July 11, 2017

The Truth Behind Low Carb Protein Bars

We dug deep on this one for you and after crunching some numbers found the Low Carb Protein Bars are not all they claim to be! We go through not three, not seven, but 12 different protein bars, giving you what we have found the actual carb counts to be according to the ingredients on their labels! Which ones do you think you should stay away from, but more importantly which ones are actually ok to enjoy from time to time?! Check it out below!

Free Keto Friendly Food List

​Disclaimer: The views expressed in this blog post are our opinions and we are not to be held responsable for the accuracy of this information.

What Ingredients Make Up These High Fiber Low Carb Foods?

Isomalto-Oligosaccharide (IMO): Originally thought to be completely undigested, but when tested it was found to be partially digested by the human body. Therefore, it should not all be subtracted as claimed in many low carb protein bars.

  • Count: 50% of total carbs
  • Glycemic Index: 35

Soluble Corn Fiber (SCF): Not a lot of research backing its actual impact on the human body. SCF generally does not show an impact on blood glucose when readings are done.

  • Count: 10% of total carbs (our educated guess)​

Other Fibers: Chicory Root Fiber,  Polydextrose, Tapioca Fiber, Glycerin

  • Used occasionally in some protein bars
  • When used either fully subtracted or counted as 10% of total carbs

Maltitol: This is the sugar alcohol that will have the biggest carb impact on your body. It is used in a lot of "low carb" packaged goods, but we like to avoid it at all costs. 

  • Count: 50% of total carbs
  • Glycemic Index: 35-65

Erythritol: Our personal favorite sugar alcohol to use, especially in baked goods! Undigested by the body making it extremely low, if at all counted towards your macros for the day.

  • Count: 0% of total carbs
  • Glycemic Index: 0

Sucralose: A lot of bars contain this sugar alcohol and it is non-digested by the body making it a noncaloric sugar alcohol. It's something I would prefer not to see on a label since it's long term effects aren't fully understood yet, but it doesn't act as carbs on your body.

  • Count: 0% of total carbs
  • Glycemic Index: 0

Allulose: Relatively new on the scene and is featured in the new quest bars (cereal and hero). Allulose is categorized as a rare sugar and is undigested by the human body. 

  • Count: 0% of total carbs
  • Glycemic Index: 0​

What Keto Protein Bars Are We Testing?

To choose the bars for this test we simply ran to the local GNC and bought every single low carb protein bar offering. It turned out to be 12! That's a lot. Here's the complete list that we included:

Robert Irvine's Fit Elite Bars
D's Naturals No Cow Bars
Quest Cereal Bars
Quest Hero Bars
Quest Bar
BPI Sports Best Protein Bar
Muscle Tech Mission Clean Protein Bar
ANSI Gourmet Cheesecake Bar
Keto Bars
Oh Yeah One Bars
Grenade Carb Killa Bar
Atkins Lift Bars

low carb protein bars all bars

Let's get to it!

The truth is, just about every bar has more impact carbs than listed on the label. Whether it be due to rounding or subtracting ingredients that should not be fully subtracted from the carb counts, it's safe to assume any bar you eat is actually higher in carbs than it claims. While all of these bars are great for convenience, they should be limited as much as possible. 

​Robert Irvine's Fit Elite Bars

The Claim: 4g Net Carbs

Our Estimate: 9.5g Net Carbs

Undesirable Ingredients:

  • IMO Syrup
  • Vegetable Oil
  • Rice Flour
  • Sucralose

low carb protein bars fit elite

D's Naturals No Cow Bar

The Claim: 4g Net Carbs

Our Estimate: 10.7g Net Carbs

Undesirable Ingredients:

  • IMO Syrup

Note: These bars contain really good ingredients. The only downside is that they use IMO syrup which makes the impact carb count significantly higher than listed.

low carb protein bars no cow bar

Quest Cereal Bars

The Claim: 3g Net Carbs

Our Estimate: 3.6g Net Carbs

Undesirable Ingredients:

  • Sucralose

low carb protein bars cereal bar

Quest Hero Bars

The Claim: 4g Net Carbs

Our Estimate: 5g Net Carbs

Undesirable Ingredients:

  • Sucralose

Note: While our estimate is close to what these bars claim, some caution should be exercised with these. There are 30g total carbs, which is A LOT, even if most of them can be subtracted.

low carb protein bars quest hero bar

Quest Bars

The Claim: 4g Net Carbs

Our Estimate: 5.4g Net Carbs

Undesirable Ingredients:

  • Sucralose

low carb protein bars quest bars

BPI Best Protein Bar

The Claim: 6g Net Carbs

Our Estimate: 14.6g Net Carbs

Undesirable Ingredients:

  • IMO Syrup
  • Sucralose
  • Natural and Artificial Flavors
  • Maltitol

low carb protein bars bpi best protein bar

Muscletech Mission One

The Claim: 5g Net Carbs

Our Estimate: 11g Net Carbs

Undesirable Ingredients:

  • IMO Syrup
  • Natural Flavor
  • Canola Oil
  • Soybean Oil

low carb protein bars mission one

ANSI Gourmet Cheesecake

The Claim: 6g Net Carbs

Our Estimate: 6g Net Carbs

Undesirable Ingredients:

  • Honey

low carb protein bars cheesecake

Keto Bars

The Claim: 2g Net Carbs

Our Estimate: 2g Net Carbs

Undesirable Ingredients:

Note: These are a category of their own, since this was the only bar tested that is specifically made for a keto diet. That being said, these are clearly the best choice.

low carb protein bars keto bars

Oh Yeah! One Bars

The Claim: 4g Net Carbs

Our Estimate: 9.8g Net Carbs

Undesirable Ingredients:

  • IMO Syrup
  • Maltitol
  • Natural Flavors
  • Sucralose
low carb protein bars one bar

Grenade Carb Killa

The Claim: 2g Net Carbs

Our Estimate: 8.2g Net Carbs

Undesirable Ingredients:

  • Maltitol
  • Soy Protein Isolate
  • Natural Flavors
  • Sucralose
low carb protein bars grenade carb killa

Atkins Lift Bar

The Claim: 4g Net Carbs

Our Estimate: 6g Net Carbs

Undesirable Ingredients:

  • Natural Flavors
  • Sucralose
low carb protein bars atkins lift

Our Takeaways

​With quest bars being the most widely available low carb bars, there is really no reason to turn to any of these other bars. As a change of pace, or if the taste of quest bars aren't your favorite, Atkins Lift Bars and ANSI Gourmet Cheesecake Bars are both reasonable options. Both of which are also widely available. The absolute best bar tested was Keto Bars. While these can't be found in stores, they can be ordered online and are definitively the best option for keto. Let us know what your favorite bars are in the comments!

low carb protein bars pinterest

References

IMO Carb Counts: 
http://easacademy.org/trainer-resources/article/isomalto-oligosaccharides

Soluble Corn Fiber Insulin Response: 
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19155430

Glycemic Index and Sweetener Carb Counts: 
http://www.sugar-and-sweetener-guide.com/

Short Chain Fatty Acids Help With Weight Control:
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26260141

Soluble Corn Fiber Info(corn industry site):
https://fiberfacts.org/soluble-corn-fiber/

Megha Barot

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