The Quest Nutrition brand, which has been around since about 2010, has always been fitness-focused. They’ve been making protein bars, protein chips, and a variety of other high-protein products for years. But are Quest Bars keto-friendly?
As keto grows in popularity, more and more companies are making keto-friendly protein bars. Quest protein bars are low-sugar and low-carb.
But that doesn’t mean they can’t spike your blood sugar or decrease ketone production.
Here’s a look at Quest protein bar ingredients, nutrition facts, flavors, and types, and whether or not Quest Bars fit into a ketogenic diet.
Quest Bars are low-sugar, low-carb protein bars. They were originally made in 2010, right when low-carb diets were gaining popularity.
A lot of protein bars are packed with sugar, carbs, low-quality fats, and other questionable ingredients. They’re basically candy bars with protein added.
The founders of Quest Nutrition wanted to challenge that standard and create a low-sugar protein bar with clean ingredients.
After some experimenting, the company created Quest Bars: low-sugar, low-carb protein bars with lots of dietary fiber and low-glycemic sweeteners.
Quest Bars have better ingredients than most mainstream protein bars.
However, there are a few ingredients in Quest Bars that keto dieters may want to avoid. They also contain 4-5g net carbs per bar, which may be too high for a keto diet, depending on how sensitive you are to carbohydrates.
Here’s the ingredient list from a Cookies and Cream Quest Bar.
- Protein blend (milk protein isolate and whey protein isolate)
- Soluble corn fiber
- Natural flavors
- Cocoa butter
- Palm kernel oil
- Sea salt
- Sodium caseinate
- Sunflower lecithin
- Xanthan gum
- Baking soda
Quest Bars follow the same core recipe with a few small changes, so this ingredients list is representative of Quest Bars as a whole.
Here’s a closer look at some of the key ingredients in Quest Bars.
Milk Protein and Whey Protein Isolate
Quest Bars have either 20 or 21 grams of protein per bar, with the vast majority coming from a blend of milk protein and whey protein isolate.
Whey is an excellent source of protein. You absorb it rapidly and completely[*], and it’s been the gold standard for athletes and bodybuilders for nearly 40 years.
Milk protein isolate is about 90% protein, mostly from casein. Casein is a type of protein common in milk.
Your body digests casein slowly, which makes it a good choice to pair with fast-acting whey.
However, casein can cause inflammation and gastrointestinal distress in some people[*]. If protein bars or shakes give you digestive issues, you may want to avoid milk protein — it’s a common culprit.
Soluble Corn Fiber
Soluble corn fiber is common in a lot of low-carb processed foods.
Like most fibers, soluble corn fiber is indigestible, so it contains zero grams of net carbs and no calories. It’s also a prebiotic, meaning it feeds your gut bacteria.
However, soluble corn fiber typically comes from genetically modified (GMO) corn, which many keto dieters avoid. It also may cause digestive distress.
As a result, many keto companies use tapioca fiber instead. It’s made from cassava root, which is non-GMO, and some people find it’s easier on the gut.
Sucralose (Splenda) is an artificial sweetener. It’s calorie-free and carb-free, which technically makes it keto.
However, sucralose can still spike your blood sugar and insulin[*], which may kick you out of ketosis.
Sucralose may also impact your gut bacteria. Rats fed sucralose daily had lower levels of healthy gut bacteria and developed chronic liver inflammation[*].
Quest Bar Nutrition Facts
Quest Bars all use the same core recipe, so nutrition facts stay more-or-less the same across flavors.
Here’s the nutritional profile of a Cookies and Cream Quest Bar:
- 200 calories
- 8g fat
- 21g total carbs
4g net carbs
- 21g protein
Quest Bar Flavors and Types
There are a lot of Quest Bar flavors, including:
- Cookies and Cream
- Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough
- Oatmeal Chocolate Chip
- Double Chocolate Chunk
- Mint Chocolate Chunk
- Chocolate Brownie
- Rocky Road
- Chocolate Peanut Butter
- Caramel Chocolate Chunk
- White Chocolate Raspberry
- Strawberry Cheesecake
- Blueberry Muffin
- Birthday Cake
- Maple Waffle
- Coconut Cashew
In addition, Quest makes Hero Bars, which are marginally lower in calories and carbs than a normal Quest Bar.
Hero Bars come in four flavors:
- Blueberry Cobbler
- Vanilla Caramel
- Chocolate Peanut Butter
- Chocolate Caramel Pecan (seasonal)
From a macronutrient standpoint, Quest Bars are keto-friendly. They contain 4-5 grams of net carbs per bar and are a good source of fat and protein.
However, Quest Bars also contain artificial sweeteners, corn fiber, and a few other low-quality ingredients that you may want to avoid.
In addition, the sucralose in Quest Bars may spike your blood sugar, which could interfere with ketosis.
A big part of the keto diet is food quality.
Ideally, you don’t just want to cut out carbs on keto. You want to cut out processed ingredients.
A healthy keto diet prioritizes nutrient-dense whole foods: meat, fish, veggies, quality fats, nuts, and so on.
Of course, you don’t always have time to prep fresh food. When life gets busy, it can be great to have a couple keto bars with you for a quick snack. Plus, keto bars can be a great when you want to satisfy your sweet tooth without breaking ketosis.
But that doesn’t mean you have to settle for subpar ingredients. Here are a few things to look for in a quality keto-friendly bar.
It’s a good idea to avoid artificial sweeteners in general.
Instead, choose keto bars that use natural sweeteners like stevia or monk fruit extract.
Erythritol is also a good choice, but you should avoid other sugar alcohols like xylitol — they can spike blood sugar.
No Added Sugar
A lot of protein bars have added sugar to improve taste. Keep away from them — they’ll kick you out of ketosis.
Whey or Collagen Protein
Whey protein is great for muscle-building and recovery. Collagen protein is good for your joints, hair, skin, and nails.
Both proteins are easy to absorb and will keep you full for a long time, and they don’t trigger inflammation like milk protein does for some people.
Whey and collagen are the gold standards for protein.
Coconut oil, MCT oil, nut butters, cacao butter, and other whole-food fats are all a sign of a high-quality keto snack bar.
Avoid bars that contain hydrogenated oils, soybean oil, canola oil, and other inflammatory fats.
Ideally, your keto protein bar will have nutrient-dense ingredients that come from whole foods. Processed or artificial ingredients usually don’t have much nutritional value.
Quest Bars are keto-friendly, but they contain a few low-quality ingredients that you may want to avoid.
If you’re looking for a keto bar that uses whole-food ingredients and zero artificial sweeteners, we recommend Perfect Keto Bars.
Perfect Keto Bars contain natural ingredients, are preservative-free, and come in a variety of flavors like birthday cake and chocolate chip cookie dough. Give them a try — they’re a great way to get protein on the go while satisfying your keto cravings.