It’s time to talk about something: snacking on the keto diet and how much of a complete bummer it can be. (Unless you’re into carrying around shots of whole cream or sizzling steaks as snacks; in which case, weird.)
But it’s time to dry your tears, keto dieters: There are tons of keto protein bars out there that will keep your hanger-induced rage at bay. You just have to be a little more discerning when it comes to what’s in your go-to bar (more of that later).
First, in order for a protein bar to be keto-friendly it has to be low in carbohydrates and high in fats—the basics of keto—so that a product or recipe contains up to 60 to 75 percent fat, 15 to 20 percent protein, and 10 percent or less of carbs, says Lauren O’Connor, RD, owner of Nutri Savvy Health. “That being said, as long as your low-carb bar has quality, whole ingredients and plenty of healthy fats, the numbers don’t have to be exact.”
While the numbers don’t have to be perfect, the closer a bar is to the ratio, the better, as this will help you meet your daily macro needs. (Quick refresher: The keto diet is all about counting your macros—a.k.a. how many grams of carbs, fat, and protein you eat on the reg. So, sticking to O’Connor’s recommended ratio will help you choose protein bars that best support all this macro counting or, simply, the diet.)
Another priority when picking a keto protein bar? Whole-food ingredients, O’Connor says. This means looking for bars that prioritize healthy fats and whole proteins over powders and supplemented vitamins. Steer clear of preservatives, artificial sweeteners, and processed fats.
Look for ingredients like medium chain triglycerides or MCT oils (a type of healthy fat), extra-virgin olive oil, cold-pressed coconut oil, avocado, nuts, hemp hearts, and seeds. Pro tip: If you’re sensitive to carbs or doing strict keto, skip the nuts and stick to straight oil.
Good protein choices include wild-caught fish, grass-fed meat, poultry, or eggs, she says. (Think you can’t find a bar with real salmon? Just wait.) If you’re looking for a more cost-friendly alternative, whey or collagen powders also pack a clean protein punch.
Here are a few top picks for the best keto protein bars out there, according to nutritionists. There’s a mix of homemade and store-bought options, so you can get domestic AF sometimes and phone it in on lazier days.
Coconut Cashew Energy Bars
Pumpkin spice protein and coconut cream combine with crunchy nuts to make a tasty keto protein bar that will satisfy your every craving. You can whip this one up in under five minutes and it needs no cooking. The recipe even includes variations to customize it to fit your exact macro goals.
Chocolate Peanut Butter Bar
These are the OG keto bars. They were designed specifically for keto dieters who don’t want to mess around with snacks that just sorta come close to the right ratios. They’re packed with the exact amount of fat and protein keto dieters want while having three grams or fewer of net carbs. They come in two flavors: chocolate peanut butter and chocolate coconut.
Low Carb Protein Bars
In order to keep carbs to a minimum, lots of keto-friendly creations call upon sugar alcohols to help boost the flavor. Unfortunately, however, these sweeteners can cause bloating and gut troubles, especially if you have a sensitive tum, says Beth Warren, RDN, author of Secrets of a Kosher Girl and founder of Beth Warren Nutrition. So your best bet for steering clear of any unnecessary bathroom situations? DIY—such as with these chewy bites, which call upon the natural and gut-friendly sweetener, monk fruit extract. And thanks to a mix of ingredients including unsweetened coconut flakes, almonds, pecans and sunflower seeds, these high-fat energy bars are full of fun textures and flavors.
Per serving: 310 calories, 28 g fat, 9 g carbs, 7 g protein
Keto Crave Energy Bar
With 16 grams of fat, 5 grams of net carbs and 9 grams protein, these bars are keto-friendly to a T, according to O’Connor. Plus they include MCT’s, which according to some research helps boost energy or cals burned and improves mental focus. And according to a 2017 study, MCT has the power to be more satiating than coconut or vegetable oil, limiting appetite and helping you eat less—pros especially if you’re looking to lose a bit of weight.
No-Bake Peanut Butter Protein Bars
These peanut-butter chocolate bars are legendary in the keto community thanks to their decadent texture and flavor. If you’re just looking to keep carbs low, follow the recipe as written. If you’re doing strict keto, the recipe offers several modifications, including using liquid monk fruit as the sweetener and buying a sugar-free keto chocolate. The best part? These have only five ingredients and there’s no baking required.
Per serving: 139 calories, 10 g fat, 6 g carbs, 4 g fiber, 9 g protein
Homemade Coconut Chocolate Keto Bars
Coconut and chocolate are a perfect pairing in this recipe. Real, whole coconut meat, butter, and whole cream give this bar its creamy texture. Then it’s dipped in baker’s chocolate and sweetened with erythritol and stevia to keep the carbs under three grams.
Per serving: 278 calories, 23 g fat, 9.8 g carbs, 6.7 g fiber, 7.5 g protein.
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Pegan® Protein Bar Chocolate Lava
FYI: Vegans and vegetarians can follow the keto diet too. Pegan Protein Bars strike the right balance of macros—just one to two grams of net carbs—and all the protein is from plant sources. They come in regular and “thin” varieties, and offer five flavors including lava chocolate, sweet sunflower, vanilla cinnamon twist, cinnamon raisin, and ginger.
