Will Eating Protein Bars Build Muscle?

To build a significant muscle mass you need an adequate protein intake and supplementing with protein bars may just do the trick. In this article I will explain everything there is to know how to build muscle with p

Will eating protein bars build muscle?

In general, eating protein bars will build muscle. Whey protein, the main ingredient in the protein bars is derived from the same sources as protein powder. Combination of resistance training with sufficient amino acids helps with optimum muscle protein synthesis and hypertrophy.

However, you may not look like a peak Wolverine all year round if you just eat protein bars. More on that later.

Are Protein Bars Good For Building Muscle?

Generally, protein bars are good for building muscle. The average high-quality protein bar contains 20–40 grams of whey protein which is similar to 1–2 servings of a protein shake. This is enough to transfer amino acids into skeletal muscle and activate muscle protein synthesis.

Majority of protein bars are coming form the same source. Dairy.

Which appears to be absorbed faster, and stimulate a faster muscle protein synthesis response, comparing to pea or beef protein.

Having said that, you want to use protein bars as the addition to your diet, not as a staple food.

Majority of your protein should come from the real food. Protein bars should be consumed;

  • When food is not available (traveling, hiking, commuting, busy day at work)
  • Between meals as an appetite suppressant

It will also depend on your training program and current diet model.

If you’re in a calorie deficit, then you will need significantly more proteins to maintain this Hugh Jackman look and offset any potential loss of lean body mass (source)

Do Protein Bars Work As Well As Shakes?

Overall, protein bars work as well as shakes because they are derived from the same protein powder. Protein shakes may be more suitable for intra-workout consumption because they don’t trigger digestion. Protein bars may be more suitable for snacks as they increase satiety better because of fiber content.

Here are the key aspects of taking proteins to build muscle:

  • Consuming protein as a “post-exercise” window makes no difference in body composition as long as total daily protein intake is adequate (source).
  • Consuming protein as a peri-workout (during the actual resistance training) enhanced recovery, reduces delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), and can increase training load (source).

This means for best results you need to:

  • Consume adequate daily protein (from food, shakes, or protein bars)
  • Consume a fast-absorption protein drink during workout time (from protein shakes)

Why you cannot eat protein bar during the workout?

Because during resistance training you have activated sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight mode) that is:

  • Pushing the blood into your muscles
  • Release epinephrine from adrenal glands
  • Increase heart rate
  • Increase muscle vasodilation

In other words, you are ready to perform a good wokrout.


When you eat something, doesn’t matter if it’s a steak, sandwich or protein bar, your digestion kicks in:

  • The blood flow into your stomach and your gut to start to break down the food
  • The heart rate slows down
  • Makes you calm and relaxed (even sleepy)

So once you start to eat during the training time, it’s game over. Your body switches into “rest and digest” mode.

In summary: The best time to have a protein bar is around workout time, but not during working out. During the training is better to drink a protein shake.

Is It Bad To Eat 4 Protein Bars In One Day?

In general, it is not bad to eat 4 protein bars in one day. Physically active people, as well as regular consumers, can eat protein bars as a substitute from commercial snacks available in convenience stores. Because they have high-protein and high-fiber they help to increase satiety.

Also, protein bars are widely used in other, non-commercial uses like in:

  • Military foods
  • Survival foods
  • Space foods
  • Expedition foods

As a general rule, as long as you have no access to real food it is ok to consume even 4 protein bars per day. However, just because it is easy to eat, it doesn’t mean you should live on them.

Related article: Do Protein Bars Make You Fat?

What Is The Best Protein Bar For Muscle Gain?

In general, all of the protein bars are good for muscle gain. When choosing protein bars, you should more lookout for taste preferences than anything else. Some labels can be deceiving with the marketing message like “the best protein source” or “100% protein”.

The supplement industry isn’t regulated. This means manufacturers can literally plug in whatever they want labels to make us buy stuff.


  • Protein bars work as well as protein shakes to build and maintain muscle mass
  • The best time to eat protein bars to build muscle is around workout time and between the meals
  • The best time to consume protein shakes is during the workout
  • Protein bars are great way to add extra proteins and lower the appetite during the day

Michal Sieroslawski

Michal is an exercise physiologist (MSc) and a veteran endurance athlete. He loves to experiment and share his successes and failures to help busy men and women who want to lose weight.

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