Snacking is part of our everyday life and now that we are following the low FODMAP diet there is more to consider than just taste. This article is an in-depth look at low FODMAP energy bars aka high protein and snack bars that are low FODMAP diet compliant – there are even plenty of low FODMAP tested and certified choices – almost 60 of them!
- Low FODMAP Energy Bars: Snack Bar vs. Protein Bar
- How We Define Snack Bar
- How We Define Protein Bar
- Are You Afraid To Eat An Energy Bar?
- How Low FODMAP Energy Bars Are Created
- When To Eat An Energy Bar
- Read Those Energy Bar Labels!
- How To Choose The Right Low FODMAP Energy Bar
- Lab Certification: Monash University, FODMAP Friendly & Rachel Pauls
- Low FODMAP Energy Bar Serving Sizes
- A Note On Our Reporting
- Read Labels: What To Watch Out For
- Pea Protein – The Elephant In The Room
- A Note About Soluble Tapioca Fiber
- Organic vs. Non-Organic
- Lab Tested Certified Low FODMAP Energy Bars
- Low FODMAP Energy Bar Chart Key
- The Takeaway
We have divided our initial discussion into snack bars and high protein bars.
Low FODMAP Energy Bars: Snack Bar vs. Protein Bar
While many people use the terms snack bar, energy bar and protein bar interchangeably, we look at them as different products. To us “energy bar” is the catchall term, with snack bars and protein bars being types of energy bars.
First of all, technically, calories are a unit of energy. Calories refer to the energy people get from the food and drink they consume, as well as the energy they use in physical activity. The most popular search term for bars is actually “energy bar”, which makes sense, since all of these bars contain calories and give you some sort of energy. But we drilled it down a bit further.
How We Define Snack Bar
A snack bar is often higher in sugars and carbs. Sometimes they can even verge on being candy-like or more like a baked-good or brownie/bar hybrid. Not that there is anything wrong with that! We just want you to know what you are eating.
How We Define Protein Bar
Protein bars are typically higher in protein, but after our own research and a conversation with a FDA representative, our eyes were opened. Here is what we learned:
- There are bars with the word protein in the title that have less protein than others that do not.
- The FDA makes a distinction between a bar that says it simply contains or provides protein, and one that specifically says it is “high protein” or is “a good source of protein”.
- The recommended amount of protein for an adult is .8 g protein per kg of weight, or .36 g per pound, which comes to 46 grams per day for the average sedentary woman, and 56 grams per day for the average sedentary man. 51 g is the average.
- According to the FDA, a bar that simply “provides protein” should contain 10% – 19% of the recommended daily intake of protein; this would be 5.1 g to 9.7 g of protein per bar.
- A bar that touts itself as “high protein” or a “good source of protein” must provide at least 20% or more of the recommended daily intake of protein; this would be 10.2 g per serving.
- There are bars that exceed the 20% requirement and are truly “high protein”.
- If the word “protein” is part of the brand name, such as Joe’s Protein Bars (this is a made-up example) then the FDA requirements for protein in a bar do not apply.
- There are bars that use the term “protein” on their packaging that are not “high protein” according to FDA regulations. Buyer beware!
Are You Afraid To Eat An Energy Bar?
It is a hard cold fact that many of us with FODMAP intolerances have gone through periods of time when we were literally afraid to eat food, in fear of triggering our IBS symptoms. This was the case for BelliWelli founder Katie Wilson. She and her husband initially created a bar so that she could have a treat, without paying for it later. (Check out our interview with her to learn more about her IBS journey and her brand).
Read our interview with BelliWelli founder Katie Wilson and grab a discount on your order of BelliWelli Bars!
But then, as Katie put it: “I was eating our bars upwards of 4 times a day and for the first time in years, I was LOOKING FORWARD to snacks. I had totally forgotten that eating/snacking could be fun and fear-free. I knew I had to make these available to the rest of the community.”
THANK YOU, KATIE!
It is intrepid entrepreneurs such as she that we have to thank for low FODMAP bars that fit our lifestyle and our palates. And BelliWelli bars are low FODMAP certified by Monash University, so we are assured of their low FODMAP status.
