Granola vs. Protein Bars: Which One Is the Best for You?

Updated on September 26, 2017
Kyriaki Chatzi profile image

A food blogger by day and a TV show addict by night, Kiki runs on popcorn, Gilmore Girls marathons, and #movienights.

Let's get our (healthy) munch on!
Let's get our (healthy) munch on! | Source

Nowadays nutrition bars are like the Swiss army knife of snacks. Apart from being easy to carry around for bodybuilders and athletes on the go, they can also be healthy and quite appetizing. While some of these bars should be eaten only during special occasions, some others raise the bar (ha!) and help you achieve your individual fitness goals.

So, when faced with a wide snack bar selection, granola and protein bars are the two choices that can never go wrong. But, before you start chowing down on either one of them, how about we see what lies behind these wrappers and determine which one is the best for you?

Granola vs Protein Bars: Weight Loss

When you are on the fast track to losing weight, you should stick to a handful of tips that make the whole process much easier. From cutting down on fat intake to staying away from sugar, can granola and protein bars throw their hat in the ring?

  • Granola Bars and Weight Loss

While the sound of the words "granola bar" make you think about healthy nuts, oats, and grains, you should not give into this smartly marketed misconception. Yes, it's true that granola is a healthy blend that usually consists of oats, nuts, seeds, dried fruit, etc. However, granola bars don't contain just these healthy ingredients.

On its way to becoming a delicious granola bar, the mixture is enriched with several other ingredients that may not be of great help to your weight loss goals. From canola oil, butter or some other fat to sweeteners such as honey (in the best of cases), high fructose corn syrup and sugar-like substances, granola bars are not recommended for those who seek to lose weight. In fact, research concludes that high fructose corn syrup (a granola bar staple) is linked to weight gain.

Flavor? Check!  Chewy texture? Check!  Nutritional value? Check!  Then, sign us up!
Flavor? Check! Chewy texture? Check! Nutritional value? Check! Then, sign us up! | Source
  • Protein Bars and Weight Loss

Unlike granola, protein bars don't usually contain sugar additives which beat the whole purpose of losing weight. On the other hand, they are rich in protein (of course!) which can help you lose weight. How? There are two possible answers to this question.

To begin with, dietary protein can make you feel full for longer. This way you get to eat less and decrease your daily calorie intake. At the same time, many protein bars contain up to 300 calories which are relatively few. So, by replacing high-calorie snacks and foods with protein bars, you instantly promote your weight loss goals.

This type of nutrition bars don't just help you cut back your daily calorie intake, but they also introduce protein into your diet. By doing so (especially as a post-workout snack), you enhance your muscle recovery. As your muscle mass increases, the fat composition in your body fades away.

The Winner? Protein Bars

While granola bars contain healthy ingredients and taste great (may we add!), they are not the wisest choice when it comes to losing weight. On the other hand, protein bars are a welcome addition to weight loss meal plans. However, make sure you scan the ingredient list before the purchase and avoid the ones that contain lots of sugar, fat and are packed with calories.

Granola vs Protein Bars: Building Muscle

Are you a hardcore snacker but still want to gain muscle? Then, protein bars are a no-brainer.
Are you a hardcore snacker but still want to gain muscle? Then, protein bars are a no-brainer. | Source

When it comes to building muscle, bodybuilders and athletes alike are on a constant hunt for the best snacks/foods to support their training. Are granola and protein bars eligible candidates?

  • Granola Bars and Muscle Mass

Although some granola bars are nutritional landmines (check the ingredient list), promoting your muscle mass isn't their forte. Lacking in muscle-building nutrients such as protein and creatine, granola bars are rich in carbs (artificial sweeteners) which may set back your muscle building goals.

  • Protein Bars and Muscle Mass

Along with an efficient workout routine, research suggests that protein bars (soy/whey-based) can work miracles on your lean muscle gains. For those of you who take their exercise seriously, protein bars come in various types such as low-carb, high-protein or meal replacement bars. So, make sure you choose them based on your workout regimen and dietary needs.

The Winner? Protein Bars

If you want to snack for bulking, protein bars are BY FAR the most appropriate choice. Not only do they provide you with that extra protein boost, but (if chosen wisely) they also help you steer clear of artificial sweeteners.

Granola vs Protein Bars: Energy

Achieving your fitness goals is not always easy. There are those days when you may feel sluggish. Can snacking on granola or protein bars do the trick?

  • Granola Bars and Energy

The healthiest and most potent ingredient in granola bars is... granola! As mentioned earlier, granola is a mixture of oats along with other nuts, fruit, etc. Oats are a rich source of fiber which (according to research) delays fat absorption and prolongs that full feeling. In other words, fiber regulates your energy intake making you feel vibrant.

  • Protein Bars and Energy

Having as a priority to build your muscle mass, protein is your best shot at stimulating energy levels. However, once digested by your body, the protein contained in these bars is broken down into amino acids. From then, they go through a process where the nitrogen is removed. Once nitrogen-free, the amino acids turn into glucose which your body uses for energy.

Considering the various processes until we reach the final stage where protein converts into glucose successfully, experts claim that this nutrient shouldn't be consumed solely for energy purposes. However, some others argue that this conversion provides a slower but longer-lasting stream of energy than carbs (glucose).

The Winner? Granola Bars

Even though both snack bars can satisfy your energy needs, granola bars' effects are more direct and straightforward. Also, protein bars have other battles to win (muscle building). So, the result is dubious.

The Verdict

The lesson here is that you should always choose a nutrition bar to match your individual performance needs. Whether you want to bulk up or lose weight, the right snack bar can make a huge difference.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

Questions & Answers

    © 2016 Kyriaki Chatzi


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      • Peggy W profile image

        Peggy Woods 

        13 months ago from Houston, Texas

        I have not purchased either kind of bar but know that many people use them for snacks or energy. Your article nicely displayed the pros and cons of using granola verses protein bars. It is always important to read labels.

      • GetitScene profile image

        Dale Anderson 

        17 months ago from The High Seas

        I feel like Indiana Jones on an impossible quest to find the secret, lost treasure. At least that's how I feel when it comes to these 'snack' bars. Personally, I want something with a little chew but no chocolate. I look for something with nuts, grains and dried fruit if I can find it. Good article here.

      • bodylevive profile image


        2 years ago from Alabama, USA

        Great work here, personally, I enjoy both bars but my preference is the granola bar. I have lost a lot of weight but it didn't have anything to do with the bars. The weight loss came on from a medication I had to take. I use the granola to hold me in between meals, sometimes my sugar drops a little low.

      • Jesse Drzal profile image

        The Write Life 

        2 years ago from The United States

        Really well done. This actually answered a few questions I have had on the subject. Food information can be a little confusing at times it seems. Thank you for clearing the air!

      • David Branagan profile image

        David Branagan 

        2 years ago from Ireland

        Nice article! Totally agree with you on your verdicts. I like granola but I never use them before or after the gym, not enough protein, too much sugar and carbohydrate. Protein bars all the way. My favourite is Maxinutrition Promax dark chocolate flavour...yuum.

      • profile image


        2 years ago

        Although I eat neither, my husband and daughter do as breakfast and snacks. I've often wondered what's the difference and are the just interchangeable? You answered that superbly.


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