I don’t recommend clients to take protein supplements as meal replacement, but as a personal trainer I do need to explain to clients about eating protein bars and shakes for muscle building as well as to increase the effectiveness of the exercises that they do.

As much as possible, please eat organic and food that contain protein instead of supplements.

How much should we take them?

How much?

Athletic people would definitely need to take more proteins than normal. Research has shown they can take up to 1.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, per day.


Cynthia Sass, a board certified expert in sports nutrition and spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association states that one should ingest protein within 2 hours of exercising as proteins are used for tissue repair and maintenance.

Every bar is different and therefore they contain different high levels of fat, proteins, carbohydrates and sugar. Athletes are given a boost when they take the bars and shakes. Weightlifters as the high-protein intake also meant building muscle and losing fats during training. Protein bars are also known as “diet” bars due to the fact they have the least amount of calories and more carbohydrates than proteins.  Those dieting will replace a meal for a bar or eat it as a healthy snack pre- or post-workout.

A research study supported by Slim Fast Corporation shows that meal and snack replacements were effective tools in promoting weight loss amongst 100 obese subjects and concluded that structure is the key to promote behavioural change. The usage of prepackaged food assist in sticking to a more structured eating plan and subjects comply with a specific dietary regimen. However, is this healthy?

No published research has indicated that we should swap our meals for an energy bar. Nutritionists worry that we would rely too much on protein bars, it would lead to unhealthy eating. “In the long run, they are not a healthy substitute for whole foods” stated sports nutritionist Liz Applegate. Most protein bars and shakes contain vitamins and minerals similar to whole food but the difference is that the body absorb vitamins and minerals much better in whole food.

By eating bars and shakes, you would lose the pleasurable aspects of food such as the sight, taste, smell and feel.  Only real food can bring the sensory pleasures of eating. Always read the label carefully as many are packed with sugar and therefore may not be what you are looking for.

Furthermore, do not eat too much of these protein bars and shakes as you might end up packing the pounds. I would encourage you to have both the bars as well as whole foods in your diet. When you are able to sit down, enjoy eating your whole food and when you are rushing, grab the protein bar and be on your way.

Sharm, MSc

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