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Laura Dolson

New Atkins Bars: Are They An Improvement?

By October 12, 2009

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atkins Atkins Nutritionals, Inc, has added some new products to their three lines of bars, and sent me three of the new bars to test prior to my being able to buy them in stores. I gathered a few people to help me check them out.

When it comes to low-carb nutritional bars, there are two issues of importance: the probability of the bar raising blood sugar, and how good they taste. In general, Atkins bars in recent years have done quite well on both of these dimensions. (Previous Atkins Bars Review) But how do the new ones stack up?

A trend I see as disturbing with the new bars is that of the six new bars, five of them contain maltitol in varying amounts (anywhere from 5 to 11 grams). This is especially disappointing because Atkins "Day Break" and "Advantage" lines of bars are some of the few meal replacement or snack bars on the market which don't generally contain maltitol. This is an important reason why I have recommended them in the past. I have written quite a lot about the problems with maltitol, but the short version is that maltitol is a sugar alcohol, so can be included in products which claim to be sugar-free, however, maltitol not only raises blood glucose almost as much as sugar for the amount of sweetness it provides, but also causes intestinal distress in many people. Maltitol syrup has an even higher glycemic index than plain maltitol, and two of the new products have maltitol syrup. (For the relative glycemic index ratings of different sugar alcohols, see the chart at the bottom of this information about sugar alcohols.)

On the other hand, not all people respond negatively to maltitol, and Atkins is to my knowledge the only major company producing low-carb products to test the glycemic impact of those products (though historically not on diabetics).

Results of Tastings of New Atkins Bars

We tested three bars, one from each of the different Atkins lines.

Sweet and Salty Almond Crunch Bar (Advantage line): These bars are mainly a variety of nuts and seeds bound together with a sticky syrup-like substance (which contains maltitol syrup). Tasters mostly liked the sweet/salty combination as well as the combination of nut and seed flavors, although one found it a little too salty. The main complaint was that the bar was so sticky it was difficult to remove from the wrapper, and one person made the mistake of putting her portion down on a napkin, which adhered to the bar. 4 grams net carbs in the bar, plus 6 grams from the maltitol syrup, and 5 grams of fiber

Chocolate Oatmeal Fiber Bar (Day Break line): Everyone liked the flavor of this oatmeal bar with chocolate chips. Comments: "Not an appetizing name, but I like it a lot." "Like a tasty oatmeal chocolate chip cookie." "The chocolate compliments the bar well." "A little too sweet." 7 net carbs in the bar, plus 5 grams from maltitol and maltitol syrup, and 10 grams of fiber.

Chocolate Caramel Mousse Bar (Endulge line): This candy is made up of chocolate covering a "whipped chocoolate center" and a layer of caramel. Tasters were all surprised that this bar had less chocolate flavor than the fiber bar above, and were generally disappointed in this one. "Has the consistency of a Milky Way, but not the taste." "Mostly just sweet - the layers don't taste that different from each other." "Attempt at nougat is unsuccessful." "Where is the mousse?" 2 net carbs, plus 11 grams from maltitol and maltitol syrup, and 9 grams of fiber.

All in all, I don't see the three new bars we tried as being better than the other Atkins bars on the market. I will try some of the others, but continue to recommend that people stay away from products with a significant amount of maltitol.

More Information About Atkins Products, from Atkins Nutritionals

Image Courtesy of Atkins Nutritionals, Inc.

Related Resources:
October 12, 2009 at 2:13 pm
(1) JJ says:

This makes me so sad. As a WLS patient, I depended on the Atkins bars so much for snacks and meal replacements. I have noticed more stomach problems lately and had not attributed it to the change in these until I read your article. Having just looked at all the boxes, I see they all have it now. I won’t be purchasing these anymore and will be on the search for a new product to fill my high protein/low carb needs.

October 12, 2009 at 3:03 pm
(2) Dave S. says:

Are there any low-carb bars that only contain only Erythritol or Mannitol?

October 13, 2009 at 2:50 pm
(3) Lahle Wolfe says:

On behalf of those of us who have diabetes, thank you for again for reminding people that sugar alcohols DO have an impact on blood sugar.

I have yet to have an Atkins bar (even those with “net 2 carbs”) that did not require an insulin bolus.

October 13, 2009 at 5:34 pm
(4) Kathy says:

I really like the new Kellogg’s Fiber Plus Antioxidants: 130 cal, 24g carb, 9g fiber; the Dark Chocolate Almond one is very tasty – a very satisfying mouth feel & taste.

January 20, 2011 at 8:05 pm
(5) John p says:

It appears they have updated their entire line to now have maltitol. I am looking at two bars purchases 6 months apart, and the newer ones are using it.

May 15, 2011 at 4:52 pm
(6) Mitsy says:

Don’t know if anyone is still looking at this article anymore, but I bought the sweet & salty flavor not too long ago & found them so incredibly hard, that you could almost break a tooth trying to eat them. I thought this particular flavor was really bad–no type of filler in there besides the nuts and the honey-like substance which held it together. Atkins charges $2-4 more per box compared to Zone or Slimfast bars which I actually like a lot better. The carb comparisons between Zone & Atkins is not worth the extreme cost of Atkins plus I like the flavor options better with Zone. I wrote to the Atkins website & complained about this bar & they are supposedly going to send me a coupon. I won’t buy this flavor ever again.

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