When you’re trying to build and maintain a keto lifestyle, there is one pretty obvious non-negotiable: you need to know whether the foods you’re eating are, well, keto.
And while this sounds easy on the surface, the carby waters of packaged foods can get a little muddy, especially when we dive into things like meal and snack bars.
This is why we’ve decided to do Built Bar reviews, it is one of the “favorites” among low-carb bars and we needed to find out: Are they keto?
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Are Built Bars Really Keto?
As keto has started trending in recent years, it’s hard to tell whether protein and low-carb bars that put “keto” on their labels are legitimate.
One of these is the Built Bar, which has been the topic of some debate online as to whether they’re truly keto.
In this Built Bar Review, we’re going to go through individual ingredients to determine their “ketomacy” (AKA keto-legitimacy), followed by commentary on their texture and flavor. Is the Built Bar built for keto?
Built Bar Ingredients
The Built Bar’s ingredients list isn’t too extensive (a good sign), and also contains many ingredients you want to see in healthy protein bars:
- Protein mix (whey protein isolate, partially hydrolyzed whey protein isolate)
- Dark chocolate (sugar, chocolate liqueur, cocoa butter, milkfat, soy lecithin, vanilla
- Digestion-resistant maltodextrin
- Natural flavor
- Citric acid
The first ingredients are whey protein isolate and partially hydrolyzed whey protein isolate, which are two of the best healthy protein options as far as digestibility and purity are concerned.
We also see fats such as cocoa butter, and one of the more neutral artificial sweeteners, erythritol. This is one of the keto-friendly sugar alcohols that won’t spike your blood sugar. It’s all the sweetness without the sugar!
These are all great pros, and classifies Built Bars as “technically” keto according to their ingredients list, which is low in carbs and sugar.
The one thing we would be careful of is maltodextrin – more on this later.
Built Bar Nutrition
The exact nutritional profile for each Built Bar depends on which flavor you’re looking at.
The Coconut Almond and Peanut Butter Brownie flavors are 180 calories each, while all the other flavors are 130 calories.
Aiming for weight loss? Maybe reach for the flavors that are a low 130 calories. Want a more filling snack? Enjoy all 180 calories of Peanut Butter Brownie or Coconut Almond!
Sadly, you’re no longer able to find Built Bars for 160 calories. They reformulated their recipe for each flavor, which means that they’re now either just lower or just higher than 160 calories.
Each built bar sits at around 4-6g of net carbs per bar, depending on flavor. This is thanks to around 6g fiber per bar. Remember – on keto, that 6g fiber doesn’t count toward your net carbs. The sugar alcohols also help to keep the net carbs low.
Of course, Built Bars are a protein bar, so they’re packed with a decent amount of protein at 17-19g per serving. For context, many protein bars have around 15g protein. And yes, Built Bars are gluten-free!
Built Bars Compared To Popular Protein Bars
Built Bar has broken down the macronutrient ratio of their bars on their site in comparison to other bars. Here’s how they stack up:
As you can see, Built Bars are lower in calories and sugars than other popular protein bars. However, they’re also lower in fat.
What they lose in the fat department, they make up for in protein. This isn’t always the most ideal for a keto bar – the general guideline is to aim for a higher fat-to-protein ratio – but isn’t exactly detrimental, either.
Peanut Butter Brownie Vs Chocolate Brownie: What Is The Best Built Bar Flavor?
This wouldn’t be a legit Built Bar review without talking about the taste! And if you’ve ever tried one before, you know they’re not exactly the most natural flavors (in a candy bar kind of way).
Mint brownie was also particularly tasty – who doesn’t love that mint chocolate combination?
The chocolate flavors (especially the double chocolate) and the peanut butter and cookies n’ cream were decent and more natural tasting.
On the other hand, the fruit flavors had a stronger, more artificial taste we didn’t particularly love. However, if you have an extreme sweet tooth, you may enjoy the fruit flavors.
We recommend getting a mixed box and finding your favorite flavor – but definitely don’t skip the salted caramel or chocolate flavor!
Full List Of Built Bar Flavors:
- Salted caramel
- Coconut almond
- Double chocolate (also known as double chocolate mousse)
- Mint brownie
- Peanut butter brownie
- Cookies n’ cream
- Cherry barcia
Built Bar has also reformulated some of these flavors improve taste and texture.
