What's the Best Protein Bar for a Low-Carb Diet?

What's the Best Protein Bar for a Low-Carb Diet?

Whether you’re browsing Amazon or lost in the aisles at Walmart or Target, finding the best low-carb protein bar can feel like an epic task.

You just want a healthy on-the-go snack bar that delivers on protein and taste without racking up carbohydrates. But after reading ingredient labels and calculating net carbs, you’re suddenly overwhelmed and ready to give up the quest.

Good thing we have your back! The best protein bars should be a staple in any low-carb or keto diet. They’ll silence hunger pangs, keep sugar cravings away, boost energy levels, and make it easier to stick to your macros.

So let’s dive into the science behind the ideal ingredients to look for and those to avoid when searching for your new favorite low-carb or keto protein bar.

5 Ways To Find the Best Protein Bar for a Low-Carb Diet

Follow these easy tips like a treasure map to uncover the best low-carb or keto-friendly bar for your goals:

1. Look for a Short, Minimally-Processed Ingredients List

Dietitians and nutritionists agree that the shorter the list of ingredients in prepackaged foods, protein bars, or protein shakes, the better. Each ingredient should come from a whole-food source you know. 

See a huge list of ingredients you can’t pronounce or need a chemistry lesson to understand? Hard pass. These are most likely artificial ingredients, preservatives, or highly processed additives.

2. Reconsider Your Ideal Protein Source

When it comes to low-carb living, the right amount of protein is your BFF. It helps you build muscle, torch calories, and ensure weight loss comes primarily from fat.[*][*][*

That’s why a protein-rich breakfast is one of the best morning rituals for weight loss. Protein fills you up and decreases hunger hormones throughout the day.[*

So now that you’re onboard, let’s compare the most popular protein sources:

  • Whey protein powder. Though hefty in the protein department, grass-fed whey protein comes from cow’s milk. This means it’s not a vegan, vegetarian, or dairy-free protein bar option. Whey can also cause digestive issues if you’re lactose-sensitive. 
  • Collagen protein comes from either cow, pork, or marine sources. However, it’s not a complete protein because it lacks the amino acid tryptophan.[*]
  • Egg whites are a rich protein source often used as a carb-free binder in many paleo, high-protein snacks. But it’s not vegetarian or vegan.
  • Soy protein. Over 95% of soybeans grown in the US are genetically modified.[*] Soy protein is also highly processed and has been linked to hormonal disturbances, cancer, and organ toxicity.[*] Going soy-free and non-GMO should be a non-negotiable.
  • Seeds. Hemp protein and chia seeds are healthy, high-quality vegan protein sources. They contain all nine essential amino acids, just like animal protein sources. 
  • Pea protein. Does pea protein make the best vegan protein bar? Studies show consuming whey or pea protein resulted in similar outcomes in overall body composition, muscle thickness, workout performance, and strength.[*]
  • Nuts and nut butters are one of the best sources of plant-based protein. Loaded with healthy fats and fiber, almonds, cashews, and peanuts are gold (as are almond butter and peanut butter).

High-protein bars may be used as a meal replacement, while those on the lower end make ideal snacks. If you’re considering upping your protein intake, learn how much protein you should really eat on a low-carb or ketogenic diet when you’re done here.

3. Aim for High Fiber

Fiber sometimes takes a backseat on a high-protein, low-carb diet. But it makes all the difference in the total carbs vs. net carbs formula. Because they’re not fully digested, you can subtract fiber from a protein bar’s total carbs to get its net carbs. Super low net carbs are the goal.

Both types of fiber support your weight loss journey. They can help you eat less without feeling hungry and encourage regular bowel movements.[*] Then there’s the benefits of prebiotic fiber on gut health.

Tapioca fiber is an example of prebiotic fiber we love at IQBAR. It feeds the healthy bacteria in your gut so they flourish and support an optimal gut microbiome. When our guts ferment these prebiotics, they produce short-chain fatty acids (SCFA) that directly affect our metabolism.

SCFAs stimulate the release of hormones that increase satiation and reduce hunger.[*] So they can enhance weight loss, prevent weight gain, improve insulin sensitivity, and support healthy blood sugar balance.[*][*]

4. Don’t Fall for the Sweet Swindle 

Added sugars are a no-go when hunting for a low-sugar protein bar. Bad news? Researchers say added sugar is hiding in at least 74% of packaged foods and goes by at least 61 different names.[*]

Sugar — even from natural, “healthy” sources (honey, maple syrup, brown rice syrup, agave, etc.) — can spike your blood sugar levels, stall weight loss, and kick you out of ketosis, just like the sugar content in a candy bar. 

