Protein bars are quick, convenient, and nutritious (if you buy the right ones).
In this article, you’ll learn:
Protein on the Ketogenic DietProteins are vital for the body . Every cell in our body contains protein, and our body uses protein to make and repair cells . Children, teens, and pregnant women need protein for proper growth and development .
However, there’s much debate about protein on the ketogenic diet.
Some say it’s essentially turned into the equivalent of chocolate cake in the body via gluconeogenesis. The theory here is that excess protein is essentially converted to carbs, kicking you out of ketosis.
That myth has largely been debunked, but the question still stands: how much protein do you need on keto?
Protein 101During digestion, proteins are broken down into parts called amino acids. The body needs sufficient amounts of certain amino acids to maintain proper health .
Amino acids are found in animal products such as meat, fish, eggs, and dairy, as well as plant-based sources like beans, legumes, soy, nuts, and seeds. You do not need to eat animal products to get the necessary amount of protein in your diet .
There are three types of amino acids: essential, nonessential, and conditional.
- Essential amino acids cannot be produced by the body, but are supplied to the body by food .
- Nonessential amino acids are made by the body from essential amino acids or from breaking down proteins through digestion .
- Conditional amino acids are needed by the body in times of sickness or stress .
Most people following the ketogenic diet don’t adhere to these guidelines.
How Protein Affects KetosisHealthy amounts of protein are necessary on any diet, including keto. When first starting keto, it can be difficult to know how much protein to eat.
Many people limit carbs and protein and eat tons of fat, fearing too much protein will kick them out of ketosis. This isn’t necessarily bad, but it may not be the best way to approach keto.
Carbs are the only macronutrient that really messes with ketosis. That’s why you should limit your carbs and find the amount of carbs that works for you.
Protein doesn’t interfere with ketosis. As long as you’re eating high fat, you can eat high protein, too. Remember the keto food pyramid:
Not only does protein give your body necessary nutrients, but it can help you reach your keto goals. Protein is more satiating than fat, so people on low-protein diets tend to overeat, stalling weight loss . By increasing your protein intake, you can eat less and still feel full.
Protein also has fewer calories than fat (four calories per gram versus nine, respectively) . You can lower your caloric intake by switching out some of your daily fat for protein, which can increase your weight loss or break a weight loss plateau.
A word of warning: Adding more protein to your diet may be helpful, but watch out for any extra calories that come with it. Remember, you won’t lose weight if you’re taking in more calories than you're burning. Aim to eat the right amount of protein for your diet, not too little or too much.
To learn how the keto diet can help you lose weight, check out our comprehensive keto weight loss guide.
With that said, check out some great keto protein bars below, as well as ones to avoid.
The Best Keto Protein Bars (Ranked)
There are tons of great keto-friendly protein bars out there. All of these have at least 15g protein, fewer than 5g carbs, and are less than 250 calories. They’re perfect when you’re on-the-go or short on time.
The numbers beside the bars are the grams of net carbs (green) and protein (blue) in each bar. To calculate net carbs, just subtract the grams of fiber and sugar alcohols from the total carbohydrates. It’s that easy.
1. Grenade Carb Killa Protein Bar220 calories | 8g fat | 2g net carbs | 22g protein
It’s hard to argue with 22g protein and only 2g net carbs. If you’re looking for the most protein with the fewest carbs, the Grenade Carb Killa is the bar for you.
2. NaturesPlus KETOslim High Protein Bar220 calories | 8g fat | 2g net carbs | 21g protein
There’s not a lot of difference between first and second on this list. Only 1g protein, in fact. Any bar that packs a punch and is still keto-friendly gets a big thumbs up, and the NaturesPlus KETOslim High Protein Bar certainly does.
3. Quest Nutrition Protein Bar200 calories | 9g fat | 4g net carbs | 21g protein
Not only are Quest Nutrition Protein Bars keto-friendly, but compared to some boutique keto protein bars, they’re easy to find, too. These Quest bars can be found in grocery stores, gas stations and drug stores, as well as online. With over 20 flavors to choose from, you can find the perfect bar for you.
4. Primal Thin Protein Bar130 calories | 5g fat | 1g net carbs | 20g protein
This bar is almost too good to be true. 20g protein and only 1g net carbs is insane. Whether you’re rounding out your macros for the day or trying to add extra protein to your diet, the Primal Thin Protein Bar is a great option.
5. ThinkThin High Protein Bar230 calories | 8g fat | 2g net carbs | 20g protein
The bars on this list are so incredible, it’s easy to overlook how impressive 20g protein and only 2g net carbs really is. The ThinkThin High Protein Bar is one of the best keto protein bars out there.
6. PowerBar Protein Plus Reduced Sugar Bar200 calories | 7g fat | 2g net carbs | 20g protein
Typical PowerBars aren’t very keto-friendly, but the PowerBar Protein Plus Reduced Sugar Bar is a whole new story. Just double check you get the reduced-sugar version to avoid an extra 19g net carbs.
7. InstaKetones GoBHB Per Protein Bar140 calories | 8g fat | 4g net carbs | 15g protein
Any bar with 15g protein and fewer than 5g net carbs is a great keto-friendly option. The InstaKetones GoBHB Per Protein Bar has BHB in each bar, giving you an extra boost of sugar-free energy.
