DIY Whey Protein Bars: 3 Easy & Tasty Recipes to Try at Home
Whey protein bars are without a doubt one of the best in-between-meal snacks, or even occasional meal substitutes any adult can have. They are a good source of energy and nutrition and loaded with essential amino acids including BCAAs, which boosts muscle protein synthesis, causes body fat loss, and improves triglyceride profile. And may I add: whey protein bars are delicious and very filling with the right blend of ingredients.
Where do whey protein come from and why are they good for you?
Whey proteins are the isolated macronutrient from whey, the liquid by-product when you strain the curdled part of the coagulated milk in cheese production. It is actually composed of various highly soluble globular proteins such as beta-lactoglobulin, alpha-lactalbumin, and immunoglobulin.
The latter is more commonly called “antibody”, which neutralizes viruses, bacteria and other pathogens that enter the body of a living person or animal.
Milk actually has two main proteins, “casein” being the other one. The ratio of proteins in human milk is 60% whey and 40% casein, while cow’s milk has 20% whey and 80% casein. Based then on the given comparative quotients, our bodies can sensibly benefit from whey supplementation since we don't get enough of it from cow’s milk, our main source of said dietary liquid.
While whey proteins are quickly and easily absorbed and digested by our body, casein lingers longer in our system. Meaning, the former provides immediate energy, while the latter fuels our body in a slow sustained rate.
Besides giving our bodies sudden energy boosts, which are especially helpful when engaging in strenuous physical and mental activities such as sports, gym workout, or even performing your regular job, whey protein provides many other health benefits.
Other than aiding your body in muscle building and fat burning, it is also said to contain active components that help in fighting cancer and lowering bad cholesterol.
Common ingredients you can use to make your own whey protein bars:
- Whey Protein Powder – There are actually two forms of whey proteins in the market: isolates and concentrate. The former tends to be more expensive for its fast-acting property in delivering amino acids to your muscles.
Whey concentrates will do in making protein bars, just make sure that at least ¾ of the total net weight of the product you buy is said protein. I am saying this since almost all products in the market come in formulated form, which contains many other ingredients including a bunch of sweeteners.
- Fresh or Dried Fruits and Berries – Not only that these foodstuffs will make your protein bar more delectable with their natural sweetness, they are also great sources of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and dietary fibers. You can actually add raisins, dried berries, dates, prunes, apples, bananas, blueberries, etc. in various recipes.
- Nuts and Seeds – Again, these are good sources of dietary fibers, fatty acids, and other healthy nutrients. For the nuts, it is better to grind them in food processors (electronic or otherwise) before adding them to the mix. Your options include almonds, walnuts, cashews, pistachio, pine nuts, etc. For the seeds, try chia, flaxseeds, sesame, peeled pumpkin seeds, hemp, etc.
- Whole Grains – Great sources of easily digestible carbohydrates. Among those you can use includes oats, quinoa, farro, millet, rice, etc.
- Binders and Natural Sweeteners – Falling in this category are dairy or non-dairy milk (almond, coconut, etc.), cream, flour, honey, dark chocolate, peanut butter, etc.
3 Easy-to-Make Whey Protein Bar Recipes
1. No Bake Chocolate-Peanut Butter-Whey Protein Bar
If you like the classic flavor combination of chocolate and peanut butter then you will find this one truly delightful. Not only that it tastes delicious and loaded with protein plus ample carbohydrates and fibers, it is also very easy to prepare. No baking required.
¼ Cup Vanilla Flavored Whey Protein Powder
3 Cups Crispy Rice Cereals
½ Cup Creamy Peanut Butter
½ Cup Honey
½ Cup Refrigerated Chocolate Chips
½ Cup Raisins or Dried Cranberries (Optional)
- Line a small baking dish or pan (approx. 8” x 8”) with parchment paper and set aside.
- Combine the peanut butter and honey in a saucepan and melt them together for a few minutes over low heat. Stir the ingredients thoroughly until properly blended, and then remove from the stove.
- Add in the rice cereals, whey protein powder, and raisins. Stir until everything are fully combined, before adding the chocolate chips. Continue mixing until the chips are well distributed.
- Pour the whole mixture into the lined baking pan or dish and flatten with a spoon or spatula until it fills the entire horizontal space of the container. Cover with another piece of parchment paper and firmly compress down the mixture.
- Refrigerate for 4 – 6 hours or until the mixture aptly solidifies and fit for cutting.
