When it boils down to the bottom line, there are only a few reasons for buying protein bars. One, you want to improve your personal fitness (by gaining muscle and/or losing fat), two, you want to grab something healthy to eat because you’re in a hurry and hungry, or last, you think it will look cool to have high-intensity fitness food in your gym bag. Hopefully the last reason is not you and you realize that there are benefits of eating healthy beyond just looking “cool” like others at the gym. But is the protein bar the best protein supplement for you, or should you switch to shakes? Perhaps you should even consider no longer taking supplements at all.
The first thing you should think about when considering a change in your diet is what your current goals are. Perhaps they aren’t the same as when you first started working out. Are you still trying to gain muscle, lose fat, or both? Are you looking to maintain a healthy body weight, yet still working out? You may still be eating protein bars because you are, like most people, a creature of habit. It is easy to go to a place like GNC and stock up on bars to keep at home, in your gym bag and at work. It may be time for a change depending on what your fitness goals are.
For example, your goals at first may have been to simply maintain a decent physique without making any big changes to your body. You just wanted to be healthy. But now, after working out at the gym twice a week for a few months, you like how it feels to be in better shape. You like the burn that comes after a good pump. You want to do more and you want to look and feel even better.
If this is true, protein bars probably aren’t the best possible protein supplement for you. They typically aren’t as dense as protein shakes are, and also contain more ingredients such as fibers and fats that slow down your body’s absorption process — exactly what you want to avoid if you’re to make the most of that magic hour after working out. The best protein supplement for you will be protein shakes.
However, if your goal is to maintain after some intense months of working your way down to a healthy weight, then a protein bar may be just what you need to fuel your energy needs for the day. If you work out in the morning, and then head off to work, a protein bar can give you the energy you need to make it to mid morning, or you may even want your bar at mid morning to give you a high protein snack.
So if you want to make big changes and leap ahead of your previous goals, you should probably switch to shakes. But if you’re happy where you’re at and prefer the convenience of protein bars, by all means, keep going strong with your current diet. And kudos to you for making a healthy eating and fitness lifestyle change!