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Protein Bars vs Shakes (2023 Updated) Which One is better?

Connor Sellers
Published by Connor Sellers | Senior Coach
Last updated: August 6, 2023
We personally test every product featured in our reviews and guides. By ordering products anonymously and getting a group of independent testers, we are able to get first-hand experience and provide data-driven recommendations. Learn more.

You hear it all the time; “Protein is important”. It’s true, but it can get overwhelming to figure out how to get enough protein in your food.

Luckily, there are many protein supplements or products like protein ​shake and protein bars to help you reach your ​every day goals.

But which one of them is ​more suited for you? For your convenience, I took a look into which is ​best for your protein intake needs and overall nutrition.

Which Is a Better Source for Protein?

proteing powder

Protein powder is a better source for people who are looking to form and build muscles. A protein shake contains ​way more amino acids which help you gain muscle mass and recover faster from a workout.

​A protein bar might be ideal for those looking to lose fat. If you are on a reduced-calorie diet, then you are probably taking extra care to ensure you get all your nutrients within your smaller meals each day.

It can help you get enough protein and other healthy nutrients to keep your nutrition optimal without the body storing any excess. Excess protein is stored as fat which could lead to weight gain.

Which Has Better Nutrition?

chocolate bar

​A protein bar​ has better nutrition compared to a protein ​shake. Let’s break down how a protein bar​ and protein powder ​differs in nutritional value.

Protein Bars

If you need a quick and easy snack, a protein bar ​is readily available anytime with no elaborate prep. Plus, most bars have a variety of flavors available, so you can have a different one for every snack. Check out some of the best meal replacement bars here.

I’ve noticed that food products like protein bars usually ​come high in carbohydrates, which ​​can be ​used by the body for recovery and repair after a fitness workout. It also can have other healthy nutrients like vitamins B6, C, E, and B12.

The biggest issue I’ve seen with protein bars is it can have a lot of added sugar and calories.

Some of them can even have the same or more amount of sugar as candy bars. There isn’t as much sugar or calories in liquid protein shakes compared to protein bars.

Fortunately, there are diabetic meal replacement bars and diabetes friendly-protein shakes with controlled sugar and calorie content.

I would take the time to read the label of protein bars and ensure that the ingredients are good for you.

It’s...a good idea to look for a short ingredients list to ensure your bar is minimally processed.

- Ericka Stachura

Protein Powder

proteing powder

If you want the most protein​ in one snack or meal, then protein powder might be your bet.

​A protein shake can have 20-30 grams of protein per serving. Compared to protein bars which are usually 10-15 grams of protein per serving, protein shakes are easily the winner, especially if you're looking to boost your energy for a gym session.

​A disappointment with protein powders and shakes is that it doesn’t give you other vitamins and essential minerals that you can get from eating foods. However, a healthy quick fix for that lack of nutrition would be making protein shakes with fruit and milk.

Which Works Best for Weight Loss?

Protein bars (with generally ​high carbs content) work best for weight loss because they give your stomach the impression that you have eaten. One study confirmed that ​eating ​solid and whole food can make you feel fuller than protein shakes. [1]

However, both protein bars and protein powders can ​assist with weight loss if you use them properly.

Which Is Better for Muscle Gain?

muscle gain

Protein powder ​is better for muscle gain. Most of the time, protein shakes contain all nine essential amino acids that are crucial to fuel your fitness.

​These amino acids can ​work to form and build muscles and recover from a fitness routine.

​They also contain way more protein amounts compared to most protein bars.

Unfortunately, not all of them have excellent results so is better to check our comparison guide for protein powders in order to make a wise decision.

When Should I Take Protein?

You should take protein bars in between meals if you are looking to lose weight. If you want to gain muscles and recover from your fitness routine, take protein shakes within two hours of working out for the best results. [2]

Protein Powders Reviewed:

Protein Powder vs Protein Bar: The Winner Is?

There’s no clear cut answer on which protein supplement ​fits you. ​As I always do, I encourage you to ​search for and find the product ​that is healthier for you.

Whichever you think is ​an ideal nutrition source according to your personal health goal, then go for it and see how it contributes to your diet.

Overall though, I think a protein bar ​is ​more suited ​if your goal is ​to lose ​some pounds. It's a healthy way to help you stay full during the day since it contains more carbohydrates, and may also help you ​acquire enough protein on a reduced-calorie diet or meal.

Protein powders are better than protein bars for people who​se dietary goal is to gain muscle. Protein shakes have ​way more protein amounts ​for every serving. If you give it a go, it will definitely help you get enough protein to build muscle strength. You might want to see our list protein powder for muscle gain.

There are different protein sources available and it can be challenging to pick the best one. Ultimately, the question should be, "Which one do you think is best for you?"

Would you rather eat a protein bar or gulp a shake? Go for what you think is best for your body, and let us know in the comments ​which one you like more.


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