Best answer: Yes! Consuming a protein bar before you work out is beneficial for sustained energy, muscle growth (anabolic response), increasing muscle performance, and supporting muscle recovery.
Things to consider
There are a few things to consider before reaching for that protein bar before your workout. It is essential to read the nutrition label to get the facts on what exactly you're putting into your body, how much of it, and how it might affect the workout you're trying to accomplish.
Carbohydrates are your body's preferred source of energy and fuel. You'll want to check out the nutrition label on your protein bar so you can determine if that bar will provide you with the carbs you need to fuel your workout. If you're gearing up for a longer training session, pick a bar with a higher carbohydrate content. More carbs = sustained energy over longer periods of time. Consume these carbs about 1-2 hours before you train so your body has enough time to process the nutrients to fuel your routine. This insures that your blood sugar and glycogen levels are optimized and raring to go!
Muscle building blocks
Protein translates quite literally to the building blocks of muscle, so it's important to consider what type of protein you're getting in your protein bar. These are the 7 most common protein types you'll find:
Whey isolates are absorbed by the body very quickly, which makes them perfect for body builders or people trying to bulk up or build muscle in their workouts. They yield a very high percentage (min. 90%) of pure protein.
Whey concentrate is another form of whey protein and is the most common form of protein in protein bars and supplements. It helps build muscle, supports muscle recovery, and helps maintain muscle while working out in order to burn fat. It does not yield as high of a percentage of pure protein (like whey isolate) which puts it at a lower price point, but you can reap the same benefits of consuming whey isolate if you consume whey concentrate in higher quantities.
Hydrolysate protein is the highest quality of protein on the market. It is enzymatically predigested for maximal speed of absorption. It's very easy to digest and feeds your muscles with nutrients instantly so it's the best option to fuel your routine before a workout!
Casein protein is digested very slowly, which is beneficial if you want to stay fuller longer. This would be another good protein option before a workout because it slowly feeds your muscles over time. So, if you're planning on a longer cardio or training session, this is your best bet! Casein protein is also high in glutamine which will help your body recover faster and it will also boost your immune system.
This is the go-to protein source for vegetarians & vegans! Soy protein is loaded with glutamine and BCAAs (Branched-Chain Amino Acids) and is the obvious choice if you're on a strictly plant based diet and trying to fuel your workout.
Milk protein isolates are loaded with amino acids and consist of both whey and casein proteins. It is typically found in protein blends.
Egg Albumin was a common protein source before protein powders existed. This protein is rich in amino acids and is used in many protein blends and meal replacement products.
Calories are quite literally "units of energy" and you need them if you want to keep your body moving and grooving. You can track your calories with these great iPhone apps: Best Calorie Counter & Diet Apps for iPhone. Are you trying to fuel a 30-minute workout or a 2+ hour training session? If a short workout is on the agenda, choose a protein bar with a lower calorie content since you don't need the excess calories to fuel your regimen. If you're trying to fuel a longer training session, pick a bar with a higher calorie content so you feel energized and sustained throughout your entire workout.
In A Nutshell
Consuming a protein bar before you workout is a great idea! Just make sure to check the nutrition label so you can train assured that you're fueling your body with the best protein bar for the workout you're trying to accomplish! Now get out there and protein your routine, happy training!
High Protein, Low Carb
With 21g of protein, 5g of carbohydrate, and 1g of sugar, Quest bars are a great choice for those trying to fuel their workout with protein rather than carbs! Think Quest if you're doing a short, strength training workout. There's also no added sugar in these bars which is a wonderful bonus!
Low Cal, Great Taste
The award-winning FITCRUNCH® Baked Bar was created by co-founder & celebrity chef (Robert Irvine), providing you with top-quality nutrition and an unmatched taste. With only 190 calories, 16g of protein and 3g of sugar, FITCRUNCH® fits the bill for a great tasting, low cal option!
1:1 Protein to Carb Ratio
This Signature Protein Crunch Bar meets your macros, satisfies your sweet tooth, and hey, it's gluten free! It packs a mean punch with 20g of whey protein, 20g of carbohydrate, and 5g of fiber; and with only 5g of sugar, it makes a great meal replacement too!
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