Protein Supplements: Bars vs Shakes

The health benefits of Protein supplements, especially for athletes is well documented. In my previous post on diet Supplementation, I discuss how protein helps to increase lean muscle; which in turn assists in weight-loss as a consequence. There are different types of protein each beneficial for a specific need. Equally there are many different products to choose from, which sometimes confuses the consumer. Personally, given that most mainstream products offer pretty much the same nutrients , I tend to favour those which are cost-effective and taste nice – let’s face it, if a Protein Bar or Shake tastes horrid, it will put you off having them.

Added to all this is the decision whether to consume a Protein Bar or Protein Shake. But which is better? Having wondered myself about this in the past, I decided to do a little research. Spoiler alert: Overall, they are much-of-a-muchness, however there are still good reasons to consider one over the other:

The case for Protein Bars

Due to the nature of protein bars, they ‘seem’ a less healthy alternative, but are they really? Although they vary by manufacturer, generally they tend to have a better balance of macronutrients than Protein Shakes, since they include higher quantities of fibre, fat and carbs – but watch out that theydo not have too high levels of the latter. For me, I like the PhD Smart bars (as shown above) because they taste nice and any sugars are low-impact (see article on different types of Sugar).

Besides the nutritional element, protein bars have the added benefit of convenience. Being packaged and ready to eat, they are easy to store and eat on the go. With a bar you can be sure of the quantities also.

Personally I use Protein Bars as a convenient snack during the day; helping toward my daily protein needs. I find them more satisfying to eat than drinking a shake, due to the chewing affect.

The case for Protein Shakes

The ‘traditional’ way to get extra protein in your diet is via a Shake (a.k.a. Protein Powder). Often added to Milk or Water, they are a more cost effective way to consume your daily quota; allowing flexibility to vary how much in each sitting. Absorption of Shakes tends to be quicker into the blood stream than bars due to being in liquid form, even if they are feel less satisfying.

Where they lose out in convenience over a Protein Bar, they are win on versatility. Unlike bars, they tend to be available in isolate form (such as Whey or Casinate) making them more goal specific. Also, being powder they can be easily added to other foods such as pancakes, breakfast cereals or biscuits.

For a review of the best Protein shakes whether you are looking for lean muscle or looking to build – see this article which gives a good overview of the different types available.


As you can see, there is no clear ‘winner’ in the argument for Bar or Shake, each has its place in your quest for the optimal protein consumption. Protein Shakes are a more precise protein delivery, whereas Protein Bars are more convenient. For us busy lifestylers, the Bars are essential part of the daily routine to make sure we get the necessary protein we need, whether it is for gain or to retain the lean muscle we desire.

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