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Best Keto-Friendly Low Carb Protein Bars

By Angelo Sorbello

The quest for finding a protein bar with minimal sugar, low carb, and good taste is challenging but not impossible. The market presents a multitude of options, making the decision even harder to make.

 

Not every protein bar is suitable for a keto diet or any other diet actually. If you want to lose weight or get rid of body fats, you don’t want to end up with a protein bar that exhibits the properties of a Snickers bar.

 

The good news is that there is a good portion of the market concerned with formulating protein bars tailored to your needs. You don’t need to worry about ketosis anymore. Throughout this article, I’ll be guiding you around some healthy options and what to look for when you’re shopping.

 

Keto protein bars – Buying Guide

To decide which protein bars to get, you need to familiarize yourself more with Keto diet itself. If you need more info, click here.

 

Despite the keto diet demands more protein than regular diets. Protein consumption needs to be watched closely, especially in the case of processed food. This is not to be taken lightly.

Are protein bars good or bad?

Adding an extra punch of protein to your balanced diet can be a smart health decision. As an on-the-go snack between meals or a pre-workout snack, a protein bar would suffice as a junk-food alternative.

 

Its health benefits include increased muscle mass, helping to reduce body fat and stabilize blood sugar. Like anything, it has some side effects. These are easily avoidable if consumed moderately with consideration.

 

Ingredients like MCT oils, grass-fed protein sources, CLA and coconut oil have ample effects that help in the fat burning process.

 

Integrity demands that I tell you these bars are not as healthy as they might seem. Meaning, their advertising exaggerates the benefits to sell the products. I’m not saying they’re harmful. All I’m saying is that it’s still processed food.

 

So, whenever you have the choice between natural and processed go for natural. Leave the processed option for times when it’s truly needed. Moderation is key here.

How much protein bars should I take per day?

This depends on some factors like the nutritional facts of the bar, your diet, and your daily calorie intake. While they provide good protein content, most of them are high in fats and calories.

 

Most athletes and bodybuilders regularly consume one or two per day. I don’t advise you do that every day though.

What is the best time of the day to consume protein bars?

Adjusting your protein bar eating time around your workouts is the best practice. If you decide to make it a pre-workout snack you should take it 1 or 2 hours beforehand. It will help boost your energy.

 

You can also eat it after a workout to aid the muscle recovery process. These options are optimal for your health. Another good time is between meals, to be honest; this doesn’t add up specific health benefits. However, it can help you avoid less healthy options.

What to look for in a low-carb protein bar?

Protein content & type

The first thing to look for obviously is how much protein the bar contains. Aim for 20g of protein if you want to capture some real benefits. If your bar has less protein content, you can make up for it by adding a handful of nuts.

 

The protein source is as equally important; common sources include whey protein, soy, peas or milk. Needless to say, you have to watch out for any allergies you have.

 

In some products, you will find me referring to something called: grass-fed protein source. This basically means that the cows that produce this whey protein are raised traditionally; they feed on natural grass. Unlike others that are pumped with steroids or antibiotics that subsequently harm us as consumers.

 

Why does it matter? These protein sources have increased levels of omega-3, higher CLA content and minerals like calcium and potassium. So, whenever you find the grass-fed label, consider it a plus!

Low Carb

A pillar of the Keto diet is scrapping off carbohydrates. This is a key feature to look for when you’re searching for a suitable protein bar. Aim for 10g of carb or less to ensure the bar doesn’t knock you out of ketosis.

 

Another way of looking at it is to look for the protein/ carb ratio, should it be 2:1 or around it, you’re good to go.

 

Fibers

Fibers fill your stomach and help you feel fuller for longer periods of time. Look for bars with 5g or more of fibers per serving. In addition, the higher fiber content makes up for the low carb content.

Sugar

Another important factor to consider is the sugar intake per serving. It should be less than 8g per bar and the less the better. Always look for nutrients yourself because just because it’s a protein bar doesn’t mean that it’s sugar-free.

