Homemade Protein Bars – Protein Powder Basics

What are the different protein powders?

When I first started to look into making my own homemade protein bars one of the things that confused me right off the bat was which protein powder to use. Did I need to buy all those different types of protein powder before I got started? And what were the main differences between each type? In this post I decided to just run through the main types of protein powders out there and some of the major differences between them. Remember however that each brand of each of protein powder might be slightly different. So always try and choose one without added sugar or artificial sweeteners.  Or at least be aware of what has been added. Check the ingredients list and the nutritional information.

Here are 6 types of Protein Powders for Homemade Protein Bars:

Whey Protein Powder

This is the most popular type of protein powder out there due to its high protein percentage and its capacity to be easily digested by your body fast. Whey is a by-product from making cheese, and is one of two major protein components of cow’s milk. Therefore homemade protein bars made with whey protein powder will not be vegan friendly but will have heaps of other great health benefits.

homemade protein bars

Photo credit: las – initially / / CC BY-NC-ND

The three main types of whey protein powders you will see out there are whey protein isolate (>90% protein), whey protein concentrate (30-90% protein) and whey protein hydrolysate (partially hydrolysed for the purpose of easier metabolising.  Any of these can be used for your homemade protein bars. However using whey protein isolate will add more protein to your bar without the added carbohydrates included in the other whey protein powder options.

Whey protein powder tends to make your bars a little dry if substituting for flour. So you may need to add a little extra greek yogurt or applesauce, coconut oil or another “wet” ingredient included in the recipe for your homemade protein bar. This is also the case if substituting whey for another protein powder such as casein.  I have been mixing whey protein powder with a vegan protein powder blend of brown rice, hemp and pea protein powder with great results.

Casein Protein Powder

Casein protein powder is also made from cow’s milk and therefore not vegan friendly. However it is again great to bake homemade protein bars with. It also tends to be a bit less dry then whey protein powder. It can still dry out your homemade protein bar however if substituting in place of a flour. If whey protein was called the ‘fast protein powder’ then casein is the ‘slow protein powder’ as your body digests casein protein powder more slowly.

Soy Protein Powder

Soy Protein Powder can be an alternative choice for those avoiding any dairy based products in their diets. Made from soy beans, soy protein powder is a plant based source of protein that is just as digestible as other sources of protein.  Soy protein isolate is found in many brand name protein bars and can be used for your homemade protein bars as well.  It can be substituted for whey protein in most recipes.

homemade protein bars

Photo credit: kattebelletje / / CC BY-NC

Although it may be a little harder to find try to go for an organic soy protein isolate for your homemade protein bars if possible.  In order to avoid any potential issues with some of the genetically modified soy products available and the effects of any pesticides or chemicals that may have been used.

Hemp Protein Powder

Hemp protein powder is another great option for homemade protein bars. A protein powder option for vegans, or those on a raw food diet; hemp protein is made from hemp seeds and has a bunch of additional health benefits. As well as being a great source of protein. One of the most beneficial qualities of hemp protein is its omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Which can improve brain function and cardiovascular health, reduce joint pain and inflammation as well as having a number of other health benefits.

Hemp protein powder is great to use in a blend with pea or brown rice protein powders for your homemade protein bars. It can also be used for savoury protein powder baking.

homemade protein bars

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Pea Protein Powder

Pea protein powder is another vegan option made from yellow split peas like the ones you would use to make a pea soup. It’s a great option for people who suffer from food sensitivities as its free of lactose, soy and gluten.  Pea protein is really good to use for savory homemade protein bars. However it can definitely be used for sweet ones as well. Ill be sure to post a savory protein bar recipe using pea protein powder into the future.

If substituting for a whey protein powder use a little more than the recommended amount of wet ingredients such as coconut oil or unsweetened applesauce. As it will tend to absorb a little more of these ingredients when compared to using whey. Mixing whey protein powder with a vegan protein blend can also produce really great homemade protein bar results.

homemade protein bars

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Brown Rice Protein Powder

Brown rice protein powder can be a good option for savory or sweet protein bar creations as well. It’s also OK for raw food, gluten free and vegan diets.  It’s made by separating the protein in brown rice from the grain or starch. Although it will generally have a higher carbohydrate percentage than whey or casein it’s a great option for a plant based powder.

Brown rice protein powder can also be used in a blend for your homemade protein bars. Either with whey if you want to increase the protein percentage of your homemade protein bars or with the other vegan protein powder options.

homemade protein bars

Photo credit: Dan McKay / / CC BY

Generally you can use any of the protein powders listed above in any of the protein bar recipes. However you just need some different proportions of ingredients for the different  recipes. If you have any recipes, either mine or someone else’s, and you want to know how to substitute your favorite protein powder, just send me an email at and I should be able to set you on the right path.

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