For some people, adding more protein into their diet isn’t the goal. Sometimes you just want a quick, convenient, on-the-go snack that won’t wreck your macros or throw you out of ketosis. Luckily, there are plenty of great keto bars that are high in fat and low in carbs.
The numbers beside the bars are the grams of net carbs (green) and fat (blue) in each bar. With so many options out there, you can be sure to find a keto-friendly bar that keeps your macros and your taste buds happy.
Keep in mind that even with the most keto-friendly bar, you’ll get more nutrients from meals you prepare yourself. These keto bars are great, but they shouldn’t replace real food.
Keto Protein Bars that are Decent in a PinchMany protein or keto bars claim to be low carb, but actually aren’t. Always double check the nutrition information to make sure you aren’t adding extra carbs into your diet. Here are some bars to watch out for:
1. ZenoBar Keto Low Carb Energy Bar140 calories | 9g fat | 15g net carbs | 5g protein
ZenoBar claims to be low carb, and for most diets, it is. But on keto, 15g carbs goes a long way. If you’re new to keto or stuck in a weight loss plateau, an extra 15g net carbs won’t do you any favors.
2. Pure Protein Bar200 calories | 5g fat | 11g net carbs | 20g protein
Pure Protein Bars advertise the amount of sugar (3g) on the packaging to make it seem low carb. Don’t forget that carbs exist outside of sugar. A product may be low in sugar, but high in carbs. Double check the ingredients to make sure it’s as low carb as it claims to be.
3. Atlas Bar~210 calories | ~11g fat | 10g net carbs | 15g protein
Depending on the flavor, Atlas Protein Bars are 10-13g net carbs. It isn’t a ton, but for a lot of keto dieters, that’s almost half the daily amount of carbs. If you’re trying to round out your carb or protein macros, this bar could be perfect. But watch out if you’re trying to limit your carbs for the day.
Keto Protein Bars to AvoidA typical protein bar will have tons of carbs, along with a lot of calories. These are some of the best-known protein bars, and while they have lots of protein, the extra carbs will throw off your macros. Remember that “high protein” doesn’t equal “low carb.” Avoid these bars at all cost if you're eating low-carb or keto.
1. MET-Rx Big 100 Colossal Protein Bar360 calories | 5g fat | 50g net carbs | 28g protein
28g protein is great, but 50g net carbs is more than twice most keto dieters have in a day. There are better choices out there.
2. Gatorade Whey Protein Recover Bar360 calories | 13g fat | 36g net carbs | 20g protein
Gatorade is known for its sport and recovery drinks, but there are plenty of keto protein bars with 20g protein and only a few grams of carbs.
3. CLIF BUILDER’S Protein Bar270 calories | 9g fat | 28g net carbs | 20g protein
These bars are everywhere, from grocery stores to gas stations. And while 20g protein is great, 28g net carbs is too much for most keto dieters.
4. PowerBar Protein Plus Bar210 calories | 6g fat | 21g net carbs | 20g protein
The original on-the-go snack bar isn’t too bad, but it’s unlikely to win over too many keto dieters with 21g net carbs.
5. BSN Protein Crisp Bar230 calories | 6g fat | 17g net carbs | 20g protein
This BSN bar could be considered keto in a pinch, but you’d have to stay really strict for the rest of the day to not miss your macro goals for the day.
Best Make-it-Yourself BarsIf you can’t find the right store-bought protein or keto bar, or you just love to bake, making your own bars from scratch can be the perfect way to get the extra protein you’re looking for. These recipes are delicious, easy, and keto-friendly. Plus, you have the freedom to experiment and make your own signature versions. 310 calories | 27g fat | 3g net carbs | 8g protein
These nutty chocolate energy balls (or bars if you shape them that way) have over 7g protein and 27g of fat. They’re packed with almonds and pecans and bursting with flavor. You’ll want to make this recipe more than once.311 calories | 30g fat | 4g net carbs | 8g protein
8g protein in any bar is great, but 8g protein and 30g fat takes this bar above and beyond. And if that wasn’t enough, the dairy-free fudge will keep you coming back to this recipe again and again.139 calories | 10g fat | 2g net carbs | 9g protein
Four ingredients, five minutes and you’re done. These homemade keto protein cups are easy to make and offer 9g protein, 10g fat, and only 2g net carbs per serving. That sounds almost too good to be true.147 calories | 11g fat | 2g net carbs | 6g protein
We love macadamia nuts. If you haven’t tried FBOMB Macadamia Nut Butters, you’re missing out. These protein bars use only a few customizable ingredients, so you can add your own flavors, protein powder, or anything else you want. Plus, they only have 1g net carbs. Impressive.278 calories | 23g fat | 3g net carbs | 8g protein
These homemade keto bars are as close to the real thing as possible. They can be made in less than 30 minutes, have only 3g net carbs and are full of coconut and chocolate. It doesn’t get much better than that.
On keto, protein shouldn’t be the enemy. Adding extra protein into your diet can help you burn body fat and keep you full between meals. There are tons of keto-friendly protein bars that make it convenient and easy to add more protein into your diet. Just remember that even if a bar is advertised as keto-friendly or low-carb, you should always double check the nutrition information to make sure you’re not adding extra carbs into your diet.