How Protein Shakes & Bars Stack Up Against All-Natural Protein Sources

How Protein Shakes & Bars Stack Up Against All-Natural Protein Sources

192b4b2e2dd5371bcaa8301841ec50f4d8a6e2bb?auto=compress&w=240&h=240&fit=crop
Sheela Prakash
Apr 30, 2017
(Image credit: Susanna Hopler)

It's hard to miss the shelves and aisles and impressive displays devoted to protein shakes and bars at your local grocery store — it doesn't need to be a health food store for the bars to taunt you at the checkout line. If you're not someone who consumes these packaged products, you may very well wonder what all the fuss is about. Or if you are someone who grabs a protein bar as a snack in the middle of the day, you may wonder if it's really a good choice. Here's the truth.

The Truth About Protein Shakes and Bars

While protein shakes and bars can indeed give you a big boost of the nutrient, they can lack other important nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. And because of this, they often don't leave you feeling full in the same way that a well-rounded meal or snack can. They also are very often high in sugar, having as much as a soda or candy bar.

And to top it off, when it comes to total protein count, protein bars and shakes often come in equal or even behind easy, popular foods like eggs and yogurt.

Regardless of total protein count, when it comes to your macronutrients, your best bet is to get your protein through whole foods — and there are plenty of them that are just as convenient as protein shakes and bars that give you almost an equal dose of protein.

How Protein Shakes Compare to Popular Breakfasts


(Image credit: Susanna Hopler)
  • One eight-ounce glass of prepared protein shake (16 grams protein) vs. one-cup container of Greek yogurt (18 grams protein) with berries
(Image credit: Susanna Hopler)
  • One eight-ounce glass of prepared protein shake (16 grams protein) vs. one slice of whole-wheat toast with peanut butter (12 grams protein)

How Protein Bars Compare to Popular Snacks


(Image credit: Susanna Hopler)
  • Protein bars like Quest and Luna (12 grams protein) vs. almonds (29 grams protein)
(Image credit: Susanna Hopler)
  • Protein bars like Quest and Luna (12 grams protein) vs. one hard-boiled egg (6 grams protein)
(Image credit: Susanna Hopler)
  • Protein bars like Quest and Luna (12 grams protein) vs. one string cheese (8 grams protein)

Who I Am (and Why I'm Writing to You)

As a food editor who is also a Registered Dietitian, I know the confusion of our fractured landscape of diet information. But if you strip away the study-of-the-day and fad diets, there is solid information we can all learn about basic nutritional building blocks.

We're offering these unsexy yet useful tools to empower cooks to make decisions that suit them with solid, science-driven resources.

This especially applies to protein, the first topic in our new Nutrition 101 series. We want to give you the tools for confident eating and a more wholesome diet — something we can all get behind.

Created with Sketch.