Eating Protein Bars: Does It Help With Weight Loss?

Photo credit: Bigstockphoto
Photo credit: Bigstockphoto

Eating protein bars is popular among athletes as a quick meal or a snack before heading off to the gym. One reason so many active people choose protein bars over other snacks is because the high protein helps to suppress the appetite – and eliminate the gnawing hunger that sends them to the refrigerator for a bite to eat. Is eating protein bars a good way to control appetite?

Is Eating Protein Bars a Good Way to Control Appetite?

Eating protein bars is an effective way to reduce hunger; but eating any kind of protein keeps hunger at bay longer than eating a high carb snack. When you snack on protein, it causes release of hormones such as CCK and GLP-1 that send feedback to the brain that you’re full and it’s time to stop eating. One amino acid called leucine also increases the production of leptin – the “satiety” hormone that tells the brain to stop asking for more food. Studies show that whey protein, which comes from milk, is one of the most effective appetite suppressants – which is why it’s found in many commercial protein bars.

Are Other Types of Protein Just as Good?

Eating protein of any type is likely to leave you more satisfied than eating a bag of potato chips or a cookie and will have less of an impact on blood sugar levels. Some protein bars are also high in fiber which slows down the time it takes food to move through the intestines which increases satiety. On the other hand, you can get a similar effect by eating tuna fish on whole grain bread which is a good source of lean protein and fiber.

Eating protein bars is an effective way to reduce the risk of overeating – as long as you choose them wisely. Many protein bars are high in calories and may be too high in sugar and fat. Some even contain hydrogenated oils. These high protein bars are designed for bodybuilders who easily burn off the excess calories.

Unless you plan on doing some pretty intense exercise, other lower calorie forms of protein may be a better choice – such as egg whites, tuna packed in water, or cottage cheese. These foods also suppress appetite by causing release of the same gut hormones that protein bars do. Keep in mind that most people get more than enough protein in their diet, so if you use a protein bar as a snack, eat less protein for dinner so you don’t end up getting too much.

The Bottom Line?

Eating protein bars helps to suppress appetite, but other proteins do too and some contain less calories, sugar, and fat. Choose them wisely.

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