:

  • Long-distance driving
  • Traveling
  • Backpacking
  • Hiking
  • Sport events
  • Holiday flights
  • Business meetings
  • Campings

And make no mistake.

Having access to high-quality protein food if you’re out and about is not so easy. I mean you can eat something. But you have zero control over what you will get.

So having a protein bar handy not only make you less stressed about what you can eat if there are not many healthy choices available.

But also comparing to other “snacks” available from seven eleven, protein bar is the right choice.

How Many Protein Bars Can I Eat A Day?

On average, you can eat around 3–4 protein bars per day. Ideally, you want to obtain the majority of your nutrients from whole foods. However, during the times when food is not available (long-distance traveling, business conferences) it is acceptable to consume more protein bars.

This is where it gets tricky.

Because at some point you need to be able to draw line in the sand and make an informed decision that it is ok to use protein bars as snacks, but you should not live on them.

  • If you have an access to real food, choose real food
  • If you have time to cook real food, cook real food
  • If you can make a homemade lunch to take with you, make a homemade lunch

Listen.

I know exactly how it wokrs.

it’s easy to eat a protein bar.

And because they are so delicious, I could easily eat half of the 12 pieces box.

But going overboard isn’t healthy either.

Studies show that over-consuming protein bars and protein shakes can lead to insulin resistance, especially if you’re not doing any resistance training.

Too much accumulation of certain amino acids (valine, isoleucine, tryptophan, and lysine) can increase hepatic gluconeogenesis and increased sugar levels (source).

You don’t want that.

In summary: Use protein bar with moderation and only when you don’t have access to real food.

Related article: Should I Eat The Same Amount Of Protein On Rest Days?

When Is The Best Time To Eat A Protein Bar?

The best time to eat a protein bar is between the meals, or immediately after the workout. Eating a protein bar in between meals can improve satiety, help to control hunger until the next meal. Having a protein bar immediately after a workout helps to facilitate muscular adaptations.

  • Between meals

Use the protein bars as a way to suppress appetite.

Especially if you’re on a calorie deficit. It can feel overwhelmingly hard to deal with the daily challenges when you’re non-stop hungry.

In sales, there is this saying “overcome objection, before it becomes the objection”. This means, if you’re having a hunger craving, it’s probably something that is happening on an ongoing, regular basis.

In other words, it is not a surprise if it happens more often, right?

So if you can anticipate that you’re usually hungry between your lunch and dinner, then have a protein bar between your lunch and dinner.

  • After workout

Ideally, in the perfect world, you want to have a nice big meal after your workout full of protein, veggies, and starchy carbs.

But if the ideal world doesn’t happen as often as it should, go ahead and plug in the protein bar after a workout.

Related article: Can I Eat Carbs On A Calorie Deficit?

Should You Eat Protein Bars At Night?

As a general rule, you can eat a protein bar at night. Consuming a small, nutrient-dense, and low-energy snack before bed can promote positive physiological changes beneficial for muscle protein synthesis. However, consuming the majority of the daily calorie intake at night should be avoided.

Studies shows that front-loading all the calories at night with a huge meal is not what you looking for. After the big meal, all the food is being digested and broken down in the stomach.

This of course, negatively impacts the sleep quality (including REM sleep and stage 2 sleep) (source).

With compromised sleep, there is a big chance for:

  • A negative change in circadian rhythms
  • Higher sugar levels in the morning
  • Lower energy expenditure
  • Higher stress
  • Lower willpower for food selection

On the other hand.

Study shows that post-dinner snacking in the form of protein bar help regulate excess energy intake and contribute to weight loss (source).

When To Eat Protein Bars To Lose Weight?

In general, to lose weight the best time to eat protein bars is between the main meals during the day. Adding a protein bar containing whey protein and plant fiber as a snack replacement can promote satiety and lead to lower total calorie intake.

Is It OK To Eat 2 Protein Bars A Day?

In general, it is ok to eat 2 protein bars a day. Substituting snack foods such as potato chips or chocolate bars with lower glycemic protein bars can increase satiety, improve glucose and insulin profiles and assist in reducing the total energy intake later on during the day.

Conclusion

  • Adding a protein bar to your menu, even when you don’t work out, can help you replace less nutritious foods with high-quality protein
  • Eating a protein bar after your workout can stimulate muscle protein synthesis and enhance post-exercise muscle adaptations (source)
  • Eating protein bar between the meals can lower hunger, improve satiety and lower overall food intake
  • Going overboard with protein bars won’t bring much benefits

Michal Sieroslawski

Michal is an exercise physiologist (MSc), nutrition coach, Ashtanga teacher, and fitness blogger. He shares his successes and failures to help busy men and women squash down 20, 50, or even 100 pounds of fat without leaving their home.

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