Are Atkins Low-carb Bars Good for Your Health?
- 14 minutes read
We’ve all heard of the Atkins diet. It is a low-carb meal plan that promotes excess weight loss in many people.
The creator of the Atkins diet founded Atkins Nutritional Inc., to offer low-carb meal plans and also sell some Atkins-compliant beverages and foods, including snack bars and low-carb meals.
There’s no doubt that many people may find it convenient to grab a low-carb bar whenever they need a fast Atkins compliant snack or meal. But the question is, are Atkins bars healthy?
This article takes a look at the ingredients and nutritional profile of Atkins low-carb bars. This can help you to decide whether to include them in your diet or not.
Let’s define Atkins low-carb bars
Atkins Nutritionals produces snack and meal bars. These bars are marketed and sold to Atkins Diet enthusiasts and lovers of other low-carb eating plans.
These meal bars contain a lot of protein and calories and are designed to serve as a substitute for a light meal. However, the calorie and protein content of snack bars are slightly lower.
For instance, you can get 140 calories from the Atkins Chocolate Crisp snack bar. The same bar will give you 10g of protein. On the other hand, you can get 250 calories from the Chocolate Peanut Butter meal bar, as well as 16g of protein (1, 2).
Here’s the thing – all Atkins bars contain very little carbs. Each bar provides a net of 2 – 4 carbs depending on the variety. Net carbs mean the total number of carbs that your body absorbs from the bar. Net carb is the difference between the total fiber and the sugar alcohol content from the whole carb content.
However, it is important to note that “net carb” is not recognized by the FDA. Nutritionists and other health experts think that counting carbs is not accurate due to differences in individual digestion (3).
The nutritional content of Atkins bars
The nutritional profile of Atkins bars varies. This variation depends on the variety. As you know, Atkins snack and meal bars have different flavors, like the Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, and the White Chocolate Macadamia Nut.
The table below gives a breakdown of the nutritional profile for Atkins Caramel Chocolate Peanut Nougat snack bar and Atkins Cookies & Crème meal bar (4, 5).
Cookies & Crème meal bar
|Caramel Chocolate Peanut Nougat snack bar|
|Total carbs||22 grams||20 grams|
|Fiber||9 grams||11 grams|
|Sugar||1 gram||1 gram|
|Sugar alcohols||9 grams||7 grams|
|Net carbs||4 grams||2 grams|
|Protein||14 grams||9 grams|
|Fat||11 grams||11 grams|
|Vitamin A||20% of the Daily Value (DV)||15% of the DV|
|Vitamin C||20% of the DV||15% of the DV|
The bars are rich in vitamins A, C B, and K, as well as zinc and magnesium.
Their calorie and carb content are also on the low side. But then, it is loaded with satiating nutrients such as fat, fiber, and protein.
It is worth noting that although these bars are classified as low-carb diet foods, they are not necessarily good for your health.
Atkins low-carb bars are not healthy
It is a fact that Atkins bars contain macronutrients that suits the Atkins diet and other low-carb diet plans. However, they are heavily processed and are laced with ingredients that may be injurious to your health. These include artificial sweeteners and unhealthy fats.
For instance, most Atkins bars contain a lot of canola or soybean oil. Both are vegetable oils that may be injurious to your heart health or your metabolic health (6, 7, 8, 9, 10).
Also, the manufacturer sweetens the taste by adding artificial sweeteners and sugar alcohols.
Many people can cope with small amounts of maltitol and other sugar alcohols. However, consuming an excess of foods laced with low-calorie sweeteners may cause gas, diarrhea, and other digestive issues (11).
It is also important to note that Atkins bars are loaded with acesulfame potassium, sucralose, and other high-intensity artificial sweeteners. These sweeteners harm your health.
For example, from animal studies, we have discovered that sucralose increases inflammatory processes in your body and also disrupts your gut flora (12, 13, 14).
Also, a study involving 15 healthy adults revealed that taking in 200mg of sucralose for at least 4 weeks led to a drastic reduction in insulin sensitivity, a condition that is associated with metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes (15, 16).
Results from animal studies have revealed that consumption of Ace-K affects the population of gut flora and also has negative impacts on metabolic health and brain health (17, 18).
Also, additives like carrageenan and artificial flavors are added to some Atkins bars. Some people do avoid these.
And finally, Atkins bars are designed to replace a light meal. However, their calorie content is very low, too low to serve as a meal replacement for anyone.
Healthy alternatives to Atkins bars
Here’s the thing – there’s nothing wrong with eating Atkins bars occasionally. However, you must eat processed foods in moderate amounts.
The good news is that there are many healthy snack options for fans of low-carb diets. What’s more? These alternatives are portable and convenient.
You are better off replacing your Atkins bars with whole foods. They will give your health a boost. Also, you save money when you make your snacks and meals.
Healthy alternatives to Atkins bars include:
- Low-carb energy balls prepared with healthy ingredients like unsweetened cocoa powder, chia seeds, and coconut.
- Low-carb bento box loaded with low-carb foods like nuts, hard-boiled eggs, veggie sticks, and cheese.
- Low-carb trail mix made without high-carb ingredients like dried fruit and chocolate. You can combine seeds, nuts, cacao nibs, and coconut for a nice combo.
- Chicken salad with veggie sticks. Chicken is a protein-rich food and very filling indeed. You can prepare a low-carb salad with mashed avocado, chicken, and spices served with veggie sticks.
- Cheese-and-nut packs. Prepare yours by pairing cubed cheese with pistachios, cashews, and almonds. Refrigerate them in pre-portioned containers.
These are a few examples of healthy alternatives to Atkins bars.
Tonika Bruce, also known as The Network Nurse, is a multi-talented individual with a career spanning over 20 years. She’s a Registered Nurse, speaker, author, and advocate for change, excelling in business building and team development. Tonika holds two Master’s degrees in Nursing and Business Administration, (MSN & MBA) and is currently pursuing her Doctorate of Nursing Practice in Executive Leadership.
Her expertise extends to various fields such as nursing, entrepreneurship, business, basketball coaching, and executive leadership. She is a published author of “Relentless Pursuit: Proven Tips for Unlocking Your Potentials, Limitless Success and Post COVID Syndrome: A Guide to Repositioning the Nursing Profession for A Post COVID Era”. Currently, Tonika is working on Thrudemic, an anthology examining the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on medical professionals and patients.