10 Best Protein Bars Without Sugar Alcohols

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If you’re like me, the sugar alcohols that companies pack in protein bars cause you digestive issues, and you prefer to avoid them.   

The good news is that there are lots of protein bars on the market without sugar alcohols and I’ve spent hours researching and consulting with Registered Dieticians to find the best ones. 

One important aspect of the research process was identifying commonly used sugar alcohols in protein bars.  Glycerol (also appears as glycerin or glycerine) is a sugar alcohol that is a common ingredient in protein bars, even when the label states 0g sugar alcohols.  

Many reviews on the internet mistakenly include protein bars with glycerin in their lists of protein bars without sugar alcohols, but this review does not.

So, which is the best protein bar without sugar alcohols? The best protein bar without sugar alcohols is the savory meat-based EPIC Protein Bar – Chicken Sriracha.  It does not contain any sweeteners at all and provides 13g of protein per bar with only 120 calories.  These bars are also paleo and keto-friendly and compatible with Whole30.

In this article, I’ll cover the top 10 protein bars without sugar alcohols, which have been approved by the team of Registered Dieticians and nutrition coaches at FeastGood.com.  

I’ll also discuss: 

  • Why do protein bars have sugar alcohols?
  • What is the protein to calorie ratio, and why does it matter?
  • What are the benefits of eating a protein bar without sugar alcohols?

Why Do Protein Bars Have Sugar Alcohols?

Sugar alcohols provide a sweet taste at a fraction of the calories of sugar.  They are often used in combination with zero-calorie high-intensity sweeteners to create the same sweetness as sugar, but with fewer calories.

Sugar alcohols also have physical properties that are similar to sugar, which means that they can add to the texture and size of a protein bar.

Sugar alcohols are also used to mask the unpleasant aftertastes of some high-intensity sweeteners, since some people complain about a bitter or “chemical” taste from those products.

Types of Sugar Alcohol in Protein Bars

Sugar alcohols actually blur the lines between “artificial” and “natural” since they are usually derived from sugars and can occur naturally or be produced industrially.  

They are organic compounds called polyols, so you can recognize them with the suffix “-ol.”  

Wikipedia provides a great table for comparing sugar alcohols, parts of which are shown here:

NameRelative Sweetness
(% of table sugar)
Calories per gramCalories compared to sugar
(4 calories/g)
Arabitol70%0.25%
Erythritol*60-80%0.215.30%
Glycerol* (also glycerin or glycerine)60%4.3108%
Isomalt45-65%2.050%
Lactitol30-40%2.050%
Maltitol*90%2.153%
Mannitol*40-70%1.640%
Sorbitol*40-70%2.665%
Xylitol*100%2.460%

I have marked the most common sugar alcohols found in protein bars with an asterisk (*).

Note that the nutritional information label may state 0g of sugar alcohols even though one or more of the sugar alcohols listed above is included in the ingredients.  This means that the total sugar alcohol per serving is less than 0.5g, which allows the label to round to zero.  

If you are concerned about sugar alcohols and would like to avoid them entirely, it is best to read the ingredients list carefully rather than relying on the number of grams of sugar alcohols stated in the nutrition facts.

Key Takeaway: When looking for a protein bar without sugar alcohols, read the labels carefully to avoid the sugar alcohols listed above, and understand what other types of sweeteners are used instead.

Should you take whey protein?  If so, when and how much?

Ingredients You Want In A Protein Bar Without Sugar Alcohols

If you are looking for a protein bar that uses sweeteners other than sugar alcohols, your choice will largely depend on your goals and your personal preferences.

  • For individuals who are looking to gain weight, it is a good idea to look for protein bars that are sweetened with caloric sweeteners such as sugars and syrups including corn syrup, honey, fruit juices and dried fruits such as raisins or dates.
  • For individuals who are looking to lose weight, it is a good idea to look for protein bars that are sweetened with non-caloric sweeteners such as stevia, monkfruit or other high-intensity sweeteners like sucralose or acesulfame potassium (Ace-K).

