Intro – Protein shake vs protein bar for weight loss
We know protein is important for weight loss. It stops us losing muscle. It means any weight lose is fat. When it comes to supplements there’s some debate between the protein shake vs protein bar.
Getting enough protein can be a tough ordeal. There’s no question the convenience of bars and shakes makes life easier. Instead of having to go through the effort of having to cook a meal, get out the utensils and clean up. You can get your protein hit, in the matter of seconds.
So if you’re wondering which is better, this article is for you.
Protein shakes – (Protein shake vs protein bar)
Protein shakes are the pioneers of the supplement game. They have been around for many years. I must say I am a massive fan, they have played a roll in my fat loss. I definitely would have struggled to get enough protein in my diet, when I started if it weren’t for protein shakes.
Advantages of protein shakes
When it comes to the battle of the protein shake vs protein bar, there are clear advantages for shakes.
The majority of protein shakes are made with Whey protein powder. Gram for gram, Whey is the cheapest source of protein on the market. Protein rich foods, such as meat and fish can be pricey. So if you are on a budget and trying to sustain a high protein diet, protein powder is a great investment.
Compared to protein bars, protein shakes have a lot less calories and more protein. A 30g scoop of whey protein has 25g of protein and 120 calories. Which makes it one of the most protein dense foods going, alongside chicken breast and prawns.
Great amino acid composition
Whey protein powder is a complete protein. It has all the amino acids needed for muscle growth. Whey protein is rich in Leucine, which is the main amino acid needed for muscle growth. Leucine is like the light switch of muscle building. For the process to happen, enough Leucine needs to be consumed to kickstart the process.
Protein powder is the most bioavailable source of protein out there. That means nearly all the protein consumed gets absorbed and used. This means out of all the source of protein you can consume, this’ll give you the greatest bang for your buck.
On it’s own it’s not the most nutritious thing in the world. But it’s powder, that means it can used in many things. You can blend some milk, fruits, veggies and nut butter and have a well balanced fibrous drink. It also mixes well with porridge to boost the protein content. Or if you like it basic, mixed with water and it will give you that protein hit.
My personal favourite flavour is vanilla. Vanilla tastes amazing and can be mixed with anything and still taste good. In fact when I have it with porridge, I use it more as a flavouring than a protein booster. But yeah, as time has moved forward these companies have done a great job on making them taste good.
It might just be me. But I find them filling. Usually liquids aren’t at all filling. But sometimes during a need of hunger, a scoop of powder, shaken with some milk and water hits the spot for me.
It’s powder. It aint going bad anytime soon. It can last for years. Unlike chicken or fish etc.
My freezer is filled to the brim with chicken and fish. For the same amount of protein, my powder takes minimal space in one of my cupboards.
As amazing as protein shakes are, they do have their downfalls too.
Not nutritionally dense
Protein shakes are mostly protein, not much else. This means they do tend to lack a lot of other nutrients. So they might not be the best choice as a meal replacement. But, if you combine it with fruits, veg, some milk and some healthy fat, that completely changes things.
If you’re like me and forget to wash it after a few days, you’ll be in for a sweet surprise. Im yet to find anything that smells worse.
There aren’t many downsides to protein powders. Some people will talk about the sweeteners and additives. But they are all deemed as safe and should be the least of your worries. People still drink, smoke and take other kinds of substances. That’s where we need to be focusing our concerns.
Protein bars – (Protein shake vs protein bar)
Protein bars are a little more new to the game. I remember trying my first ever protein bar, it was revolting. I must say these days, they taste so much better. Like protein shakes, protein bars come with their pros and cons.
Now protein bars have improve, they do have many benefits.
For lunch instead of a chocolate bar, you can swap that for a protein bar. You’ll have the same calories, but with 20g of added protein instead. For minimal effort, you’ve boosted your protein intake.
Ease of use
When out, or at work. Making a protein shake and carrying the bottle around may be bit of a hassle. But you can always keep a bar handy at any time and any place.
Might be me. But the taste and flavours available now are amazing. Whether you want birthday cake flavour, peanut butter caramel, they’re there. Im not going to pretend they taste as good as chocolate, they don’t. But for what they are, they’re good.
As well as protein, protein bars come with carbohydrates and a little fat and a good amount of fibre. This may help with training and other things.
Disadvantages of protein bars
Compared to protein powder, protein bars do have their cons.
Protein bars are expensive. Most bars cost £2.50 each, whereas a standard chocolate bar will cost around 60p. So the average protein bar costs 4x as much. For the exact same protein and calories, you could buy a 1 pint bottle of skimmed milk, for 50p.
Lets be honest for 230 calories, 20g of protein isn’t amazing. Some say protein bars are a glorified chocolate bar. If you’re protein goal is 130g of protein a day for example. And your calorie goal is 1800, a protein bar might not be your best choice. Still better than a chocolate bar, but still not amazing.
Not all bars are created equally
A good bar will use whey protein as its main source of protein. Some bars unfortunately use collagen. Collagen is cheaper source of protein. It has a poor amino acid profile, meaning you don’t get the benefits you would from consuming whey protein. Check the ingredients, if it has whey and no collagen, you have a good bar. Otherwise don’t waste your money.
Final thoughts on the protein shake vs protein bar for weight loss
Usually I end my discussion with an “it depends”. But for this, if I was only allowed to use one of the 2. It would definitely be protein shakes.
When it comes to weight loss, I want to keep my calories low and my protein as high as possible. Having shakes allows me to do that. I get more control.
I understand some might say, I’m missing out on other nutrients. But it’s not that difficult to combine my shake with other nutritious foods.
Thankfully we live in a world of choice. So I will be using both and enjoying both.
Josh is a Registered Associate Nutritionist, with the Association for Nutrition (AFN). He completed his degree in Nutrition at the University of Roehampton in 2021. He passed with a First Class with Honours.
Josh is also a tutor for up-and-coming Personal Trainers, where he teaches a Level 4 Advanced Nutrition course. This is for Personal Trainers looking to upskill their nutrition knowledge. This is done at Norfolk Health & Fitness.