The Real Deal With Protein Bars? Are They REALLY Good For You?

They're hasn't been a bigger buzz about a sweet treat in years. But are they the saviour of your fitness routine? We asked Ireland's top fitfammers to find out.

Protein Bars

Suddenly they’re everywhere. Whole aisles are devoted to them in shops and it seems no big deal to lay down upwards of €3.50 for products that can sometimes be not much more than glorified candy bars. Once a staple of gym junkies, protein bars have hit the mainstream, with Mars and Snickers even releasing protein-packed versions of their classics earlier this year.

But with some brands packing a whopping 400 calories or more per portion, can they really be considered a healthy option? We asked some of our favourite fitness faces for their take on the Protein Debate…

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Maeve Madden, model and fitness blogger

Instagram: @maeve_madden

Maeve Madden

“I’d munch on a protein bar once or twice a week if I’m running around, travelling or on a long shoot. They’re also a great emergency energy boost post-workout. They can be hit or miss, nutrition-wise, but I’m a fan of some of the more healthy, low sugar options. Always read the label as the nutritional value between bars can vary really widely between brands. The less ingredients in your protein bar of choice, the better.”

Amanda Moroney, trainer and nutrition expert

Instagram: @recalibratedbodies

Amanda Moroney

“I always recommend whole foods over processed ones, but protein bars can fill a void if you’re eating on the go and are conscious of hitting certain macro-nutrient requirements. In terms of benefits over traditional chocolate bars, protein bars do more to balance blood sugar levels, plus they give you increased levels of satiety and have a greater thermic effect on the body. Everything in moderation.”

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Karl Henry, personal trainer

Instagram: @karlhenrypt

Karl Henry

“Most commercially-made protein bars are high in sugar, additives and preservatives. I wouldn’t see them as being healthy at all. If you like the idea of a protein bar as a snack, I’d suggest making batches of your own at home, with or without protein powder. At least that way you know what’s gone into them. My go-to recipe is to soften dates and figs in boiling water, blitz, add whatever nuts and seeds I have to hand, slice the mix into bars and roll them in desiccated coconut. So tasty!”

Sinead Forde, sports nurse and PT-in-training

Instagram: @sineforde

Sinead Forde

“I used to eat protein bars every day thinking they were a healthy option. Now I’ve cut way back because, while a protein bar’s healthier than a Mars bar, it’s still not a substitute for a proper meal full of real, whole food. I keep protein bars for on-the-run emergencies or for times when I’m craving something sweet. In general I tend to stick to the Fulfil and Nutramino Lean brands as those are some of the better options in terms of nutritional value.”

Our verdict: Don’t fool yourself that you’re taking care of your body by chowing down on protein bars. Real, whole food first, look at labels, and eat them in moderation. Erm, like everything else, so.