Over the last few years, meal replacement products have become all the rage, as it is understood – quite rightly, as it turns out – that eating less calories will, over time, lead to weight loss. There has been a corresponding interest in protein bars for weight loss; since protein make up so much of our body, physically speaking, it stands to reason that supplementing with proteins instead of consuming a full meal would make sense. But is it in fact the case? What governs the science behind proteins, and their importance for weight loss, and will replacing meals with protein bars lead to actual weight loss, or simply lead to a re-shuffle of your caloric sources?
Proteins are, after water, the most common molecule in the human body. They are present in every cell, and are of particular importance in skeletal muscle cells, organs, skin and hair. Having a proper protein intake, either from animal or vegetable sources, is essential to good health. For the general population, i.e., not athletes or bodybuilders, the percentage of calories you get from proteins should be about 15% of your total caloric intake. Replacing a meal with a protein bar will make sense in the following cases:
– Doing so does not push your total daily caloric protein intake over 15% of your total daily caloric intake
– Doing so replaces a meal rich in fat or carbohydrates
Your body can only process a certain amount of protein per day, so over-supplementation beyond a certain amount will not only not help you, but could cause liver or kidney damage, as these organs will strain to break down and eliminate the excess protein.
Generally speaking, protein supplementation is more geared towards individuals with greater protein needs, for example athletes and bodybuilders who would need additional protein to help them grow their muscle mass, and repair muscle cells damaged during exercise. Before supplementing or replacing complete meals with protein bars, always do your research to make sure that you will not accidentally ingest too much protein. It always pays to do research beforehand!
Remember that in this case, you will be supplementing your diet with protein bars, with the goal of losing weight firmly in mind. Do not, ever, start supplementing at the expense of your normal diet. Normal dietary sources provide your body with countless essential nutrients, minerals, vitamins that will not be included in your protein bar, however good. Make sure that you have a rock-solid, healthy and balanced diet, rich in fresh fruits, vegetables and lean cuts of meat before even considering protein bars.
That being said, protein bars can make very worthwhile additions to your weight loss plan; they can help replace other protein sources that would have been too rich in fat or cholesterol, or simply too plentiful to be pleasant eating. Vegetarians and vegans in particular may benefit from supplementation, as it is sometimes more challenging for them to get their full complement of complete proteins from purely dietary sources.