How Low FODMAP Energy Bars Are Created
You will see from our downloadable chart that not all bars are created equal – not by a longshot. Some are very high in sugar or fat. Others are low in fiber, or are based on animal-based ingredients like whey protein, which not everyone wants.
We asked Katie Wilson how they came up with their BelliWelli bar ingredients:
“Low FODMAP was important, but as someone who also had a hard time with gluten and dairy, I didn’t want to take any chances – I knew our bars had to not only be low FODMAP but also gluten-free, and dairy-free. Many in the gut-challenged community can eat dairy and/or gluten with no problems, but I wanted this to be a safe choice for ANYONE who struggles with dietary restrictions.
It was important to me that our bars contained less than 10 grams of sugar as well. As a consumer, I was often disappointed to find that many of my go-to gluten-free, low FODMAP snacks were packed with sugar. I wanted to do it differently. And lastly, we added probiotics. I was constantly consuming yogurt to get extra probiotics in my diet – but yogurt is often full of sugar alcohols. I thought to myself – ‘you should be able to eat a brownie and get probiotics at the same time. I’m tired of yogurt’. Let me tell you…adding probiotics to a BAKED product is NOT easy. Worth it, but not easy.”
As of this writing BelliWelli bars are the only FODMAP diet compliant bars that we have found with prebiotics and probiotics. Their formula includes whole grains and chia, sugar, brown rice syrup and 4 g of fiber. Great news for those looking for a plant-based protein source in a bar with no stevia and a good amount of fiber.
You May Want To Read:
- IBS & Probiotics: Should I Take Them?
- Our Favorite Prebiotic Low FODMAP Foods
- Fiber and IBS: What You Need To Know
When To Eat An Energy Bar
Regular nutritious meals are good for everybody, and that includes FODMAPers, but as we said before, hardly a day goes by when we don’t need some sort of snack. Here are the times that seem to demand snacking the most and when a bar could be a handy choice:
- Mid-morning or mid-afternoon slump
- Pre- or post-workout
- On a busy day when you “forget” to eat breakfast or lunch
- When you are rushing from one appointment to another, and you need sustenance
- When your blood sugar tanks, and you need to dive into your pocket or bag for something NOW
- As an occasional meal replacement
Energy Bar Pros
As with anything, there are pros and cons. Let’s look at what energy bars give us:
- They are portable
- Ready to eat
- Easy to eat
- Fairly shelf-stable
- They can be high protein
- They can be nutrient dense
- Low FODMAP certified bars are guaranteed low FODMAP
Energy Bar Cons
- Some are highly processed
- They can be pricey
- Some are high in fat and sugar
- High FODMAP ingredients can be hard to decipher on some labels
Read Those Energy Bar Labels!
You have to be a label reader when following the low FODMAP diet. Ingredients are listed in order of amount, by weight, from greatest amount to least.
Please note that some labels might list high FODMAP ingredients, but they might be in small amounts, far down on the label order. Some labels might even say, “contains 2% or less” and then go on to list ingredients.
It is our Success Team dietitian’s opinions that if an ingredient is present in less than 2% it is unlikely to cause IBS distress. This doesn’t mean it is guaranteed to not trigger symptoms, but you can try products, such as the MariGold bars listed in our PDF. They contain chicory root, but it is less than 2%.
Always eat to your own tolerance.
To brush up on how to make energy bar choices, please review our articles:
- How To Read a FDA Nutrition Facts Label
- How To Decipher “Natural Flavors” & “Spices” on Food Labels for the Low FODMAP Diet
- How To Read a Low FODMAP Certified Food Product Label
- How To Read Food Labels For the Low FODMAP Diet With Confidence
How To Choose The Right Low FODMAP Energy Bar
The right bar for you might not be the right bar for me, and you also might have different needs at different times, so this is not an easy question to answer.
If you are looking for a pre- or post-workout bar, then higher carbohydrates might be important to you.
TOP 10 Certified Low FODMAP Energy Bars with Highest Carb Count
- GoMacro Sunflower Butter + Chocolate 38 g
- GoMacro Mocha Chocolate Chip 37 g
- GoMacro Dark Chocolate + Almonds 37 g
- GoMacro Coconut + Almond Butter + Chocolate Chips 36 g
- GoMacro Peanut Butter 36 g
- GoMacro Banana + Almond Butter 35 g
- GoMacro Granola + Coconut 32 g
- Enjoy Life Berry Medley Breakfast Ovals 31 g
- Enjoy Life Maple Fig Breakfast Ovals 31 g
If you are looking for protein in particular, then the amount of protein per bar/serving will be of prime importance.
