A bariatric guide to protein supplements: Protein bars

A bariatric guide to protein supplements: Protein bars

This post follows on from last week’s one about protein powders. You can go here to read that one first!

I have talked about protein bars quite a bit on my blog before, I like to rant about them and I also like to review them. In the appropriate points in this post I will link you to those things. Like protein powders, protein bars can be really confusing and overwhelming. There are so many options out there and with protein bars in particular it can be a bit of a grey area about what’s appropriate for bariatric tummies and what isn’t. The important thing to remember is that protein bars are just a protein supplement.

My recommendations for protein each day (From my dietician, if your recommendations are different then keep doing what you have been recommended!!) are to get between 60-80 grams of protein each day. I do pretty well getting that in each day, I’ve also had three years to practice, but I do still supplement my breakfast with protein powder on a daily basis. Protein supplements are handy and can be used by bariatric patients but I can’t stress enough how important it is that you get as much protein as you can in from actual food and only ever use protein products as supplementation if and when you need to.

Protein bars, much like protein powders, can be made out of and based on many different things. They are a bit of a trend at the moment and because of that you may find all sorts of muesli and cereal bars labelled as protein bars. Be aware! Read the label of any protein bar you are considering eating and make a decision if it’s worth it or not! I have written a post before with my thoughts around this and you should check it out here to see some of the not quite protein bars I’ve found in the past labelled as protein bars.

My main guidelines to follow are to make sure there’s a decent enough amount of protein in a protein bar to justify eating it. If it’s a big bar and only has 5-10 grams of protein in it then it’s probably not worth it. In the early days after surgery, and even now, I see a protein bar as a whole meal. Be careful not to fall into bad habits using them as snacks because protein bars tend to be quite energy dense and it will stall, interfere with or make your weight loss harder to manage. Because of this you want a protein bar that has at least 15 grams of protein in in. Around 20 is great, for me that’s a third of my daily minimum protein requirement.

Another thing to watch out for with protein bars, and a reason why you don’t want to rely on them too much in your diet is they tend to be quite high in fat. It’s another thing to consider and balance in the wider scope of your diet. I limit myself to 2 protein bars a week max. This means I can have a planned one (if I need something quick) and have one to fall back on if I get caught short. I always try to carry a few around in my handbag, leave some at the office and then if I need one I don’t have to go and buy one.

Protein bars are a bit too hard to break down into nice categories so I’ll talk about some of the ones I’ve reviewed on my blog and give you the links to the post where I reviewed them.

Quest Protein Bars

These are some of the most widely available and easiest to get your hands on protein bars. You can get them from a variety of places online and I’ve even seen them in gas stations. Quest bars and good for bariatric tummies in that they generally have between 19-22 grams of protein per bar and they have a huge variety of flavours. I’ve reviewed these twice on my blog and you can find those reviews here and here.

Nothing Naughty’s protein bars

The first thing I love about these bars is that they are absolutely delicious! Another awesome thing about them is they are made and manufactured right here in NZ. These bars are also the best priced per par I have found and their shipping times from their website is incredible. Also if you order a mixed box but want more of one flavour than another or want to omit a flavour you don’t like, leave it in the notes and they will pack your box as you wish. Pro tip: Their Pineapple chocolate protein bar is like eating a giant pineapple lump, but don’t say I didn’t warn you when you develop a new obsession! You can find my review of these bars here.

Tom and Luke’s Protein bars

These are another NZ made protein bar. They are quite popular among my bariatric friends and almost everyone remarks on how filling they are. These tend to be quite easy to get too and are stocked in tons of places around NZ. You can read my review on them here. 

Protein bars can be a bit much for newly bariatric tummies. I didn’t start eating them until about six months after my surgery and I had to make sure I took my time with them or it would hurt and I would pay the consequences. I wrote a whole post about the deal with protein bars which you should read as well as this one.

Protein bars are supplements. It’s important to keep that in mind and not have them play too larger part in your overall diet. That first year post surgery is the absolute best chance you get at setting up new and helpful habits so stay on track then and the future is going to be easier for you. Use protein bars when necessary and always have a backup but make an effort to get the most protein you can from actual food!

Do you use protein supplements after your bariatric surgery? If you do, do you use them on a daily, weekly or monthly basis? Which protein bar is your favourite? Comment below and let me know, I’d love to hear from you!

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