Protein bars are popular as a healthy alternative to candy. The question always pops up: do protein bars make you gain weight?
If you’re a skinny guy trying to gain weight, the answer is important. Today we’re going to answer that question, as well as discussing how to shop for a good protein bar, and answering other burning questions about protein bars and weight gain.
Let’s get the most important one out of the way first…
Do Protein Bars Make You Gain Weight?
No – protein bars won’t make you gain weight by themselves, but they can help you with a weight gain diet. They offer easy calories and protein, which are the 2 most important factors in driving up your muscle growth and weight gain results.
Simply adding a protein bar to your diet is not likely to cause weight gain by itself. Protein bars that are built for weight gain can help even more, but the average protein bar is just a way of increasing your daily protein intake.
While this supports muscle growth and reduces fat gain, it won’t be likely to turn a calorie deficit into a calorie surplus.
The average protein bar may only be 150-250 calories, which isn’t going to be enough to drive up weight gain by itself.
Why Are Protein Bars Helpful For Weight Gain?
First, while they’re not high in calories all the time, protein bars do contain easy and convenient calories and protein. They can be used to add “free” calories if you add them to your diet – and don’t replace or reduce anything else. For example, a post-workout protein bar may be an easy way to add a little more food into your diet.
The protein intake is the main benefit, where they typically add 20-30g of protein, which can be a major bump to most people’s diets.
Without taking up much of your appetite, they can be an easy boost – but they’re not going to have the same effect as a whole meal.
Pre and Post-Workout Protein Bars for Weight Gain
The main benefit of protein bars to your weight gain is better weight gain quality. This means more muscle gains and less fat gain. This is the result of eating more protein in general, especially when consumed as a pre- or post-workout snack.
These are the most nutrient-sensitive times of the day and you can use them to gain more high-quality muscle mass.
Small changes like eating more protein and carbs around workouts will both improve your workout performance (driving muscle growth) and recovery afterwards. These are 2 of the most important ways to improve your muscle gain results.
Protein Bars Are Convenient And Easy On A Busy Day
Remember that protein bars aren’t going to do the work for you. Adding them to your diet can help, but you’ll still need to focus on the portions and foods in your meals.
Protein bars are just one aspect of your wider diet – and it all adds up when you’re trying to gain high-quality, healthy weight.
They can be a small benefit but the majority of your results will still come from your 2-3 big meals per day.
Relying on protein bars to get better results may be a short-term solution, especially for daytime snacking when you’re busy with work or studies.
The Best Protein Bars For Weight Gain
The best protein bars for weight gain are those which provide a deliberately high calorie and protein content per bar. Avoid weight loss focused protein bars which are about providing more fullness and protein for very few calories.
These kinds of bars are great for cutting down, but their focus on lean ingredient choices isn’t going to help your weight gain. You need to commit to a high-calorie, high-protein, high-carb bar that typically doesn’t use as many fats.
Carbs and protein are the best nutrients to drive up muscle recovery, growth, and performance during workouts. You also want plenty of electrolytes and metabolism-supporting B vitamins, if possible, but these are definitely bonus ingredients.
What Should You Look for in a Protein Bar for Weight Gain?
A good protein bar for weight gain will provide 100s of calories, lots of protein, and even a high carb content. These all spur muscle growth and weight gain, providing the nutrients your body needs for performance, recovery, and growth.
The MetRX big100 protein bar is one of the best examples on the market. We’ve reviewed protein bars and weight gain bars at length, so we’ll just go over the basics.
This is a protein bar that offers around 400 calories with 30g+ of protein and carbs. These are almost as high as you’d expect from a small meal, and this is almost the exact profile that you should add to a maintenance diet. 400 calories can be the difference between a maintenance and weight-gain diet for most people.
This kind of bar is a great addition that sets the example for other protein bars for weight gain. Any product that focuses on high-quality nutrients around this calorie, protein, and carb balance is likely to help support better muscle growth and weight gain.
Frequently Asked Questions
Conclusion: Final Thoughts
Protein bars don’t make you gain weight directly, but they can help your weight gain diet in a lot of ways. I have used a lot of protein bars and – unlike shakes – they tend to be quite enjoyable.
There are a wide range of ways you can use them, and they’re more convenient and easy to carry than a shake.
Protein bars aren’t going to carry your whole diet, but they can do serious work to improve your daily energy and protein intake.
This makes them a perfect choice to help skinny guys build more muscle by adding between-meal snacks, providing the resources your body needs for weight gain and muscle growth!
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Rohan Arora is a Certified Personal Trainer and Sports Nutritionist and has been actively involved in sports and fitness for over 8 years. He now leads the team of fitness specialists and personal trainers who help people around the world with personalized workout and nutrition plans, along with providing the right information on sports supplements.