 

Some protein bars taste like candy bars and it comes at a price. You don’t want something with a high glycemic index that will spike your blood sugar.

 

Note that artificial sweeteners are not good for you; steer away from erythritol, sorbitol, and maltitol. They have a bad reputation.

Fats

From a calorie counting perspective, a minimal amount of fats is required. However, in keto fats are approved to some extent. Not too much though. 10 – 15g of fats is just about right. Watch out for hydrogenated oils and palm oil.

Calories

Make sure that this protein bar doesn’t surpass your daily calorie intake. Ideally, it should be between 180 to 220 calories for a snack. Maybe up to 300 is approved if you’re looking for a meal replacement.

Ingredients

It’s unlikely for normal people to know every single element in the ingredients list. A rule of thumb is that; the fewer ingredients, the better. They indicate that fewer chemicals are used and that it’s mainly made of natural components.

What about Sugar Alcohols?

All of us know that sugar is not good for our health. More experienced people know about “sugar alcohols”, which are sugar alternatives derived from plants with lower carbohydrates. This seems like an attractive additive to sweeten your food. The ugly truth is that it’s not.

 

The problem with sugar alcohols is that they’re not fully metabolized nor absorbed by the body. This results in lower calorie intake. But comes at the cost of staying in your gut unabsorbed. This might cause inflammation, irritation or a laxative effect.

 

While it’s hard to escape this kind of sweeteners, there are some products free of them. I tend to prefer these products over others to avoid any undesirable side effects from sugar alcohols.

 

This matter is highly debatable and some people defend them and argue about their benefits. In the end, it’s okay to consume them moderately if you have too. Kow that they come under different names like Erythritol, Sorbitol, Maltitol, and Lactitol.

Best Low Carb Protein Bars

Stoka Bars – Long Lasting Protein Bars

Made especially for Keto diet, these Stoka Bars achieve the desired goal of getting a tasty protein bar with minimum carb intake.

 

Each bar contains 9g of protein, 5g of fiber, and 4g of carb, which adds up to 260 calories that can keep you going the whole day. All ingredients are natural, mainly almond and inulin with erythritol and stevia extracts. They’re Gluten, Soy, GMO, and Whey free.

 

It’s worthy to note that there’s no liquid element to bind the ingredients of these bars. Hence, they’re crumbly. Some consumers said it was way too crunchy to eat. This is something to keep in mind, especially if your teeth won’t be helping. If you’d like something chewy, stay away from these.

 

Besides being Keto-friendly, the manufacturers claim that the bars are suitable for Paleo and low carb diets, as well. They will serve as a light snack to curb your cravings and keep you going for the rest of the day.

 

The package has 8 bars and they have 2 flavor options: Cocoa Almond & Vanilla Almond. Some consumers complained of quality control, where they received packages that were badly stored or missing bars. What makes it worse is that they are non-refundable. However, this is not the general case, just a small probability.

Pros

  • Only 4g net carbs
  • 1 bar lasts for a day
  • Soy & Gluten free

Cons

  • Some consumers reported packaging problems
  • Low protein
  • Relatively expensive
  • Limited flavors

ProSource Protein Bar – Best Taste Award

If your priority is taste, ProSource Protein Bar might be your winner choice. With a rich tasty wafer base that provides an airy texture with only 4g of sugar & 8g of carb.

 

The whey & milk protein blend is abundant in this product, making it suitable for Keto dieters. It would be nice to use it to fuel your body before a workout as it can help with muscle building.

If the extremely delicious taste is making you suspicious. Well, you should be. The fat percentage is high here. Despite being acceptable to consume fats while being on Keto. Too many fats can reverse the weight loss process.

 

The wholesome natural ingredients contribute to the nutritional value. It contains flaxseed oil, real chocolate, and peanut. In addition to the high protein content per bar which mounts to 15g.

 

There are 12 bars per box and it comes in 3 flavors: chocolate peanut butter, French toast cream, and double chocolate cream. It’s convenient as an on-the-go snack between meals, or before workouts.