What Is the Protein To Calorie Ratio?

Just as it sounds, the protein to calorie ratio looks at the number of grams of protein per serving compared to the number of calories per serving.  

This can be very useful for comparing protein bars when you want to get the most “protein bang for your buck,” since protein bars also contain carbohydrates and fat.  

If you are looking at a protein bar primarily as a source of protein, you will want to look for a bar that provides relatively more of its calories from protein than from any other macronutrient.

Or, you might be looking for a protein bar that provides a 2:1 carb to protein ratio to optimize pre- and post-workout nutrition, meaning that twice as many calories come from carbohydrates as from protein.

The bars in this round up are ranked in order based on protein to calorie ratio.

Best Protein Bars Without Sugar Alcohols: 10 Options

The top 10 protein bars without sugar alcohols are: 

1. EPIC Chicken Sriracha Protein Bars: Best Overall Bar

This is the best protein bar in our round up of protein bars without sugar alcohols because it provides the most protein per calorie (43%).  It contains no sweeteners at all and it is very low in carbohydrates, making it keto-friendly and compatible with Whole30.

This bar also has the lowest number of calories.  This means that I would also recommend it as one of the best bars for cutting or weight loss goals.  

The lack of sweetener also means that it is less likely to lead to additional sugar cravings, which can happen when eating one sweet thing causes you to crave even more.

EPIC Chicken Sriracha Bar

MacronutrientsContents
Sweetened withNothing
Protein Ratio43%
Protein13g
Calories120 calories
Sugar0g (0g added)
Fat6g
Fiber2g
Sodium870mg

Pros

  • High in protein
  • Low in calories and carbohydrates
  • Compatible with paleo, keto and Whole30 

Cons

  • Not everyone likes the taste and texture of meat-based bars
  • Not suitable for vegetarians
  • High in sodium

2. Rise Whey Protein Bars – Almond Honey: Best “Clean” Bar

The Rise Whey Protein bar has only three ingredients: almonds, honey, and whey protein isolate.  This means no preservatives, artificial colors or flavors.  This is a great choice if you like to emphasize natural ingredients.

Rise Whey Protein Bars - Almond Honey

MacronutrientsContents
Sweetened withHoney
Protein Ratio29%
Protein20g
Calories280 calories
Sugar13g (0g added)
Fat16g
Fiber4g
Sodium25mg

Pros

  • High in protein (20g per bar)
  • Recognizable ingredients
  • Grain- and gluten-free
  • Low in sodium

Cons

  • Contains nuts (almonds)
  • Not suitable for vegans (honey)

3. IQBAR Brain and Body Keto Protein Bars – Chocolate Sea Salt: Best Low-Sugar Bar

The IQBAR has only 1.3g of sugar in total, and zero added sugar.  It is sweetened with only stevia and tapioca fiber.  This is great news for anyone looking to avoid or limit added sugar.

This vegan bar is high in fiber and has lion’s mane, a mushroom extract that is touted for its cognitive health benefits

The high fiber content of this bar could cause stomach issues for people who need a lower fiber intake.  On the other hand, for people looking to boost their fiber intake, this would be a great choice.

IQBAR Brain and Body Keto Protein Bars - Chocolate Sea Salt

MacronutrientsContents
Sweetened withStevia and tapioca fiber
Protein Ratio27%
Protein12g
Calories180 calories
Sugar1g (0g added)
Fat14g
Fiber8g
Sodium140mg

Pros

  • No added sugar
  • Vegan
  • Keto-friendly

Cons

  • Very high in fat

Related reading: How to Gain Weight Without Eating Sugar (Sample Meal Plan)

4. NuGo Protein Bar – Vanilla Yogurt: Best Low-Fat Bar

With only 3g of fat in per bar, the NuGo Protein bar has the lowest fat content overall.  It’s only a tiny fraction of the 17g in a Kind Protein Bar.  This makes it the best low-fat bar without sugar alcohols, which is important for people looking to manage their fat intake.

