Should you eat a protein bar before or after a workout?

protein bar pre workout

Protein bars. The ultimate on-the-go snack to help keep those energy levels topped up and stave off hunger. But the question is this – should you eat them to give you an extra boost before a workout, or save them for afterward, when your muscles might need a bit of a post-workout protein boost and need a bit of a recovery-starting protein hit in their anabolic state? Read on to find out. 

Are protein bars good for pre-workout?

Consuming protein anytime around a workout is considered a good thing. Your body requires anywhere between 0.8g and 2.2g protein per kilogram of body weight per day, spread throughout the day. This means they are good to eat at any time of the day [1]. 

The timing of eating a certain source of protein is less important than making sure you get enough total protein throughout the day – and protein bars can certainly be useful for that. So yes, protein bars are good for pre-workout. In particular, protein bars that also contain some carbohydrates can give you a much-needed glucose boost to help fuel your workout [2]. 

How long before a workout should you eat a protein bar?

That’s entirely up to you. As we’ve mentioned, when you eat your protein is far less important than making sure your total amount of protein consumed throughout the day is optimal [3]. 

If you want to avoid that sluggish feeling you may experience after food, you could wait an hour or two before working out – that’ll give you enough time to digest and absorb all the macro and micronutrients. But if time is short, and you can stomach working out straight after eating, it’s absolutely fine to do so. You do you.

Should you eat a protein bar post-workout?

It’s not a case of should, but could. It’s well known and well established that consuming protein post-workout is beneficial for gaining muscle mass and aiding recovery. Munching down a protein bar post-workout will likely deliver between 20 and 25 grams of protein, as discussed in a previous article about how much protein your body can absorb. Protein is digested and broken down into amino acids, which your body absorbs and uses for all sorts of functions, including muscle protein synthesis [4].

As we discussed how much protein can your body absorb, our bodies can only take in around 25g of protein in a 1-2 hour period. This is the optimal amount for our bodies to use for muscle growth. Protein bars tend to be around the 20-25g mark, so they are a convenient alternative to a protein shake. Many people like to keep one in their bag as a backup, in case they don’t have time to prepare a shake.

Should you eat a protein bar before and after a workout?

In theory, of course you can. It may feel a little monotonous though, even if you’re mixing up the flavours. It’s definitely beneficial to consume protein before and after a workout, because as we know, it’s important to spread your protein intake throughout the day. Add some variety to your life. Combine your protein bars and protein supplements with wholefoods.  Chicken, tofu and nuts are great natural sources of protein.  

Is it okay to eat a protein bar every day?

Yes, there’s no definitive reason why you shouldn’t. But there are a few things to consider here. Firstly, the macros of different protein bars will vary. Some might have more carbs, and some might have more fat. If you’re looking for a certain macro split, make sure you check whether the bar you’ve chosen fits your macros. 

Secondly, many protein bars contain artificial sweeteners, which might limit how many of them you can eat. Some sweeteners, like xylitol, can cause certain gut issues if you eat too many of them (without going into too much detail here). Sweeteners can also impact your gut microbial health if eaten in excess [5]. So while it’s fine to have one or two every day, you might not want to be piling up the wrappers with more than that. 

Thirdly, you’re better off considering how protein bars fit into your overall diet. If you’re getting a good mix of protein sources, primarily from wholefoods, it’s not unreasonable to add a protein bar in there each day. Just don’t rely on them for your entire protein intake. Wholefoods from a variety of sources are the best way to ensure you’re getting a full spread of amino acids and micronutrients. Supplements and protein bars are intended to support this.

Where can you buy protein bars?

Our MACRO MUNCH™ Protein Bar is triple layered, soft baked, low sugar and packed with 20 grams protein. What’s more, we’ve released two delicious new nutty flavours – Chocolate Hazelnut and White Chocolate Pistachio. Unlike many protein bars on the market, they’re also vegetarian-friendly. 

If you’re on a completely plant-based diet or trying to be more flexitarian, we’ve also got a great selection of vegan protein bars in delicious flavours like Cookies and Cream and Dark Chocolate Salted Caramel. Pick one up and keep it in your bag. Whether it’s the breakfast rush, afternoon snack or fail-safe, post-workout protein hit, you never know when you might need one.

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