Top 10 Certified Low FODMAP Energy Bars with Highest Protein
- Stellar Labs Cacao Chip Bar 20 g
- ES Protein Chocolate Protein Bar 18 g
- Fodbods Peanut & Choc Chunk Bars 15.7 g (AU and NZ only)
- Fodbods Banana & Peanut Butter Bar 15.7 g (AU and NZ only)
- Fodbods Lemon & Coconut Bar 14.3 g (AU and NZ only)
- Brass Roots Classic Sacha Inchi Seed Bar 14 g
- Stellar Labs Strawberry Cacao Bar 12 g
- GoMacro Peanut Butter 11 g
- GoMacro Coconut + Almond Butter + Chocolate Chips 11 g
- GoMacro Banana + Almond Butter 11 g
You might be looking for a bar to provide fiber, or to be lower in sugar or fat.
Our downloadable chart brings you the information you need to make the right decision for you.
Lab Certification: Monash University, FODMAP Friendly & Rachel Pauls
THIS IS IMPORTANT! Hence the caps. There are many lab tested and low FODMAP certified bars such as BelliWelli and others. If a bar is certified it is guaranteed to be low FODMAP in the serving sizes recommended. Period.
The reason why manufacturers spend the money on certification is to bring you this low FODMAP assurance.
The reason we point this out is because you might see bars that contain apple juice concentrate (Fody), dates (Enjoy Life), or coconut sugar (GoMacro) or other ingredients that you might know of as “high FODMAP”, and yet the bars are low FODMAP certified.
This is because the diet is very much related to portions. Please review our article, High FODMAP Foods With Low FODMAP Serving Sizes, for more info.
You are probably aware that Monash University & FODMAP Friendly have certification programs and the products that they lab test and certify are listed on their sites and apps. The Rachel Pauls’ brand lab tests their products for FODMAPs and certifies their low FODMAP status as well.
You May Want To Read: Dr. Rachel Pauls: The Woman Behind The Brand
Low FODMAP Energy Bar Serving Sizes
Our downloadable list clearly presents which bars have been lab tested and which have not. And we have provided a list of the low FODMAP certified bars at the end of this article.
If a bar has not gone through the Monash, FODMAP Friendly or Rachel Pauls certification then it is up to you to assess a proper serving size for, which will be individual (as all FODMAP servings are).
Please review our articles, What If A Food Has Not Been Lab Tested? and Ask The Right Question: Is It Low FODMAP Vs. Can I Tolerate This?
As an example, 88 Acres has protein bars that are based on pumpkin seeds. The ingredients are low FODMAP, but the bars have not been lab tested or certified. You have to educate yourself in order to navigate the low FODMAP diet. There is no getting around it.
Here is what you would need to know to make an assessment using these 88 Acres bars as an example:
- Monash has lab tested pumpkin seeds and say that a Green Light low FODMAP serving size is 23 g, or 2 Australian tablespoons.
- They become high FODMAP at 100 g according to Monash. That is a lot of wiggle room.
- FODMAP Friendly says that a low FODMAP serving of pumpkin seeds is 30 g.
- One 88 Acres Dark Chocolate Brownie Protein Bar weighs 55 g
- The ingredients are, in this order, Organic Pumpkin Seeds, Maple Syrup, Organic Dark Chocolate (Organic Cane Sugar, Organic Chocolate, Organic Cocoa Butter, Organic Vanilla Extract), Brown Rice Syrup, Organic Cocoa Powder, Organic Sunflower Lecithin, Sea Salt, Organic Expeller Pressed Sunflower Oil.
- This tells us that of that 55 g, the ingredient in the greatest amount is the pumpkin seeds
- All of those ingredients are low FODMAP at some serving size.
- This bar is low FODMAP at some amount and will likely be tolerated by many.
- After structured Elimination and Challenge Phases you will know your tolerances to these ingredients.
- Some people with IBS and FODMAP intolerances will be able to tolerate these bars, while others may not.