The NuGo Protein bar does only offer 11g of protein per bar.  This is the second-lowest protein content of any bar in the list, after the Zing bar.

This bar does have several forms of added sugar.  It has the highest sugar content of any bar on the list.

NuGo Protein Bar - Vanilla Yogurt

MacronutrientsContents
Sweetened withTapioca starch, sugar, tapioca syrup, cane sugar, agave syrup
Protein Ratio26%
Protein11g
Calories170 calories
Sugar13g (13g added)
Fat3g
Fiber2g
Sodium115mg

Pros

  • Lowest fat content (3g)
  • Low price 

Cons

  • Lower in protein
  • High in added sugars

5. Power Crunch Whey Protein Bar – French Vanilla Creme: Best Bar for Weight Gain

The Power Crunch bar is the most calorie-dense option in the list, offering 220 calories per 40g bar.  This is mainly due to its high fat content, along with protein and added sugar.  

This makes it the best choice for people looking for extra calories to gain weight.  Its low fiber content means it will digest quickly, which can help avoid feeling too full and also for providing energy quickly.

Power Crunch Whey Protein Bar - French Vanilla Creme

MacronutrientsContents
Sweetened withSugar, dextrose, sucralose, stevia leaf extract
Protein Ratio26%
Protein14g
Calories220 calories
Sugar5g (5g added)
Fat13g
Fiber1g
Sodium100mg

Pros

  • Highest calories per gram
  • Low price

Cons

  • Contains milk, wheat and soy

6. RxBar – Chocolate Sea Salt: Best Whole Foods Bar

RxBars are well-known for their natural ingredients.  The sweetness in this bar comes from dates, and a little touch of real chocolate. I love warming this bar in the oven for 2-3 minutes to melt the chocolate.  It’s a delicious and nutritious whole food source of protein.

This bar also has a 2:1 carb to protein ratio, which makes it great to eat after a workout.

RxBar - Chocolate Sea Salt

MacronutrientsContents
Sweetened withDates, chocolate
Protein Ratio23%
Protein12g
Calories210 calories
Sugar13g (0g added)
Fat9g
Fiber5g
Sodium260mg

Pros

  • Recognizable whole foods ingredients
  • 2:1 carbs to protein ratio
  • Gluten-free

Cons

  • Contains common allergens: eggs, almonds & cashews
  • Not suitable for vegans (eggs)

7. RxBar Layers Chocolate Almond: Best Texture Bar

RxBar has branched out to create the “Layers” experience.  Keeping with its whole foods-first approach, this bar is a step ahead of the usual protein bar experience that is often mainly one thick chewy texture throughout, with only a few “inclusions” such as nuts or chocolate chips to break up the monotony.

The Layers bar has a multi-layered texture with a top layer of creamy and crunchy nut butter on top of a chewy protein bar base.  To me, this makes it a great replacement for a junk food bar.

RxBar Layers Chocolate Almond

MacronutrientsContents
Sweetened withDates, honey, chocolate
Protein Ratio23%
Protein14g
Calories250 calories
Sugar13g (4g added)
Fat13g
Fiber3g
Sodium190mg

Pros

  • Recognizable whole foods ingredients
  • Gluten-free

Cons

  • Contains common allergens: eggs, almonds & cashews
  • Not suitable for vegans (eggs)

8. Caveman Foods Chocolate Almond Butter Protein Bar: Best Paleo Bar

The “paleo” approach to eating has gained popularity in recent years, and along with it, a surge in the number of products available that tout themselves as being in keeping with the foods available to humans of the paleolithic era.

Caveman foods has created this bar without grains, legumes, or dairy, none of which is considered paleo.  This makes the bar naturally gluten-free and soy-free.

