Pre- Versus Post-workout Ingredients
The timing and purpose for eating a protein bar will help you narrow down your options.
“If you’re preparing for exhaustive exercise, you can top off your fuel supply with a bar that contains quick-digesting carbohydrates, as well as some protein,” says Heather Mangieri, RDN, CSSD, sports dietitian, and author of Fueling Young Athletes. Pre-workout is the time to limit fat, fiber, and large amounts of protein, though, as these nutrients can slow digestion and could negatively impact how you feel during your training.
“After exercise, your muscles need a combination of carbohydrates and high-quality protein to support the rebuilding and recovery process. Look for bars with a complete amino acid profile from animal sources like casein and whey protein isolate or egg protein,” says Mangieri.
If you opt for plant-based proteins, however, not all “offer a complete protein source, so if you follow a plant-based diet, look in the ingredient list to make sure it includes a variety of plant-based proteins, such as pea, rice, bean and seed varieties.”