There are a TON of great protein bars for diabetes available out there. Here are key things to look for.
Knowing what to look for in a protein bar, or any other type of bar, is the most important thing to decide if they’re good protein bars for diabetes. In this article, I break down what to look for and my favorite protein bars, energy bars, and low glycemic bars for diabetes.
As a dietitian living with diabetes myself, I rely on good quality protein bars and energy bars quite often. Whether it’s a busy morning and I need to grab one on-the-go, or I need a snack I can just throw in my purse for the afternoon, they come in quite handy. Bars are convenient and easy to consume when I have other things on my mind. I’ve tried all fo the bars in this post and am excited to share my favorites with you!
*Disclaimer: This blog post is not sponsored in anyway. These are all truly my favorite bars for diabetes. However, I do work with some of these brands occasionally. That’s actually one of my favorite things about my job… some of my favorite foods to eat are also my clients! And some of the links in this post are affiliate links. What does that mean? It means that if you click on a link and end up purchasing that product, I may get a small commission, but it doesn’t cost you anything extra.
Also, this article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis, opinion, treatment or services. This article and the links contained in it provide general information for educational purposes only. The information provided in this article is not a substitute for medical care, and should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or registered dietitian.
What should you look for in diabetes friendly bars?
Just like with packaged snacks (check out my post on the best packaged snacks for diabetes here), when we’re eating a bar there are several questions to answer:
- Is this bar a snack, a meal, part of a meal, etc?
- How much protein is in the bar?
- How much fat is in the bar and what type of fat is it?
- What is the total amount of carbohydrate in the bar?
- What quantity of the carbohydrate is made of sugar?
- How much fiber is in the bar?
All of these factors played into the protein bars for diabetes recommendations below… and the energy bars and snack bars for diabetes recommendations as well.
My Top Picks for Diabetes-Friendly Bars
If you’re looking to jump right to my recommendations for the best of the best, navigate to the categories by clicking on one of the options below:
- Best protein bars
- Best low carb protein bars
- Sugar free protein bars/low sugar protein bars
- Best low glycemic bars
- Best higher fiber bars
- Best granola bars
- Best snack bars
What types of health bars for diabetes are available?
Now, just so you know, I’m not going to recommend bars that you’ll find in the pharmacy department labeled as “diabetes bars.” Think: Glucerna, Ensure, etc. These bars are often not made with quality ingredients (just my opinion) and aren’t super satisfying either.
The key to remember is that something doesn’t have to be labeled as “diabetes-friendly” for it to be a good option for people with diabetes. You just need to know what to look for. (Make sure to read this post too on balancing blood sugars and choosing the right foods.)
Option 1: Protein Bars for Diabetes
Now, first, let’s chat about protein bars…In this section, I’m going to talk about and reference protein bars for diabetes that are marketed as protein bars and/or have 8g or more of protein/bar.
Are protein bars good for diabetes?
Yes, they can be! Whether you’re looking for a meal or a snack, it’s important to have a quality source of protein each time you eat.
Do you need to focus on low GI protein bars?
Again, the bar does not need to be labeled as low GI for it to be blood sugar friendly or diabetes friendly, though it certainly can be. We’re focusing on a whole host of factors (see that bullet list at the beginning of this blog post again) to determine what the best protein bars for diabetes are.
Are the best protein bars for type 2 diabetes the same as type 1 diabetes?
Generally speaking, yes. Just like all of the other content I publish here on my website, and on social media, the recommendations for bars in this post apply to people with all types of diabetes, and anyone looking to balance blood sugars and energy levels.
What is in the healthiest protein bars for people with diabetes?
You’ll notice many of the bars listed in this article also have a decent amount of fiber in them. And if they have more than 20g protein in one bar, I probably didn’t include them since that amount of added protein in a bar can sometimes lead to stomach upset.
I also look for protein bars that get their protein from actual foods like nuts and nut butters if I can. This means they will also have a good amount of plant based fats in them as well.
How and where to find low glycemic protein bars?
You’ll find most of these protein bars for diabetes in the “health/natural” section of the grocery store by the protein powders, and some of the other bars in the breakfast section of your store near breakfast bars or granola bars.
