Protein Bar Vs Shake: Which Is Better For You?

Which is better for you: a protein shake or a protein bar? Many people ask this COMMON question, and the answer is not always clear-cut.

It ultimately comes down to personal preference and goals. If you’re looking for a quick fix, go for a protein shake. If you want something more filling, opt for a protein bar.

As always, be sure to check the nutrition label and ingredient list to choose the best option for your specific dietary needs and preferences.

In this blog post, I will look at the pros and cons of protein bar vs. shake to help you decide which is the best option for you.

Quick Summary

  • Protein shakes are made up of protein powder, milk or water, and any additional supplements in your stack. 
  • Protein bars are made up of whole food ingredients like nuts, seeds, and dates.
  • Protein bars offer a more substantial high-protein snack option that can also fill gaps between meals.

The Benefits Of Protein Shakes

There are many BENEFITS to including protein supplements in your diet. Let’s take a closer look to see if protein shakes are the right choice for you.

Convenient And Easy To Make

One of the biggest benefits of a protein shake is the CONVENIENCE. All you need is a shaker bottle or blender, and you can quickly whip up a protein-packed shake on the go.

They’re also EASY to customize with different ingredients such as fruits, nut butter, or oats to give them more flavor and texture.

Pro TipPre-measure your protein powder and store it in single-serving containers for an even easier protein shake on the go.

Quick And Efficient Source Of Protein

Another benefit of shakes is that they are a QUICK and EFFICIENT source of protein. Whey protein helps build muscle, repair tissue, and keep you feeling fuller for longer [1].

If you’re struggling to meet your daily protein intake, adding a protein shake to your diet can be an easy way to increase your protein intake.

Pro TipIf you’re following a plant-based diet, opt for plant-based protein powders such as pea or hemp protein.

Great For Post-Workout Recovery

Protein is ESSENTIAL for muscle gain and recovery, making protein supplements the perfect post-workout drink. The fast absorption rate of protein powder helps your body REPLENISH your muscles and repair any damage from exercise.

If you’re looking to build muscle mass, dietitians recommend consuming protein within 45 minutes of a workout in order to maximize muscle growth and recovery. This can be easily achieved with a protein shake [2].

Pro TipAdd a carb source to your post-workout shake such as a banana or a scoop of oats for even better recovery.

Can Be Tailored To Specific Dietary Needs (vegan, gluten-free, etc.)

Many different types of protein powder are available, including whey, casein, soy, pea, and hemp protein. This means that most protein bars and shakes can EASILY be tailored to fit specific dietary needs, such as vegan or gluten-free diets.

Be sure to check the label to ensure your protein powder meets your dietary requirements.

Help Lose Weight

Including more protein in your diet can also aid in WEIGHT LOSS. Protein shakes are a low-calorie source of protein that can help keep you feeling fuller for longer and prevent overeating.

Studies show that a high-protein diet can also help increase metabolism and promote both weight gain and loss [3].

Pro TipOpt for a lower-calorie option, such as unsweetened almond milk or water instead of dairy, and skip any added sugars or flavored syrups.

The Disadvantages Of Protein Shakes

Although protein shakes have many benefits, they also have some drawbacks. Let’s take a closer look at the potential downsides of protein supplements.

Not As Filling As Whole Foods

One downside of protein shakes is that they may NOT keep you as full as whole foods such as lean meats and vegetables. This is because whole foods contain fiber and other nutrients that can help promote satiety, while protein powder on its own may not have the same effect.

If you’re using protein shakes as a meal replacement, be sure to add other ingredients such as fruits and vegetables to increase their satiating power.

Can Be High In Sugar And Calories

Some protein shakes can be high in added SUGAR and CALORIES, so it’s important to check the nutrition label before purchasing.

Opt for protein powders with minimal ingredients and no added sugars. You can also make your own shake using unsweetened milk or water as the base to control the amount of added sugars.

Pro TipAdding fruits or a sprinkle of cinnamon can give your shake natural sweetness without the added sugars.

May Contain Artificial Sweeteners And Additives

Some protein powders may contain ARTIFICIAL SWEETENERS and ADDITIVES, so be sure to check the label for any potentially questionable ingredients. These additives can have potential negative health effects and may not be ideal for regular consumption.

Choose protein powders made with natural sweeteners or unflavored varieties to avoid added chemicals and artificial ingredients.

