Crispy. Light. Sweet. Clean-tasting. Good looking. Won’t fall apart. