Which Protein Bars Have the Least Sugar?

Which Protein Bars Have the Least Sugar?

Protein bars are the convenient, portable, healthy snack heroes of the low-carb and keto world. But with all the artificial sweeteners and sugar alcohols lurking on the shelves, finding good-for-you protein bars with the least sugar often feels like a scavenger hunt.

So we’ve done the sugar-sleuthing for you! In this rundown of the best low-sugar protein bars, we’ll compare the ingredients, protein power, carbs, and more to unveil the true champions your body and brain deserve.

Sugar Taming 101: What To Avoid

Before we get to the sweet (and not-so-sweet) details, let’s break down what to look for in a low-sugar protein bar when it comes to sweetening agents.

Sugar (It’s Not That Easy)

Nutritionists and dietitians agree: stay away from processed sugar. But it’s not easy since it goes by over 60 names on ingredient lists. So save this list to ensure your bars, protein powder, and protein shakes aren’t hiding sugar aliases in plain sight.

No Sugar Added Labels

While sugar may not be added to a protein bar, ingredients like fruit, nuts, or chocolate chips can add natural sugar. 

Take RXBAR. You’ll find whole-food ingredients like egg whites, honey, and dates. Even though there’s no added sugar, they clock in up to 18 grams of sugar from other natural sources. Bad news? That type of sugar can still kick you out of ketosis and thwart weight loss goals, just like regular white sugar.

Artificial Sweeteners 

Artificial sweeteners are lurking on the label of many zero-sugar protein bars. The potential side effects of aspartame, sucralose, acesulfame potassium (Ace-K), and other chemical sweeteners include:[*][*][*]

  • Higher blood sugar and insulin levels
  • Intense sugar cravings
  • Overeating and weight gain
  • Poor gut health
  • Elevated cortisol levels (the stress hormone)

Sugar Alcohols

Erythritol, sorbitol, xylitol, mannitol, maltitol, and isomalto-oligosaccharides (IMO) are the most common sugar alcohols in low-sugar protein bars. Because they’re not entirely absorbed during digestion, they’re listed like fiber on nutrition facts. You can subtract sugar alcohols from total carbohydrates to get a much smaller net carb.

Despite this total carbs vs. net carbs perk, studies show sugar alcohols disrupt your gut microbiome and often cause digestive troubles like gas, bloating, abdominal pain, and diarrhea.[*]

So now that we know what we’re up against, let’s start:

Decoding Protein Bars With the Least Sugar

The best protein bars for a low-carb diet keep sugar as close to nil as possible. They also favor stevia and monk fruit, the reigning champs of keto sweeteners. So which popular bars rise to our standards?

Quest Bars

Quest Bars have been around for almost 15 years and come in nearly 20 flavors. Some people use these high-protein keto bars as a meal replacement since they average 20g protein for only 1–2 grams of sugar. 

But that’s where the good news ends. Quest Bars contain soy (a major allergen), sucralose, and up to 9 grams of sugar alcohol (erythritol). If that doesn’t cause digestive woes, the polydextrose and soluble corn fiber (types of fiber additives) might.

Quest also uses a milk protein isolate and whey protein isolate blend, which means they’re not a dairy-free protein bar or approved for plant-based diets.

Perfect Keto Bars

Perfect Keto Bars (not to be confused with their keto-friendly granola bars) are tailored for high-fat keto macros. With 17–19 grams of healthy fats — much more than their 11–13 grams of protein — they’re more keto fat bar than keto protein bar. They only contain one sugar each, making them ideal for any low-carb or keto diet.

Downsides? Perfect Keto Bars are made with collagen, which isn’t a complete protein.[*] This also makes them a no-go on vegan keto or vegetarian keto diets.

These bars only come in four flavors (Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, Salted Caramel, and Almond Butter Brownie), so there’s little variety. Worse? They’re the most expensive option on our list, coming in at $3.75 per bar.

Raw Rev Glo Bars

Raw Rev Glo Bars contain up to 13 grams of high-quality vegan protein from pea protein isolate, brown rice, hemp, and flax. Despite decadent flavors like Double Chocolate Brownie Batter and Crunchy Peanut Butter & Sea Salt, Glo Bars clock between 1–4 grams of sugar each.

But here’s the thing: each bar racks up to 21 grams of carbs (18 grams of net carbs). That’s way too high for keto dieters aiming to stay under 25 carbs per day.