New Built Bar Flavors
Built Bar has announced some new flavors in the past few years, but they’re pretty hard to find online and even on the official website. These are:
- Caramel brownie
- Carrot cake with walnuts
- Toffee almond
- Banana bread
- German chocolate cake
- Apple almond crisp
- Lemon almond cheesecake
- Mango chocolate creme
Have you seen the new Built Bar flavors in the wild? Let us know if you find them anywhere – especially toffee almond, German chocolate cake or carrot cake!
But to be honest, we’ll pass on mango chocolate creme.
Built Bar Texture
If you’re after a dark chocolate-covered protein bar that doesn’t just taste like a candy bar, but feels like one too, Built Bars are for you.
Their texture is a mixture between marshmallow and gooey caramel. This is a big improvement on the old texture, which tasted like a rather difficult-to-chew nougat bar!
Personally, we much prefer the new Built Bar texture.
Are Built Bars Sold In Stores?
Built bars are currently available online only, both from their website and on sites like Amazon and Walmart. You can purchase individual bars, a box of each flavor, or a mixed box containing a blend of flavors.
Key Points To Consider When Looking For Keto Bars
If you’re on the fence about Built Bars and are wondering what to look for in your next bar, keep this suggestion list handy.
Net Carbs and Artificial Sweeteners
If you’ve been keto for a while, you know the deal with net carbs: you want to subtract the fiber from the total carbohydrate count in your bar to arrive at the true carb count. The count should be a reasonable addition to your total daily carb count.
Be sure to pay attention to sugars and added sugars in addition to this, as you definitely want your added sugars to be under 5-6 grams.
In addition, try to limit bars that contain artificial sweeteners. Some studies have shown that sucralose specifically causes a rise in insulin levels, and has even been linked to the development of diabetes.
Better choices for artificial or sugar-free sweeteners are erythritol and stevia, which studies indicate don’t show a similar insulin response as sucralose.
Fat to Protein Ratio
As we saw earlier, Built Bars have a high protein to fat ratio. A typical keto diet prefers the reverse: a higher fat to protein ratio.
This is because your body uses fat as its primary energy source on a keto diet to produce ketones. Without enough of it, you could risk not getting the calorie requirements you need to function optimally during the day, which could lead to fatigue or low performance.
It’s easy to assume that just because an ingredient is only an additive (such as a preservative or thickener) that it doesn’t cause a glycemic response or contain carbs. However, this isn’t always the case!
Studies show that maltodextrin, one of the additives in Built Bars and one of the more popular additives in processed foods, actually has a glycemic index similar to that of rice and sweet corn.
Now before panic sets in, we discussed earlier that you’ll typically see additives like maltodextrin closer to the end of the ingredient list. This means that there’s less of this particular ingredient in the product than the “main” ingredients.
It might help to know that not all additives are created equal when it comes to glucose response, and that some medical sites recommend avoiding maltodextrin due to its effects on blood sugar.
Make sure to be aware of this potential risk and if possible, try to reach for a bar with very minimal net sugars. This way, if it does contain maltodextrin, you can rest easy knowing it won’t toss you out of ketosis.
Clean, Healthy Ingredients
If you’ve been protein bar shopping for a while, you’ve probably noticed many contain some unpronounceable ingredients.
While these may technically be keto, sticking to more natural and healthy protein bar ingredients can not only help you avoid things that cause a blood sugar spike (like maltodextrin), but can also provide more nutrition.
Look for natural oils like coconut and MCT oil in your protein bar, plus natural fats like nut butters, nuts, chia seeds, and clean protein like whey.
Are All Those Built Bar Reviews True? Our Final Thoughts
To recap, the nutrition facts do reflect that they are technically keto. However, we had concerns regarding the artificial taste and texture.
Yes, Built Bars are low-sugar, low in net carbs, high in protein and taste like a real candy bar. But is this great-tasting protein bar one of the best protein bars to be eating every day on a keto diet? Maybe – and maybe not.
There are many healthy protein bars that can offer a more favorable fat content than the Built Bar, though they may be a little higher in calories. Here is a list of protein bars that we have ranked.
While decent, they seemed far too much like a candy bar for us to consider keeping them in the house, much less eating them every day.
The combination of tastes-like-candy-bar flavor and irresistible texture can make it hard to stop yourself from eating the entire box – especially when a flavor like peanut butter, salted caramel or chocolate is involved.
And if you’ve followed a keto diet for a while, you know that a little too much fiber or sugar alcohols in one sitting can spell bad news for your poor tummy.
However, many people absolutely love the taste and consider them a keto treat they can indulge in when they’re craving a candy bar.