Collagen Protein Bar
In the world of protein, collagen has solidified its place as the popular new kid. But as Cady Heron taught us in Mean Girls, the new kid isn’t always what she seems. So, the question remains: are Bulletproof collagen protein bars keto-friendly? Yes, yes, they are.
The powder, made from the skin, muscles, bones, and connective tissue of animals (usually cows or chickens), is high in protein and virtually tasteless so you can sneak it into any recipe and eat it up in these keto-approved bars. These collagen bars in particular come in seven sweet flavors, including café latte, vanilla shortbread, mint chocolate, lemon cookie, and cookie dough—all of which keep carbs to minimum, so that you can keep on keto-ing like a pro.
Low-Carb Lemon Keto Bars
If you’re a strict keto follower, chances are you’re really starting to miss fruit. Indulge in the taste of sweet lemon without the high-carb sugar with this recipe from I Breathe, I’m Hungry. The lemon provides vitamin C and the almond flour provides some fiber and vitamin E, all important nutrients for keto dieters, O’Connor says. Plus these keto protein bars pack 19 grams of fat, thanks to egg yolks and butter.
Per serving: 193 calories, 19 g fat, 2 g carbs, 4 g protein
Wild Blueberry Barbecue Seasoned Beef With Fruit And Quinoa
Honestly, I was taken aback at the premise of meat bars at first, but one bite shows why Krave bars are so beloved. They combine natural beef, turkey, or pork jerky with dried fruit and quinoa for a sweet-salty-spicy snack. These have a few more carbs (nine to 12 grams per bar) but they’re from healthy fruit and quinoa which is a plus, O’Connor says. Flavors include wild blueberry beef, chipotle cherry beef, cranberry thyme turkey, and mango jalapeño pork.
Keto Seven-Layer Bars
Remember those decadent seven-layer magic cookie bars your mom used to make when you were a kid? Relive that joy without the guilt with this recipe. Every aspect of this classic has been reworked to make it keto-friendly, from the almond-flour crust, to the “caramel” sauce, to the chocolate-coconut toppings. They take a little time to put together, but it’s worth the effort.
Chicken, Sesame & BBQ Bar
Epic is known for its low-carb and keto-friendly snacks made from the highest-quality ingredients and whole foods. They do not cut corners when it comes to taste or nutrition, making the bars from pastured, hormone-free meats, along with wholesome vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, and spices. They boast two grams or less of carbs in most bars and come in 11 exotic flavors including chicken sesame BBQ, smoked salmon maple, and wild boar bacon.
Chocolate Chip Sugar-Free Paleo Protein Bars
Low Carb Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Protein Bars
All it takes to make these fall-flavored eats? Five minutes. I repeat: five minutes. Although practically sugar-free thanks to primo ingredients like keto-friendly Stevia, these pumpkin bars taste so so sweet it’s easy to forget that they’re not actually candy. They’re also packed with nearly 5 grams of fiber and 7 grams of protein, helping you stay satisfied and say no to all those non-keto Halloween treats.
Per serving: 89.1 calories, 2.7 g fat, 10.6 g carbs (5.7 g net carbs), 7.1 g protein
Chocolate Cacao Protein Bar
Atlas bars bill themselves as the “cleanest protein bar on the planet” thanks to using grass-fed whey protein and being GMO, gluten, and preservative free. These bars are low in sugar and high in fiber to keep things moving in the bathroom (hey, no shame, it’s a common problem with keto!). They come in three flavors, chocolate cacao, vanilla almond, and peanut butter.
Matcha Keto Low Carb Protein Balls
Okay, so, they’re less of a bar and more of a, well, ball but these high fat treats still totally “fit the keto-friendly bill,” O’Connor says. Plus, they’re packed with protein from collagen and energy-boosting caffeine from matcha, making them a perfect snack to pop into your mouth pre or post workout.
Per serving: 116 calories, 9 g fat, 3 g carbs (2 g net carbs), 5 g protein
Who doesn’t love (er, need?) a quick hit of energy first thing in the morning? Not only do you get 100 mg of natural caffeine in each bar, but you’ll also score a dose of healthy fats and protein. Currently the bars have under 10 grams of net carbs but the company has promised a 100 percent keto-friendly bar soon. Flavors include french roast, chocolate mint, coconut chocolate, and chocolate cranberry.
High in fat (14 grams!) and low in net carbs (3 grams!), these SlimFast bad boys—also available in triple chocolate—are definitely keto-approved. And thanks to ingredients like MCT’s, sunflower butter, and almond butter, the bars boast a variety of healthy fats, O’Connor says. Head’s up: compared to other bites in this category, SlimFast bars have a bit of complicated ingredient list with less real, whole foods. A good example? “The added isomalto-oligosaccharides, which has a high glycemic index that can spike and drop the blood sugar quickly,” Warren adds.
Over 70 percent of these bars’ calories come from fat (keto win!), namely almonds, which contain the “benefit of magnesium to support your mood and cravings,” O’Connor explains. Also in the mix? Lots of fiber (6 grams to be exact) and sugar alcohol erythritol, which keeps both the glycemic index and net carbs low, per O’Connor. And with fewer than 10 ingredients each, Stoka Bars are free of added sugars and artificial flavors.