Do I Need To Eat Protein Bars?
When embarking on a new fitness journey we can often be left with more questions than answers. Not only are we looking for the right exercise programme, but we know that if we want to improve our overall health and wellbeing, nutrition comes hand in hand with movement. We start paying attention to our macros, and if other gym-goers are drinking protein shakes or eating protein bars it’s natural to wonder if we should be too.
So, we thought we’d share our thoughts.
What Are Protein Bars?
Protein bars are everywhere – you’ll find them in gym cafes, supermarkets and even petrol stations. There are a number of brands and recipes on the market, and many argue that protein bars are the healthiest version of a sweet “fix.”
Some brands suggest the bars can be used as a meal replacement, or a great snack between meals.
The very premise of protein bars is noble – it provides a way to increase your protein intake, but are they a necessary addition to your diet?
The Importance of Protein
Protein provides the building blocks for the body. When we ingest a type of protein, we break it down and then our livers rearrange it into new proteins and send them off throughout our body to carry out new jobs. We have skin proteins, ligament proteins, immune cell proteins and of course, the ones we are more familiar with, muscle proteins. Without sufficient protein, cells in our body can’t function effectively. This is why low protein intake is associated with muscle wastage, poor immune function, brittle nails, hair breakage and more!
We all need to prioritise protein intake, and how much depends on our activity or body demands.
If we are sedentary, around 0.8-1g of protein per kilogram of body weight is sufficient, but for active individuals, the sweet spot is around 1.2-1.6g of protein per kilogram of body weight.
So, if you weigh 65kg and we work it on the baseline of 1.2g of protein per kilogram of bodyweight, you would be looking to eat around 78g of protein per day.
A daily protein intake may look like this:
Chicken breast – 31g
Turkey steak – 29g
2 eggs – 12g
50g greek yoghurt – 5g
This would total 77g protein.
How Do I Know If I’m Eating Enough Protein?
You will start to notice things like poor skin and hair condition. You may feel hungry between meals and snack regularly. You may feel tired or lethargic or you may not recover or heal well. You may also find you struggle with your mood. As you can see there are many functions in the body that protein is crucial for, not just building muscle!
If you don’t think you are eating enough protein, we would advocate a wholefood approach first – so look at how you can increase protein at mealtimes or opt for high protein snacks.
But, if protein needs are high and you are struggling to hit your target, then protein bars (and shakes) can be a way to increase overall intake.
Things to Consider
Not all protein bars are equal. You may find that some contain colossal levels of sugar and salt. They may also contain high levels of saturated fat. Whilst they may increase your protein intake, these products could be hampering your attempts at improved health due to the other ingredients they contain.
You may decide that making your own protein snacks is more cost effective, tastier and you’ll also know exactly what’s going in.
Check out one of our recipes below:
We can’t deny that prioritising protein intake is important for overall health, but we would advocate a food-first approach. If you are still struggling to hit your protein target, protein shakes or bars can be a beneficial way to increase your intake, but be mindful of the other ingredients contained and whether they may be hampering your health goals.