12 best protein bars for runners UK 2022: Barebells, Fulfill and more
Protein supplementation shouldn’t just be a priority for weightlifters, runners should consider it too.
During exercise there is an increase in protein breakdown in muscle, so it is important to include enough protein foods in your diet to counter a negative protein balance.
Proteins are responsible for a host of activities in the body. “It plays a key role in everything from hormone production and brain function to a healthy immune system,” says Melissa Kendter, qualified running coach and EvolveYou trainer. It also plays a key role in cell repair.
Replacing the protein you break down during exercise is important because it helps the body build lean tissue and repair muscle, ensuring you have adequate recovery and preparation for your next workout.
While it’s important to spread your protein intake evenly throughout the day via regular meals, a protein bar is a great way to supplement your post-run intake, kick-start the recovery process while helping you make sure you get enough of it in your diet.
The good news is that as the popularity of protein supplements continues to skyrocket, there are a plethora of bars, brownies and cookies to help you get your fix. The best piece? Unlike the old days, many of them truly good taste too.
To save you from wasting your hard-earned money on sawdust-flavored supplements, the The runner’s world Lab put a range of market-leading products to the test. Keep scrolling for the best protein bars for runners…
How much protein do runners need?
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that the average adult should consume at least 0.8 g of protein per kg of body weight per day.
Runners tend to demand more than that, says OneTrack running coach Justin Reid-Simms. For optimal muscle repair and recovery, he recommends aiming for between 1.2 and 1.8 g of protein per kg of body weight per day. But it depends on your training load. “If your training load is particularly high, you might consider increasing it to 2g protein per kg, but don’t skimp on carbs to hit your protein goal,” Simms says.
What are the best protein bars for runners?
The best protein bars contain enough “complete protein”, meaning protein containing all the essential amino acids that the body cannot make on its own.
Whey protein bars, which are made from cow’s milk, tick this box, but if you’re looking for a plant-based option, look for ones that come from a variety of plant sources. Bars containing a mix of soy, legumes, grains, nuts and seeds are a good cry.
Bars with 20g of protein will deliver a significant hit, but snacks with more than 10g are also handy for supplementing your intake throughout the day.
Note that many products are high in sugar and low in protein, so always check the back of the package before buying.
“Look for a bar made with simple, nutrient-dense ingredients that you can recognize,” says Kendter. “Stay away from those that contain lots of artificial sweeteners and preservatives, as they may aggravate the gut.”
Should I eat a protein bar before or after a run?
There’s no bad time to eat a protein bar, but you’ll reap the most rewards by snacking on yours post-run, especially if it’s also high in carbs.
“Within the first 30 to 60 minutes after intense exercise, the body is ready to use protein and carbohydrates for muscle recovery and rebuilding,” says Kendter.
Protein bars are also a convenient on-the-go option, especially when eating a high-protein meal isn’t possible. Remember that no supplement can replace a healthy diet.
How we test
For 2022 The runner’s world Sports Nutrition Awards, we asked a panel of over 200 testers – made up of casual runners and experts – to try a range of whey and vegan protein bars for a month, before giving feedback on their pros and cons .
The protein bars were judged on their taste, texture, aroma, nutritional value, ease of use and, most importantly, their impact on running performance.
Look for our prestigious Sports Nutritions Awards badge below, as products bearing this badge have been deemed our worthy winners for 2022. The other products on this list have also earned the The runner’s world Lab seal of approval.
From dupes of chocolate bars to fruity pancakes, get ready to taste: