How to Choose a Protein Bar After Bariatric Surgery

Protein bars are advertised as a convenient option to provide quick nutrition for when you’re on the go. Unfortunately, many products include ingredients that are less than ideal, from artificial coloring to highly processed sugars. Some protein bar options could pass as a modified candy bar, so it’s important to pay attention to the nutrition facts label. Whole foods are always encouraged over protein bars and other packaged/processed options, but convenience is understandable since life doesn’t always allow the time.

When to consume a protein bar?

In most cases, it’s not recommended to eat more than 1 protein bar per day, as a majority of our nutrition should be coming from whole food sources packed with vitamins and minerals. Many people don’t realize how many calories and carbohydrates they’re actually consuming in such a small bar, which may hinder weight loss. Below are some scenarios in which a protein bar would be an appropriate option: 

  • Emergency energy source (hiking, other endurance activities, out and about with nothing on hand)
  • Pre and Post workout 
  • Road trips and travel 
  • Occasional treat 
  • If protein requirements cannot be met consistently with whole food sources

Top things to look for on a protein bar nutrition label:

  • Fiber: at least 4g/serving
  • Protein: at least 13g/serving no more than 25g/serving
  • Sugar: less than 10 g/serving
  • Sugar Alcohols: be mindful of sugar alcohols as they can cause GI symptoms when eaten in excess

Recommended animal-based protein bar brands:

1. Oatmega
  • Each serving provides 250mg of DHA and EPA Omega 3’s 
  • Suitable for gluten-free
  • Adequate fiber : 7g fiber
  • Adequate protein : 14g protein
  • Available at local grocery store/Wegmans or online 
2. Built Bar 
  • Under 200 calories per serving and gluten-free
  • Adequate fiber : 6g fiber
  • Adequate protein : 17g protein
  • Be mindful of the sugar alcohols 
  • Available online

Recommended plant-based protein bar brands:

1. No Cow Bar
  • High fiber bar : 13 -17g fiber
  • High protein : 20 - 22g protein from brown rice and pea protein
  • Vegan, naturally flavored and gluten-free 
  • Available at local grocery store/Wegmans or online 
2. Aloha Bar
  • Lower and higher fiber options available : 6-14g fiber
  • Vegan and gluten-free
  • Adequate protein : 14g protein from brown rice and pumpkin seeds
  • Available online 

The high fiber options may be an issue for those who don’t regularly include fiber in the diet. Follow the recommendations provided by your dietitian regarding how to incorporate higher fiber in your diet. 

Protein after bariatric surgery

Protein will always be a top priority after weight loss surgery to aid in healing, maintaining and building lean muscle mass, curbing hunger and promoting proper nutrition. Whether that protein comes from animal-based or plant-based sources, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Animal-based protein (meat, dairy, eggs, etc.) will contain all 9 essential amino acids that your body requires in order to build new proteins and support body functions. These protein sources are considered complete. 
  • Plant-based protein (legumes, nuts/seeds, quinoa, tofu, tempeh, edamame, etc.) usually require a variety of complementary plant-based sources to be consumed throughout the day. This is because most plant-based protein options lack at least 1 of the essential amino acids. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. They play an important role in almost every system of the body, from muscle maintenance to adequate mental health. Falling low in 1 or more of the essential amino acids will cause a problem over time if variety is not included. 


Some of these protein options may not be suitable for consumption based on diet stage and toleration after bariatric surgery. Always follow the food list provided by your healthcare provider or dietitian for food and beverage recommendations. Bariatric Fusion was not paid to endorse these products. All opinions are provided by our staff Registered Dietitian.