Don’t get us wrong, protein bars have long been our go-to post-workout snack. But all too often, their nutrition labels look more like they belong on Snickers than on so-called “health” food. While serious weight lifters may see benefits from consuming extra protein, it’s not really necessary for most.

And all that protein adds up to major calories. But it’s not just the protein that’s to blame for the calorie spike. Most bars have a ton of sugary ingredients like chocolate, caramel, and sweetened peanut butter. They may be the right option after a serious sweat session, but avoid protein bars as a simple between-meal snack. And of course, read the nutrition label to weed-out options with through-the-roof sugar content.

The Takeaway: Protein bars can be a sneaky source of calories and sugar in addition to protein. Stick with smaller, low-sugar options and reach for ‘em only when exercising — most of us don’t actually need additional protein.

Post-Workout Snacks

Protein bars might not be the best choice, but some form of protein post-workout is key.

Fun Fact

Your body needs 22 different amino acids (the stuff that makes up protein) to function, but can make 14 of them by itself.