 

One of the popular sweeteners in sugar-free products is Sugar Alcohol. It is approved in the Keto diet but not the best option though, as it’s not easy to digest. The good news is that Prosource is Sugar Alcohol-free. It’s Gelatin & soy free too.

 

Using these bars every now and then might be the smart fix for the carb-protein tradeoff. You can enjoy the good as a treat, but not every day.

Pros

  • Added wafer is a desirable feature
  • High protein intake per bar (15 g)
  • Candy-like taste

Cons

  • High-fat content (14g per bar)
  • Relatively pricey

Keto-Crave Fat Protein Bar – Beginner’s Choice

This protein bar solves the problems of beginner keto dieters who are still navigating their ways through the dietary restrictions. They help you get an energy boost with a savory taste and proper macronutrient intake.

 

The nutritional value is satisfying;  9g of protein, 2g of sugar, 8g of fiber, 16g of fat and most importantly only 5g of carb.

 

However, they’re filled with added ingredients for flavor. Like Isomalto-Oligosaccharide (IMO) syrup, an ingredient that many swear by as a natural low carb sweetener. The truth is that the IMO added to processed protein bars is not natural by any means. Hence, adding carbs to the acclaimed carb content.

 

Luckily, it’s not one of those cardboard protein bars that you have to drink 3 glasses of water to swallow. Featuring cacao butter sourced from cocoa beans, organic almond butter, and chicory root fiber.

 

These ingredients not only taste good but they have numerous health benefits ranging from improving cardiovascular health, skin health, immune function, and nutrient absorption.

 

On top of that, they contain MCT oil that helps improve mental health and focus as it aids ketone production. It also promotes heart functions and helps in weight loss.

 

Personally, I recommend this option for beginners to get them going. For experienced dieters, you might look for other options with less controversial sweeteners.

Pros

  • Provides a good energy boost
  • Delicious

Cons

  • Contains added flavors (IMO syrup)
  • Bar size is small

Quest Nutrition Hero Protein Bar – Best Nutritional Profile

There is a reason why you’ll probably find the Quest protein bars on nearly every low carb protein list on the internet. Most probably it’s due to its nutrition profile.

 

The bar is 190 calories; 21g of protein, 8-10g of fat and 4g of carbs. This grants you an ample protein dose without unnecessary carbs; the very basic requirement of a Keto diet. I also appreciate the fiber percentage in these bars being higher than other alternatives, which is about 13g.

 

It comes in 3 flavors: blueberry cobbler, chocolate caramel, and vanilla caramel. There are 10 and 12 bars packs. The option of a variety pack is also available. There’s no aftertaste to any of these flavors.

 

These bars serve as meal replacements, post-workout snacks or even as desserts. For added exquisite taste, you might put them in the microwave for some time.

 

Worthy to note that the Quest Hero bars are a newer version of the regular Quest bars. Some consumers reported that the liked the older version better because it tasted less sweet.

Pros

  • Gluten & Soy free
  • High protein intake per bar compared to its size
  • Long shelf life

Cons

  • Has soluble corn fiber –not keto friendly-
  • Some consumers reported stomach problems
  • Contains sugar alcohol
  • Milk & Whey protein isolate blend is not the best protein source for Keto

 

Atlas Keto/Low Carb Protein Bar – Best Ingredients Award

Claiming to be the “cleanest protein bar on the planet” due to the grass-fed whey protein from New Zealand. Atlas bars are an interesting choice for Keto and low carb dieters.

 

Thanks to creamy almond butter and dark chocolate chips, these bars have a savory taste that you wouldn’t expect in a regular protein bar. Moreover, the almond/ peanut butter base makes them chewy. Almost no customers reported a gritty or chalky mouthfeel from them.

 

The 16g of protein suit Keto, but the 9g of net carb isn’t the lowest carb content possible. The calories intake is about 220 calories per bar. These boys need to be consumed with caution.

 

Everyone on Keto knows that keeping a smooth bowel movement while on keto is challenging. This is not the case for Atlas Bars; they’re easy to digest and do not cause stomach problems even if you consume multiple ones a day.