- Remove the whole cake from the pan by lifting the paper liner then lay down on a flat tray. Slice the treat into 10 – 12 bars. Keep the pieces that you will not yet consume in the refrigerator.
2. Lemon Coconut Whey Protein Bars
If you prefer a little lemony tartness on your whey protein bar, then this is the recipe for you. It is also teeming with vitamin C and dietary fibers. It really makes a great pre and post-workout snack as it can give you an energy boost, as well as an aid in the recovery phase.
1 Cup Whey Protein Powder
½ Cup Coconut Flour
¾ Cup Almond Meal
3 Flax Eggs (1 tbsp. ground flaxseeds: 3 tbsp. water ratio each)
½ Cup Lemon Juice (Freshly Squeezed)
½ Cup Desiccated Coconut
¼ Cup Honey or Maple Syrup
- Prepare your flax eggs by mixing the seeds with water according to prescribed ratio (1:3) then set aside in the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes.
- Combine the whey protein powder, coconut flour, almond meal and desiccated coconut in a large bowl and stir until completely mixed.
- Mix flax eggs, lemon juice, maple syrup or honey and lemon zest and whisk together.
- Combine the dry mixture (#2) and wet mixture (#3) in and stir together until thoroughly mixed. If you have a stand mixer much better, just set the machine at low speed. While doing this, preheat the oven to 365°F, and grease and line a square baking pan.
- Pour the final mixture into the pan and smoothen with a spatula or wooden spoon. Then put in the oven and bake for 30 minutes. You can check if it is fully baked by inserting a metal skewer or fork in the middle of the cake and see if the utensil comes out fully clean.
- Take the pan out of the oven and let it cool completely. Take the cake out from the pan and slice it into 12 almost equal pieces to make individual protein bars.
3. No Bake Carrot-Whey Protein Bars
Satisfy your sweet tooth without the guilt and without much hassle. This no-bake treat is not only heaving with protein, fiber, and antioxidants, you also get a healthy dose of beta-carotene too. You can even turn this snack bar into an absolute dessert by adding a frosting on top!
To make the bar:
½ Cup Vanilla Flavored Whey Protein Powder
2 ½ Cups Oat Flour (gluten-free)
½ Cup Mashed Carrots
¼ Cup Almond Butter
1 Tbsp. Cinnamon
½ Cup Maple Syrup
¼ Cup Non-Dairy Milk (Almond Milk is recommended)
1 Tsp. Mixed Spice
2 Tbsp. Granulated Sweetener (optional)
To make the frosting:
1 Scoop Vanilla Flavored Whey Protein Powder
¼ Cup Dairy-Free Cream Cheese
¼ Cup Dairy-Free Milk
- Get a large baking pan or dish (approx. 9” x 12”) and line it with parchment paper.
- Combine the whey protein powder, oat flour, cinnamon, mixed spice and sweetener in a mixing bowl and whisk together until thoroughly blended.
- Melt the almond butter with the maple syrup in the microwave using a microwave-safe bowl.
- Combine the dry mixture (#2) with the wet mixture (#3) and mix thoroughly. Add the mashed carrots then stir well until everything turned into a crumbly batter.
- Add the non-dairy milk to thicken the batter then stir until the mixture become firmer. Pour the final mixture into the baking dish and spread and flatten with a spatula or wooden spoon. Refrigerate for at least an hour or until it solidifies a bit.
- Make the frosting by mixing together the three ingredients. Mix well until it forms a thick but spreadable batter. Apply the frosting on top of the cake, which has been refrigerated for at least 30 minutes. Then return the frosted cake inside the refrigerator and leave for at least a half hour more or until both the cake and the frosting becomes firmer.
- Cut into 12 pieces to make smaller protein bars.
Making your own whey protein bar is not only economical but also gives you full control over what ingredients go into what you will eat. Commercially released protein bars usually contain ingredients that are chemically processed in order to drive down the cost of production, which may be detrimental to our health.
They also contain sweeteners to make the product more palatable but potentially fattening and addictive. Moreover, consumers also practically pay the packaging and advertising costs that go its market release.
By the way, you may notice that I mentioned various ingredients above that were not included in the 3 recipes featured here. You can actually add some of those like berries and nuts to different recipes, including on the ones discussed here and for others that you might encounter in the future. So go ahead, be creative and discover new and exciting flavor combinations on your own.