Where I find and buy the best protein bars for diabetes?
I buy many of the bars listed above on a regular basis at places like Sprouts Farmers Market, H-E-B, Amazon, Thrive Market, or direct from the brand on their website.
Option 2: Low Carb and Low GI Bars for Diabetes
Now let’s talk a bit more about some of the low carb bars and low glycemic bars for diabetes that are out there…
Are RX bars low glycemic and other bars that use dates?
Sometimes yes, and sometimes no. But that doesn’t mean that they aren’t good for people with diabetes. It just means that you need to be aware of what else could impact your blood sugars when you choose to eat a bar made with dates.
Is your blood sugar running lower or higher that day? Have you just been exercising? Is it first thing in the morning? Do you need a quick energy boost? What else is in the bar? All of these things are questions to ask your personal dietitian and how they could impact your food choices.
Option 3: Energy Bars for Diabetes
And finally, let’s talk about energy bars. These types of bars are not high in protein typically, but can still provide a quality blood sugar friendly snack.
What should you look for in energy bars for diabetes?
Since these bars aren’t going to have the large amounts of protein that we saw in the protein bars for diabetes, here I’m focused on finding bars made from whole grains, bars with low amounts of added sugar, and bars with added nuts and seeds.
Do low GI energy bars exist?
Yes, they do. Typically they are higher in fiber and have more nuts or seeds as I mentioned above.
A quick note on categorizing bars before we get started
You’ll notice that some of these bars could have probably gone in other categories or been repeated. Just keep that in mind. I may have a bar listed under higher fiber, but it could also be labeled as higher protein, low glycemic, etc. So, yes there is some crossover but I wanted to give you as many options as possible to consider as the best protein bar for diabetics, and not repeat recommendations.
New energy and protein bars for diabetes in 2023
I originally wrote this post back in 2021, so it was time for a 2023 update! These are some new (to me) bars I’ve tried this year and have been included in my reasons for loving them in the lists below!
- Think Protein Bars
- Atlas Protein Bars
- IQ Bars
- Cascadian Farms No Added Sugar Granola Bars
- PowerCrunch Kids High Protein Snack Bar
- Mid Day Squares
- Happy Belly Protein Chewy Bars
- Vital Performance Protein Bar
5 Best protein bars for diabetes
The bars below have 8-12g protein/bar, at least 4g fiber/bar, and low amounts of added sugar.
- KIND Protein Bars: These KIND protein bars have more protein than their traditional bars (though I love those as well!). Each bar has 12g protein and 5g fiber.
- RXBar Chocolate Sea Salt Bar: RX Bar also has 12g protein and 5g fiber/bar, but with a different texture. RX Bars are a denser tougher bar, so something to keep in mind.
- KIND Breakfast Protein Bars: I love these soft breakfast bars from KIND. They come two to a package, so if you’re not wanting the full serving (2 bars), you can have one and still get 4g protein.
- Nature Valley Protein Chewy Bars: Do not write these bars fromNature Valley off! Each bar has 10g protein and 6g fiber and are absolutely delicious!
- GoRaw Protein Bars: I love that the protein in these bars comes from pumpkin seeds! Each bar has only 15g carbohydrate but 5g fiber and 12g protein.
5 Best low carb protein bars for diabetes
The bars below have 8-20g protein and <15g carbohydrate.
- Epic Bars: Epic Bars were the first meat based bar I started to see in the nutrition and protein bar section of the grocery store. They have so many delicious flavors and are a great way to get blood sugar stabilizing protein in throughout the day.
- Dang Keto Bars: With only 11g carb, 6g of which are fiber, these bars from Dang are super blood sugar friendly. My favorite flavor is Almond Cookie.
- Health Warrior Pumpkin Seed Bars: Health Warrior is another bar with protein coming straight from pumpkin seeds. (They also have a chia seed bar you’ll see later in this post.) They’re high in all three of my favorite nutrients, fat, fiber, and protein.
- GoodFats Bars: Like me, my nephew also has type 1 diabetes, and he is obsessed with GoodFats bars! I even gave him a box of them on his 4th birthday and he was so excited! I’ve loved all the flavors I’ve tried.
