At the time of writing this post I’ve been on the ketogenic diet for over four years and logged over 200 blood ketone tests in an effort to estimate the effects of food and ingredients on my ketosis, including those in Quest protein bars.
I think ketogenic dieters naturally gravitate towards protein bars looking for a convenient sweet treat that won’t kick them out of ketosis but are protein bars the right place to look? In this post, I’ll evaluate a keto dieter favorite, Quest protein bars, give them a ketogenic compatibility grade, and recommend a more ketogenic friendly alternative.
Ketogenic Compatibility Grade: D-
Savage Fuel Ketogenic Compatibility Grades:
- A: Completely compatible, positive or no impact on ketosis.
- B: Highly compatible, but don't go too crazy.
- C: Moderately compatible, be mindful and limit intelligently.
- D: Barely compatible, detrimental to ketosis and not recommended.
- F: Not compatible, avoid or kiss your ketosis goodbye.
Ingredients: (Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Flavor)
Protein Blend (Milk Protein Isolate, Whey Protein Isolate), Soluble Corn Fiber (Prebiotic Fiber), Almonds, Water, Unsweetened Chocolate, Natural Flavors, Erythritol, Cocoa Butter, Palm Oil, Sea Salt, Calcium Carbonate, Sucralose, Steviol Glycosides (Stevia).
Quest Protein Bar Macro Nutrient Ratio:
Label Net Carbs:
4-7 grams of net carbs depending on flavor.
Net Carb Estimate: (My estimation based on the caloric values and glycemic index of ingredients.)
11-14 grams of estimated net carbohydrates per bar. (+4-7 grams depending on flavor, +7 grams from soluble corn fiber)
Soluble Corn Fiber:
Also known as corn syrup solids, there are ~14g per bar and unlike insoluble fiber it has calories. I recommend estimating half of this fiber as net carbohydrates adding 7g to the total. It’s difficult to find good information on this kind of fiber because it almost all comes from the people manufacturing it or putting it in their products and cherry-picking loosely related studies.
20 grams of protein for your body to convert into glucose via gluconeogenesis. Too much protein can prevent ketosis.
Difficult not to overeat due to the sweetness triggering cravings, good taste, and elevated blood sugar from the protein and net carbs causing hunger. As soon as I finish one bar I want another.
Quest Protein Bar Keto Conclusion:
Quest protein bars have a lot going for them. I like their taste, chewy texture, and they have quality ingredients like unsweetened chocolate, almonds, Erythritol, sea salt, cocoa butter, and sea salt.
Unfortunately, they’re just not made with ketogenic dieters in mind because they’re high in protein, low in fat, and have too many ingredients that raise blood sugar and they leave me unsatisfied and craving more.
I also think that most keto dieters are drawn to Quest bars for a sweet treat rather than a high protein snack. Thankfully there are other treats that are ketogenic friendly and taste great.
Compare the cookies and cream flavor Quest bar at 11g estimated net carbs per 60g bar to other keto favorites: Chocoperfection at 2g estimated net carbs per 50g bar, Keto Kookies at 2g estimated net carbs per 50g of cookies, and Keto Bars at 2g per 47g bar.
I recommend you pass on Quest bars and get your sweet fix elsewhere. Also feel free to check out the Keto Shop for all my guaranteed keto friendly recommendations!
How Quest Bars Can Fit in a Ketogenic Diet
The ideal time to have a Quest Bar is after a heavy lifting or other muscle glycogen depleting activity as the dessert of your post-workout meal. This way you can have a nice workout reward, and not have to worry about the extra net carbs and protein lowering your ketosis because your glycogen deficit should soak up some of your blood glucose.
A few things to keep in mind are that 20g of protein is nothing to sneeze at, and remember on a low carb diet too much protein can lower and even prevent ketosis by gluconeogenesis, so you’ll want to adjust your protein intake for the day accordingly. Also to be on the safe side I recommend sticking to the 4g net carb flavors and count half the fiber as net carbs bringing the 4g net carb bars up to 11g net carbs.
Bonus: My Keto Quest Bar Experiment
Since I do my most important work in the morning, and I don’t start eating for the day until after working, my main metric for deciding if a food has a place in my diet is the effect it has on my level of ketosis the next morning.
To find out more about how Quest Bars affect me the day after, I set up a 24 hour experiment in which I tested my blood, breath, and urine ketone levels at 11am while fasted, ingested no calories other than three quest protein bars for the entire day, fasted the next morning and tested my ketone levels again at 11am. The results were that my blood ketones went from 1.6 mmol/L the first day to 1.9 mmol/L the following day.
For more details on the experiment check out the post here.
My Favorite Ketogenic Friendly Sweet Treat
ChocoPerfection blew me away the first time I tried it, the taste and texture were so much better than any other low carb chocolate I’d tried before. I thought it might be too good to be true so I tested my blood ketones one day then ate four bars of it, at the same time the next day my blood ketone reading was even higher than the previous day, I was sold.
I give ChocoPerfection a A ketogenic compatibility grade because of it’s low net carbs (2g per 50g bar), high fat, low protein, zero glycemic index sweeteners, and no mystery “fiber”. The only two downsides of ChocoPerfection are that it is expensive and if you really pig out you’ll most likely become the eye of a fart storm (a side effect of Erythritol and Inulin), both are prices I’m usually willing to pay.
They have a lot of great flavors too, dark and dark mint are my favorites and Raspberry is the only flavor I don’t like. The dark mint with a handful of macadamia nuts tastes just like thin mint cookies. You get the classic mint chocolate flavor with the salty and crunchy macadamia nuts, it’s my favorite ultra low carb dessert.
If you’re interested in trying some I’d recommend getting the variety pack and a pack of the dark chocolate so you can try all their flavors and still have more of the dark which you’re going to like anyways. They also have chocolate chips if you’re into baking and free shipping in the United States.