- Always eat to your own personal tolerance.
- You might tolerate one whole bar – or maybe not!
1 Bar Is Not Always 1 Serving
Do not assume that 1 whole bar is a “serving size” per the nutrition label. Some of these brands set a serving size at two bars (Nature Valley), while others (I am looking at you, Bobo’s) set a serving size at half a bar/package. Read. Read. Read.
A Note On Our Reporting
We have assembled our downloadable list using information direct from the manufacturers of the individual products. Please note that we have found contradictory information and also, since the products originate in different countries, they are not all under the same governmental rules and regulations for their labeling and declarations.
For instance, we found bars that are labeled as vegan, but “milk products may be present”.
There are bars that claim, “no added sugars”, yet they have stevia on the ingredient label. While stevia is considered a non-nutritive sweetener and not a “sugar”, this is not understood by all consumers.
We understand that this can make it confusing for the consumer, but as they say, don’t shoot the messenger. If you have questions about a particular product, please address your queries with the manufacturer directly.
Read Labels: What To Watch Out For
While we have brought you a downloadable list with over 100 bars that have been vetted, we also want to educate you so that you can make your own decisions while shopping.
Here is a list of some ingredients that can be problematic while following the low FODMAP diet:
- Agave – unless sugar content on label is 5 grams or less per serving per Monash recommendations
- Cashews – found in many bars
- Chicory root
- Fava beans, also known as faba beans and broad beans
- Fruits: In the form of dried fruit, juice concentrates & purées, watch out for: apples, cherries, dates, figs and mango in particular as they are used in many bars
- High fructose corn syrup (HFCS)
- Honey – unless sugar content on label is 7 grams or less per serving per Monash recommendations
- Milk protein
- Milk protein concentrate
- Nonfat dry milk
- Raisins & Raisin Juice Concentrate – raisins are low FODMAP in amounts of 13 g, as assessed by Monash, and 30 g as assessed by FODMAP Friendly, but a raisin juice concentrate amount is hard to determine in a bar
- Soy flour
- Soy protein concentrate
- Sugar Alcohols – Maltitol, Mannitol, Sorbitol, Xylitol. Erythritol is in many lab tested and certified low FODMAP products and is not as much of an issue.
- Whey protein concentrate
Pea Protein – The Elephant In The Room
As you probably know by now FODMAPs are carbohydrates and therefore pure fats and proteins do not contain FODMAPs. Pea protein is a protein, and it is found in many processed products including many energy bars. But the issue is that it is a processed protein, and some pea protein seems to be purer than others, meaning they have a much better protein content profile, while others have carbohydrates – and possible FODMAPs – lurking.
We have an in-depth article for you to read called Is Pea Protein Low FODMAP? which we encourage you to read.
You May Want To Read:
The takeaway on pea protein is that there are energy bars that contain pea protein that have passed lab testing and low FODMAP certification, and at the same time, we hear anecdotally all the time that processed pea protein does not agree with everyone.
As always, eat to your own tolerance.
A Note About Soluble Tapioca Fiber
While many fibers can be a high FODMAP red flag, we have seen several products that are lab tested and certified low FODMAP that contain “soluble tapioca fiber”. The problem with this ingredient, and with isomalto-oligosaccharides, according to research and our RDs, is that unless we know how these ingredients are manufactured, we do not know much about their digestibility. Some processing can apparently leave them more digestible from a low FODMAP perspective, but not all processing will have this result.
Our suggestion is that if you see soluble tapioca fiber or isomalto-oligosaccharides on a label that you make a note, try the bar, and see how you do. The exception of course is if the bar has been lab tested and certified, in which case you have the guarantee that the bar is low FODMAP – but not necessarily that you will not experience IBS triggers.
By the way, soluble tapioca fiber is considered a prebiotic.
Organic vs. Non-Organic
This is another aspect that can be confusing. If a product has been certified as organic, we have reported it as such, however, there are bars that have many organic ingredients, and yet they do not have an organic certification. In this case we have not labeled them as “organic” as they have not for themselves, either. As always, read labels!
Lab Tested Certified Low FODMAP Energy Bars
Below is a list of almost 60 bars that have been lab tested and certified low FODMAP by Monash University, FODMAP Friendly or Rachel Pauls.