 

The flavors available are Peanut Butter Chip, Vanilla Almond, and Chocolate Cacao. These achieve the goal of making the bars taste well without adding sugar. Only 3g of sugar per bar.

 

One pitfall is that the expiration period is short, one month after shipping to be exact. It’s not advisable to stock them.

Pros

  • Gluten, Soy & GMO-free
  • No artificial additives
  • Low sugar content

Cons

  • Too chewy for some consumers
  • A bit pricey
  • Sticky

No Cow Protein Bars – Best Vegan Protein Bar Award

Are you a vegan going on Keto? No worries, we’ve got you covered. The No Cow bars are loaded with plant-based protein (21g) with no dairy derivatives. It’s also Gluten & Soy free.

 

It has 20g of protein per bar and the sugar portion is as small as 1g. I don’t know about you but, I love to indulge in a bag of Reese’s chocolate every now and then. You’d tell me it’s impossible to do while on Keto. But let me tell you that the Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip No Cow protein bar will give you the same effect without ruining your diet.

 

The No Cow bars come in plenty of flavors and they blur the line between healthy & tasty. They have a decent nutrient profile full of antioxidants and minerals.

 

Unfortunately, there’s an ugly side to this product; the IMO syrup that we previously discussed. This means that the actual carbohydrate ratio exceeds the advertised value.

 

The texture is inconsistent though, it comes off as chalky. The carb content is 24g per bar. Honestly, this makes me skeptical about whether it’s the best option for Keto. Yet it’s among the best vegan options after all.

Pros

  • Vegan
  • No corn fiber
  • Dairy-free
  • Low sugar

Cons

  • Has palm oil
  • Unpleasant texture
  • Contains IMO syrup
  • High carb content

 

MariGold Protein Bars – Editor’s Choice Award

True to their claim, MariGold provide the “Gold Standard” of protein bars. They combine the benefits of the previously mentioned bars and present them through their hand-crafted protein bars that are made with love.

 

The MariGold bars have built a loyal customer base due to their clean ingredient list and the extra care they put into the manufacturing process. They have 20+ g of grass-fed whey isolate protein per bar.

 

When they say it “feels like you’re eating a cheat meal”, they mean it. Each bar has 280 calories, which is plenty of calories, to be honest. The good news is that half a bar will suffice for a snack!

 

This comes in 12 flavors to suit everyone’s taste, it’ll be hard to list all of them here. Nevertheless, the most distinct ones include salty caramel, espresso, cookie dough, and chocolate praline. They’re extra chewy which might be bothersome to those who’d rather like a chunky feel.

 

They have a “Very low Keto Pack”, with only 2-3g of carb. This would be a nice way to kick start your keto diet plan if you’re a beginner.

 

Note that these are handmade and has zero preservatives; this is why you need to store them in the refrigerator upon receipt. I recommend heating them before eating for a rich taste.

 

Pros

  • No sugar alcohol
  • GMO-free
  • Lactose, hormone, and soy free
  • Variety of flavors

Cons

  • Noticeable stevia taste that might cause an aftertaste
  • Sticky and might be easy to get off your teeth
  • Wrapping is not easy to open
  • Expensive compared to others

 

Wrap up

Despite the tons of overwhelming options available. It seems like that finding a guilt-free snack isn’t that hard after all. You will probably have to make some kind of compromise though, whether by withstanding the high-fat content or the crunchy texture. Yet, there are options out there that get the mix between taste and health just right.

 

As I’ve stated earlier, my personal favorite is the MariGold Protein Bars series. To me, they’re just the whole package! They wrap up tons of benefits; a good taste, a valuable nutrition profile and organic ingredients. The hand-made touch and care put into this product are really appealing. The high protein content is definitely a plus. All of these reasons make it a sensible choice for a nice snack!

 

Always keep in mind that these options are treats or snacks to help you maintain a healthier lifestyle. The priority is always for raw natural food.

 

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About the Author

Sushi and coffee enthusiast. I build companies that make a positive difference.

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