Caveman Foods Chocolate Almond Butter Protein Bar

MacronutrientsContents
Sweetened withTapioca syrup, sugar, organic coconut sugar
Protein Ratio22%
Protein10g
Calories180 calories
Sugar9g (8g added)
Fat9g
Fiber1g
Sodium140mg

Pros

  • Paleo-friendly

Cons

  • High in added sugar
  • Contains almonds and eggs

9. Kind Protein Bar – Almond Butter Dark Chocolate: Best Energy Bar

Kind Bar was already in the energy bar market and has branched out with a higher-protein offering.  However, with only 12g of protein, this bar only provides 19% of its calories from protein.  This is the second-lowest protein to calorie ratio in the list, after the Zing Bar. 

This bar has the highest fat content and the second-highest calorie content per gram, after the Power Crunch bar.  This means it is also a good choice for people with high energy needs, such as highly active individuals and/or those looking for a calorie surplus for weight gain goals.

Similar to the RxBar, Kind Bars are also known for recognizable ingredients.

Kind Protein Bar - Almond Butter Dark Chocolate

MacronutrientsContents
Sweetened withChicory root fiber, honey, glucose syrup, sugar
Protein Ratio19%
Protein12g
Calories250 calories
Sugar8g (6g added)
Fat17g
Fiber5g
Sodium115mg

Pros

  • Recognizable ingredients
  • Gluten-free

Cons

  • Contains milk, soy, peanuts and almonds

10. Zing Bars Plant Based Protein Bar – Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter: Best Vegan Bar

The Zing Bar comes in last place in this top ten list as it only has 10g of protein.  Only 19% of the total calories come from protein, which is less than half of the 43% of calories from protein in the EPIC Chicken Bar.   

However, it is a vegan option that is gluten-free, soy-free and non-GMO.  Unlike many other vegan protein bars, it does not contain any vegetable glycerin, a common sugar alcohol in many protein bars.

Zing Bars Plant Based Protein Bar Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter

MacronutrientsContents
Sweetened withOrganic sugar, allulose, prebiotic tapioca syrup, organic agave nectar
Protein Ratio19%
Protein10g
Calories210 calories
Sugar6g (5g added)
Fat13g
Fiber4g
Sodium125mg

Pros

  • Vegan
  • Organic ingredients
  • Gluten-free, soy-free and non-GMO  

Cons

  • Lowest in protein

3 Benefits To Consuming Protein Bars Without Sugar Alcohols

3 benefits to consuming protein bars without sugar alcohols

The three main reasons to eat protein bars without sugar alcohols are to reduce digestive distress, to manage health conditions, and to increase calorie content using real sources of sugar.

Lessen Digestive Distress

Sugar alcohols have been linked to digestive discomfort including bloating, gas, cramps and diarrhea.  Removing sugar alcohols from the diet, including protein bars that contain sugar alcohols, can alleviate these symptoms.  

Manage Health Conditions

Some people need to avoid sugar alcohols for their health conditions. For example, individuals with IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis can find that the negative impacts of sugar alcohols for them are even greater than for the general population. 

Increase Calorie Content

For individuals with weight gain goals, prioritizing high-calorie foods can assist with eating more calories.  In this case, it makes sense to choose protein bars that are sweetened with actual sources of sugar, rather than sugar alcohols which generally do not provide as many calories as an equivalent amount of sugar.

Related Article: Can You Eat Sugar While Bulking? (Complete Guide)

Have a FeastGood Nutrition Coach help you get results faster than trying to stick it out alone

Final Thoughts

These ten bars are our top picks for protein bars without sugar alcohols.  Our number one choice for a protein bar without sugar alcohols is the EPIC Chicken Sriracha bar.

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About The Author

Lauren Graham
LAUREN GRAHAM

Lauren Graham is a Precision Nutrition Level 1 certified nutrition coach. She focuses on helping busy professionals balance healthy eating and purposeful movement.  Lauren has a background in competitive swimming and is currently competing as a CrossFit athlete.  She has a passion for training, teaching, and writing.