EPIC Bars

Not into high-protein snacks that taste like dark chocolate peanut butter cups? EPIC Bars will be your jam, especially if you’re on a high-protein, low-carb diet.

Each paleo-friendly bar boasts up to 12 grams of pure protein from bison, venison, cows, chickens, and pigs. Most of their ten flavors contain zero sugar. However, these meat treats definitely aren’t safe for vegans or vegetarians. 

No Cow Protein Bars

These high-protein bars provide up to 22 grams of pea and rice protein for just one sugar. That may be hard to believe with flavors like Chocolate Fudge Brownie and Birthday Cake.

Just beware of these high-fiber snacks. They pack 17 grams of fiber and 8 grams of sugar alcohol, which may lead to digestive issues.

Bulletproof Collagen Protein Bar and Protein Crisp Bar

Bulletproof Collagen Protein Bars pack 11 grams of protein thanks to cashew butter and hydrolyzed collagen. You’ll find 2 grams of sugar and between 4–5 net carbs. There are only four flavors, so you may get bored quickly.

The Protein Crisp Bars are Bulletproof’s plant-based protein option. They’re chewy with crunchy pieces from protein crisps and nuts. Pea protein and nut butter combine for 11 grams of protein. Then there’s one gram of sugar, two grams of erythritol, and up to four net carbs. 

So, Who Really Takes the Crown? IQBAR, Hands Down

IQBAR is the low-sugar protein bar that high-fives your tastebuds, nourishes your noggin, and supports better overall health.

🌱  Clean vegan protein bars for a better planet and you. Each IQBAR provides 12 grams of eco-friendly pea protein. This complete protein source contains all nine essential amino acids. It’s easily digestible, highly bioavailable, and supports your muscles, workout performance, and overall body composition.[*]

🎉  Prebiotic fiber. IQBARs contain 7-10 grams of tapioca fiber to feed the healthy bacteria in your gut. This produces short-chain fatty acids that reduce hunger and increase feelings of fullness.[*] That’s why the benefits of prebiotic fiber include weight loss, weight gain prevention, improved insulin sensitivity, and healthy blood sugar balance.[*][*]

✅  No suspect ingredients. Our short list of minimally processed whole foods makes every IQBAR a non-GMO, gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, and Kosher win for your wellness goals.

😋  Keto-friendly flavors you’ll crave. There’s only 1–2 grams of sugar and 3 net carbs per bar. So now you can ditch the cardboard snack bars and chalky energy bars for our Almond Butter Chip, Banana Nut, Chocolate Sea Salt, Lemon Blueberry, Matcha Chai, Peanut Butter Chip, Wild Blueberry, and Toasted Coconut Chip delights.

The IQBAR Brain-Boosting Formula

IQBARs are formulated around six key brain-boosting nutrients that support cognitive energy, mental performance, and long-term brain health. These additions catapult IQBAR to the head of the pack: 

  • Omega-3s. Your body can’t make these essential fatty acids, so your diet must supply them. Most omega-3s come from high-fat fish; ours come from plant-based, fiber-rich flaxseeds.
  • MCT oil. This readily available and sustained energy source for your brain skyrockets mental clarity and focus.[*]
  • Flavonoids and vitamin E. Potent anti-inflammatory antioxidants help shield your cranium from free radical damage and may support better brain power.[*]
  • Choline. Consuming more of this science-backed brain health supplement may improve your memory, mental prowess, and moods while decreasing your risks of Alzheimer’s disease.[*][*
  • Lion’s Mane mushroom. Dubbed the “smart mushroom,” this nootropic may enhance your focus, creativity, and thinking skills while supporting the growth of new brain cells.[*][*][*] It’s also an adaptogen that may lower stress, anxiety, and symptoms of depression.[*][*

Ditch the Sugar, Fuel Your Fire

Whether you nosh them post-workout or while trekking the Amazon rainforest, low-sugar protein bars are the kind of hero that comes to your rescue when you need to outsmart your cravings and fuel your body right. Now that you know what separates the best from the worst, you can power forward with the low-carb protein boost you deserve.

👑  Treat yourself to the IQBAR Sampler — a variety pack featuring every flavor of the best low-sugar plant-based protein bars on the planet! 

PS: Did you know you can grab IQBARs for as little as $1.77 each when you bundle?  🤯

 

Written by Lauren Ciccarelli, a writer and research geek passionate about low-carb nutrition, mental health, and meditation. Her 2,500+ articles empower doers with science-backed tips for leveled-up living.