Please note that some of these products are only available in the U.S.A, or AU or UK.
For a complete list of low FODMAP bars – over 100! – please download our PDF . That document also gives you further information than the list directly below such as gluten-free, lactose-free, dairy-free, vegan and organic status, as well as whether any prebiotics or probiotics are added, in addition to protein source, sweeteners used, calories, protein, carbs, sugars, fat, fiber and texture description.
Some of these products are available only in select markets (USA or Australia)
- BelliWelli Fudge Brownie
- BelliWelli Lemon White Chocolate
- BelliWelli Minty Chocolate
- BelliWelli Cinnamon Swirl
- Brass Roots Classic Sacha Inchi Bar
- Carman’s Super Berry Muesli Bars
- Carman’s Original Fruit Free Muesli
- Carman’s Dark Chocolate Nut Espresso Bars
- Enjoy Life Cocoa Loco Chewy Bars
- Enjoy Life Berry Medley Breakfast Ovals
- Enjoy Life Maple Fig Breakfast Ovals
- Enjoy Life Chocolate Chip Banana Breakfast Oval
- Enjoy Life Dark Raspberry Protein Bites
- Enjoy Life Dipped Banana Protein Bites
- Enjoy Life SunSeed Butter Protein Bites
- Epicured Mocha Espresso Energy Bites
- Epicured Peanut Butter & Chocolate Energy Bites
- Epicured Almond & Cranberry Energy Bites
- Epicured Lemon Coconut Energy Bites
- ES Protein Chocolate Protein Bar
- Fodbods Mint Chocolate Bar
- Fodbods Peanut & Choc Chunk Bars
- Fodbods Lemon & Coconut Bar
- Fodbods Raspberry Coconut Bar
- Fodbods Banana & Peanut Butter Bar
- Fodbods Mini Raspberry Coconut Bar
- Fodbods Mini Mint Chocolate Bar
- Fody Almond Coconut Snack Bar
- Fody Blueberry Almond Bar
- Fody Dark Chocolate Nuts & Sea Salt Bar
- Fody Peanut Butter Chocolate Quinoa Bar
- Food for Health Fruit Free Bar with Almond & Chia
- Food for Health Fruit Free Bar with Sea Salt & Caramel
- GoMacro Sunflower Butter + Chocolate
- GoMacro Mocha Chocolate Chip
- GoMacro Dark Chocolate + Almonds
- GoMacro Coconut + Almond Butter + Chocolate Chips
- GoMacro Granola + Coconut
- GoMacro Banana + Almond Butter
- GoMacro Peanut Butter
- Go Macro Double Chocolate + Peanut Butter Chips Mini
- Go Macro Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Mini
- Go Macro Sunflower Butter + Chocolate Chip Mini
- Go Macro Coconut Almond Butter Chocolate Chip Mini
- Go Macro Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Mini
- Go Macro Maple Sea Salt Mini
- Rachel Pauls Happy Bars Banana Chocolate Glee
- Rachel Pauls Happy Bars Chocolate Chip Delight
- Rachel Pauls Happy Bars Oatmeal Raisin Bliss
- Rachel Pauls Happy Bars Orange Chocolate Ecstasy
- Rachel Pauls Happy Bars Peanut Butter Euphoria
- Rachel Pauls Happy Bars Peanut Maple Pleasure
- Stellar Labs Strawberry Cacao Bar
- Stellar Labs Cacao Chip Bar
- Vedge Chinese Broccoli
- Vedge Carrot & Cinnamon
Low FODMAP Energy Bar Chart Key
Green means YES for that particular column, red means NO. The designations for Gluten-Free (GF), Dairy-Free (DF) and Vegan are as reported by the manufacturer.
If you are following the low FODMAP diet and want an energy bar, we have listed over 100 curated and vetted bars from which to choose. Almost 60 of them, including BelliWelli Bars, are lab tested and certified low FODMAP. As always, eat to your own tolerances. If you are stable and in your Challenge Phase, why not branch out and try something new? Whether you have a hankering for chocolate, something fruity, nutty, soft-baked, chewy, crunchy, whey-based, high-fiber or vegetable focused, there is a low FODMAP bar for you.