The Best Diabetes-Friendly Protein Bars
Protein bars make for a quick, energizing snack, but choosing a good option when you have diabetes can seem a bit daunting. Many protein bars appear healthy, but are actually loaded with sugar and more closely resemble a candy bar than a health food.
Fortunately, that’s not always the case. There are a number of diabetes-friendly protein bars out there—you just need to know what to look for. That’s where we come in! In this article, we’ll be sharing the best protein bars for diabetics, but first, let’s set some groundwork.
What Makes a Protein Bar Diabetes Friendly?
If you have diabetes, your pancreas is unable to make a blood sugar-regulating hormone called insulin, or your body cannot effectively use the insulin it produces.
Not being able to produce insulin or properly use it leads to raised blood glucose levels, which can cause damage to the body over time.
When it comes to enjoying protein bars as someone with diabetes, the goals are to satisfy your appetite, gain an energy boost, and keep your blood sugar steady. To accomplish these goals:
- Keep it light: Aim for protein bars with 150-250 calories. This calorie range will tame your appetite without leaving you feeling too full, spiking your blood sugar, or packing on pounds.
- Limit carbs and sugar: When consumed, carbs break down into glucose, and if too many carbs are consumed at once, your blood sugar can spike too high. For this reason, choose protein bars with 15 grams or less of net carbs. Here’s the formula for net carbs: Total Carbs - Dietary Fiber - Sugar Alcohol = Net Carbs.
- Keep it low sugar: Protein bars that are high in sugar can cause significant blood sugar spikes. Stick to bars that have five grams or less of sugar.
- Look for high protein, fiber, and fat: Choose protein bars that provide a good dose of fiber (at least three grams), protein (at least five grams), and healthy fats, such as coconut oil, nuts, and seeds. These nutrients slow the rate at which carbs are digested, leading to more steady blood sugar levels and energy.[*][*]
When Should You Eat a Protein Bar?
Protein bars make for a convenient grab-and-go snack that’s great to enjoy if:
- You need a quick breakfast: A protein bar can be a good choice if you’re running late in the morning and need a quick meal. Pair it with unsweetened yogurt, a hard-boiled egg, and a handful of nuts to complete the meal.
- You need a snack: Protein bars that are rich in fiber, protein, and healthy fat can help hold you over between meals without spiking your blood sugar.
- You want some pre- or post-workout fuel: Protein plays a vital role in repairing and rebuilding your muscles after exercise. Having a protein-rich bar before or after your workout can aid in this process.
It’s important to note that as a person with diabetes, you shouldn’t use low-carb protein bars to counteract low blood sugar (less than 70mg/dL). When your blood sugar is low, it should be treated immediately with a fast-acting carbohydrate, such as a small glass of orange juice.
Eating a protein bar will not raise your blood sugar quickly enough because fiber, protein, and fat delay carbohydrate metabolism.
The Best Protein Bars for Diabetics
While you can use the above tips to evaluate any protein bar you encounter, we’ve eliminated the detective work for you by rounding up five of the best diabetes-friendly protein bars on the market.
1. Quest Nutrition Bars
Quest Bars are low-sugar, gluten-free, and keto-friendly, and offer a substantial serving of protein. They don’t use soy protein, but rather whey protein isolate and milk protein isolate.
They come in a bunch of tasty flavors like S’mores, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, and White Chocolate Raspberry.
Protein: 20-21 g
Fiber: 13-16 g
Fat: 7-9 g
Net Carbs: 4-5 g
Sugar: 1 g
2. Dang Keto Bars
These vegan, keto protein bars are brimming with diabetes-friendly ingredients like chicory root fiber, cocoa butter, pea protein, sunflower seeds, coconut, and chia seeds. They’re vegan, gluten-free, free of added sugar, and sweetened with stevia, which won’t spike your blood sugar.
Enjoy flavors like Almond Cookie, Lemon Matcha, and Crazy Rich Chocolate.
Protein: 9-10 g
Fiber: 6-7 g
Fat: 15-16 g
Net Carbs: 4-5 g
Sugar: 2-3 g
3. Zing Keto Bars
Zing Keto Bars have everything you could want in a diabetes-friendly snack and nothing you don’t. They’re vegan, soy-free, gluten-free, and keto-friendly, and packed with an abundance of healthy, all-natural ingredients like nuts, cocoa butter, almond protein, MCT powder, and coconut oil.
Find these chewy yet crunchy bars in mouth-watering flavors, including Macadamia Snickerdoodle, Chocolate Almond Cacao, and Peanut Butter Cookie Dough.
Protein: 8-9 g
Fiber: 10 g
Fat: 13-14 g
Net Carbs: 2-3 g
Sugar: 1 g
IQBAR is a keto and vegan protein bar made using clean, diabetes-friendly ingredients like nuts, seeds, pea protein, coconut oil, and unsweetened chocolate.
Not only do these keto bars taste like dessert and provide substantial protein, but they also contain six brain-boosting nutrients, including lion’s mane, MCTs, omega-3s, flavonoids, vitamin E, and choline. Incredible support for your body and brain!
Enjoy mouth-watering flavors like Lemon Blueberry, Almond Butter Chip, Banana Nut, Matcha Chai, and Chocolate Sea Salt.
Protein: 12 g
Fiber: 8 g
Fat: 12-15 g
Net Carbs: 3 g
Sugar: 1-2 g
5. EPIC Keto Bars
Are you a meat lover who’s looking for a protein bar that’s more on the savory side? EPIC Keto Bars could become your new fave. These bars contain only meat and custom spice blends, making them essentially carb-free and a super blood sugar-friendly snack option.
These keto-friendly bars come in four flavors: Venison Salt and Pepper, Chicken Sriracha, Beef Jalapeño, and Beef Salt and Pepper.
Protein: 10-13 g
Fiber: 1-3 g
Fat: 6-10 g
Net Carbs: 0-1 g
Sugar: 0 to less than 1 g
Find Your Favorites
So, there you have it, folks. Enjoy trying the diabetes-friendly protein bars on this list. Once you find your favorites, stock up and keep them in your bag, car, and cupboard so you always have a healthy snack on hand that will keep your appetite at bay and your blood sugar steady.