- Bulletproof Collagen Protein Bar: Collagen bars came onto the market a few years ago and they’re a great way to get extra protein without a lot of sugar into your day.
3 Sugar free protein bars and low sugar protein bars
Sometimes a low sugar or sugar free protein bar can come in handy if blood sugars are running higher or if you simply want a sugar free option. These protein bars contain 2g or less of sugar each.
- Think Protein Bars: Think bars have been around for a while, but I’m adding them to my list this year because of how delicious they are. They do contain sugar alcohols, so if you’re sensitive to those keep that in mind.
- Vital Performance Protein Bar: Vital Proteins recently re-formulated their collagen bars and this newer version is much better. The texture and flavor are improved and each bar packs 20g protein.
- ZING Keto bars: Zing bars have such good flavors and their keto version is no exception. Each bar has 1/3 of your daily fiber needs! (10g)
3 Best low glycemic bars for diabetes
These bars are specifically formulated to be blood sugar friendly.
- GoodMeasure bars: Good Measure bars are delicious, and have little impact on blood sugar. Each bar has 7-8g protein and 4g fiber. The Blueberry & Almond Butter bar is my favorite flavor!
- MunkPack KETO granola bars: MunkPack makes my favorite granola bars. They come in a few different flavors and have 4g protein each.
- Evo Hemp Hemp Bars: The protein source in Evo Hemp bars comes from hemp seeds, which also adds fiber. Each bar has 5g fiber and 12g protein.
4 Best higher fiber bars for diabetes
These bars have 5g fiber/bar or more.
- Health Warrior Chia Bars: Health Warrior Chia Seed bars are high in fiber and smaller in size which makes them perfect for a blood sugar friendly snack.
- Quest bars: Quest bars have several different delicious flavors and each has 15g of fiber or more. They do use sugar alcohols though, so they would not be appropriate for people sensitive to sugar alcohols.
- Atlas Protein Bars: Atlas bars were a new find for me. (I saw them at my local Sprouts!) They’re high in protein and fiber.
- IQ Bars: IQ Bars were another new find for me. (Again, from Sprouts.) I love the texture, and just like many of the other bars in this post, they’re high in protein and fiber.
5 Best granola bars for diabetes
These bars all have a great balance of carbs, protein, and fiber with low amounts of added sugar.
- KIND Nuts and Spices Bars: KIND bars are a classic and have always been one of my go-to blood sugar friendly bar options. For lower carbohydrates, stick to the nuts and spices flavors.
- MadeGood Chocolate Chip Granola Bars and Bites: My kids love these granola bars from MadeGood. They’re small in size and use vegetables in their recipe (but, don’t worry, you can’t taste them)!
- CaveMan Grain Free Granola Bars: The primary ingredients in these CaveMan Granola Bars is nuts and seeds… and they have only 8g carbohydrate/bar.
- Cascadian Farms No Added Sugar Granola Bars: I discovered these new no added sugar chewy bars a few months ago and we love them. The total carbohydrate count is a little higher than the other bars on this list but my own blood sugars have responded quite well to them.
- Happy Belly Protein Chewy Bars: Amazon has launched a new food brand called HappyBelly… and their protein bars have rave reviews. They look similar very similar to the Nature Valley Protein Bars I featured above.
4 Best snack bars for diabetes
To round out our list, I’ve included some bars that don’t really fit int he other categories but deserve a mention!
- Simple Mills Soft Baked Bars: I love these bars from Simple Mills! They’re made from almond flour and have a super soft fluffy texture.
- PowerCrunch Kids High Protein Snack Bar: Just because these bars are marketed for kids, doesn’t mean adults can’t enjoy them too. The smaller size makes them a perfect protein snack.
- Mid Day Squares: I haven’t actually tried these yet, but read some great reviews and they look delicious! Each bar has 12g carbohydrate (4g of which are fiber).
- Patter Bars: Patter Bars come in two different sizes depending on what you’re in the mood for. They have moderate amounts of protein and fiber and would pair great with other nutrient dense snacks.
What are your favorite protein bars for diabetes, snack bars for diabetes, and energy bars for diabetes?
This article was updated from it’s original publish date in December 2020.