Artificial sweeteners (aspartame, sucralose, acesulfame potassium, etc.) may elevate your cortisol levels (the stress hormone), negatively affect your gut health, skyrocket sugar cravings, increase overeating and weight gain, and trigger headaches, migraines, depression, insomnia, and more.[*][*][*]

Sugar alcohols (erythritol, sorbitol, xylitol, mannitol, maltitol, etc.) run rampant in anything labeled “low-carb” or “keto.” Studies show these disrupt your gut microbiome and cause digestive discomfort like gas, bloating, tummy pain, diarrhea, constipation, and other unpleasant woes.[*]

So stick to the top keto sweeteners: stevia and monk fruit. 

5. Snatch Up Power-Ups for Your Body and Brain

IQBARs are formulated around five key brain-boosting nutrients shown to support cognitive energy, performance, and health: 

  • MCT oil. MCTs provide a readily available and sustained energy source for your brain, enhancing mental clarity and focus.[*]
  • Flavonoids and vitamin E. These potent anti-inflammatory antioxidants help protect your brain from free radical damage and may support cognitive function and memory.[*]
  • Magnesium. Intake of this mineral is correlated with larger brain volumes, better brain health, enhanced memory, stronger mental performance, and a reduced risk of developing cognitive impairment.[*][*][*][*] It's also involved in over 300 biochemical processes within the body.
  • Lion’s Mane mushroom. Dubbed the “smart mushroom,” this nootropic may enhance your focus, creativity, and thinking while supporting the growth of new brain cells.[*][*][*] Since it’s also an adaptogen, it may reduce depression, stress, and anxiety too.[*][*

  • So, How Does IQBAR Stack Up?

    IQBAR is the best keto, vegan, low-carb protein bar you’ve been searching for.

    ✅  No bad stuff here. With a short list of minimally processed ingredients, every IQBAR is non-GMO, gluten-free, dairy-free, and soy-free. Sweetened with stevia, our bars only contain one or two grams of sugar (depending on flavor). They’re also certified Kosher.

    🌱  Chock full of clean vegan protein. Pea protein makes up about 25% of each IQBAR. It contains all nine essential amino acids, and it’s easily digestible, highly bioavailable, and far more environmentally friendly than animal proteins. Each IQBAR packs 12 grams of protein.

    💪  The best brain and body-boosting nutrients. In addition to all five of those brain-enhancing nutrients, IQBAR is loaded with ingredients that enhance strength, stamina, and metabolism. You’ll find up to 6-9 grams of fiber to support your gut microbiome, ketone-promoting MCTs, and clean, energizing fats.

    🤤  Sweet tooth-satisfying flavors. Skip the artificial birthday cake and embrace the natural flavors of our:

    • Lemon Blueberry: We use whole lemons, so you know this refreshing bar is legit.
    • Almond Butter Chip: Creamy, chocolatey almond butter with a pleasant graham cracker-like finish. 
    • Banana Nut: Real bananas make it taste just like freshly made banana nut bread – minus the regret.
    • Matcha Chai: Smooth Japanese matcha becomes besties with sweet, spicy chai.
    • Chocolate Sea Salt: Decadent, salty-sweet, dark chocolate brownie with none of the guilt! We use ground cacao beans in their rawest state for maximum nutrition and energy.
    • Peanut Butter Chip: Think rich, peanut butter chocolate chip cookie dough… that’s actually healthy.
    • Wild Blueberry: Ever forage real wild blueberries on a hike? It tastes like that.
    • Toasted Coconut Chip: Crunchy coconut flakes perfectly balanced with rich chocolate chips.

    Ready To Taste The Best Protein Bar for a Low-Carb Diet?

    Choosing the best low-carb protein bar doesn’t have to be a daunting task. Now that you know how to sleuth high-quality protein sources, snag the right carbs, and stay away from sweet saboteurs, making informed choices that align with your health and weight loss goals is easy.

    IQBAR is the ultimate low-carb protein bar to embark on your new wellness journey with all the confidence and flavor you deserve.

    🥳  Grab the IQBAR Sampler to throw your taste buds a party where every flavor’s invited! But don’t blame us if you can’t pick a favorite (we can’t either).