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.