The Benefits Of Protein Bars

There are many benefits to choosing protein bars as a snack or meal replacement. Let’s take a closer look at the pros of protein bars.

Convenient On-The-Go Snack

Similar to protein shakes, protein bars are a convenient on-the-go snack option. They’re EASY to throw in your bag and eat when you need a quick source of fuel. And they are a lot healthier than reaching for a candy bar when those afternoon slumps kick in. 

Whole Food Ingredients

Unlike protein shakes which typically contain only protein powder, protein bars are made with WHOLE FOOD ingredients such as nuts, seeds, and dried fruit. This means they offer additional nutrients and fiber, making eating them a more substantial snack option.

Can Be Tailored To Specific Dietary Needs (vegan, gluten-free, etc.)

Like protein shakes, many different types of protein bars are available to fit SPECIFIC dietary needs, such as vegan or gluten-free diets. Be sure to check the label to ensure your protein bar meets your dietary requirements.

Substantial Snack Option

Protein bars can also make for a more substantial snack option compared to protein shakes. They’re often paired with carbohydrates and HEALTHY fats, making them a satisfying choice for hunger control.

The Disadvantages Of Protein Bars

Although protein bars have many benefits, there are also some potential downsides to consider.

May Contain Added Sugars

Some protein bars contain added sugars, so check the ingredients list and nutrition facts label. Look for bars with LESS THAN 10 grams of sugar per serving, and opt for bars made with NATURAL sweeteners such as honey or maple syrup.

Can Be Expensive

Protein bars can also be EXPENSIVE compared to making your own snacks with whole foods. You’re paying for the convenience, but you’ll also find that a powdered protein supplement along with a bag of unsalted nuts could achieve the same. 

Pro TipLook for sales or buy in bulk to save money on protein bars.

What to Look for in Protein Bars and Protein Shakes

When choosing protein bars or protein shakes, it’s important to look for products that contain high-quality ingredients and MINIMAL added sugars.

It’s also IMPORTANT to consider your own dietary needs and preferences. Protein bars may be a more substantial and filling option, while protein shakes can be a fast and convenient choice.

Ultimately, both protein bars and protein shakes can be a healthy addition to a balanced diet. Just be sure to choose products that fit your specific dietary needs and preferences.


Are there vegan alternatives available?

Both protein bars and protein shakes tend to have VEGAN options available on the market. Look for plant-based proteins such as peas, brown rice, or hemp to ensure your choice is suitable for a vegan diet.

Can I use them as meal replacements?

While both protein bars and shakes can be used as a meal REPLACEMENT, they should not be the only source of nutrition in your diet. Including a BALANCE of whole foods, vegetables, and healthy fats in your meals is important for optimal health.

Should I choose bars or shakes based on taste?

Taste is a personal preference and should not be the only factor in choosing a protein supplement. Look for ones that also have a GOOD balance of protein, carbohydrates, and fats to meet your nutritional needs.

Final Thoughts

The choice between a protein bar or a shake ultimately depends on individual preferences and goals. As a personal trainer, and from my own experience, I think there is room for both in your daily routine. 

Both options can provide added protein to support muscle growth and recovery, but it is also important to consider the protein content overall nutritional profile. Experiment with different types to find what works best for you.

Also check out our recommended protein shakes for a list of top-quality products that can make a big difference in your diet. 



My name is Michael Smith and I met both Sandra and Dave as clients. I’ve been working as a physiotherapist for the past 10 years now, which is a job I love doing.

See, I once had a promising football career which started with the Texas Longhorns, but unfortunately was cut short after just 1 semester when I suffered quite a serious knee injury.

I spent about 18 months going through 3 surgeries and endless hours of physiotherapy. Unfortunately, it was the end of my pro football career, but it opened my eyes to remaining involved in sports and helping athletes recover.

My main focus is sports injuries and I’m set up as a private practice. Maybe one day I’ll try and become involved in a college or pro football team, but at the moment I enjoy the freedom and flexibility of being my own boss.

In my spare time I still coach football, but unfortunately, I cannot play anymore. The nature of my injury was quite severe and has significantly weakened my knee, so I just can’t take such risks anymore.

But coaching kids and teenagers, and helping them prepare for college try-outs is something I absolutely love doing. And reaching a wider audience with some tips on preventing sports injuries is what I hope to achieve on this site.

We will be happy to hear your thoughts

      Leave a reply