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Side Effects of Giving up Protein Bars, According to Science

From your weight to your overall wellbeing, here's how ditching these snacks may affect your health.
FACT CHECKED BY Olivia Tarantino

Whether you're using them as meal replacements or as a post-workout snack, protein bars are an integral part of many people's daily routines. However, for many people, those protein bars may be having some surprising effects on their wellbeing they don't even realize.

If you've been thinking of cutting these snacks from your meal plan due to digestive issues, want to switch to eating whole foods, or feel like you don't need them if you aren't working out as much, read on to discover the side effects of giving up protein bars, according to science. And if you're ready to improve your health, check out The 7 Healthiest Foods to Eat Right Now.


You may eat more.

eating cookies

If you've been using protein bars to fend off those hunger pangs, don't be surprised if they return with a vengeance when you cut those protein-rich bars from your diet. A study published in the Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that individuals who consumed a high-fat, high-protein bar in the morning ate five percent less at a subsequent meal than those who consumed a high-fat, high-carb snack bar.

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Your blood sugar may crash.

Woman experiencing a bad headache

If you're prone to blood sugar crashes, you might want to keep protein bars on your meal plan for the time being. The aforementioned Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition study found that individuals who consumed the high-protein bars at breakfast had notably lower glucose and insulin responses than those who ate the carbohydrate-rich bars. However, when you cut protein bars from your diet, inevitably replacing them with something else (like the 15 Unhealthiest Fast-Food Breakfasts To Never Eat), you may negate these insulin-modulating effects.


Your breath may improve.

Woman checking her breath.

That bad breath may be the result of more than just a missed flossing session or two. According to research published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences in 2020, high-protein diets can increase the amount of malodorous ammonia emitted orally, but reducing dietary protein may help. (Related: Warning Signs You're Eating Too Much Protein.)


Your kidney health may improve.

young man sitting on couch with kidney pain
Shutterstock / Syda Productions

Individuals dealing with kidney health issues may find that cutting protein bars from their regular routine may be a net benefit for their wellbeing. According to 2019 research published in the journal Nutrients, among individuals with reduced kidney function, eating no more than 0.8 grams of protein per day per kilogram of ideal body weight may have a protective effect against further deterioration of their kidney health. And if you want to protect those vital organs, check out these Popular Diets That May Cause Damage to Your Kidneys, Science Says.


Sarah Crow
Sarah Crow is a senior editor at Eat This, Not That!, where she focuses on celebrity news and health coverage. Read more about Sarah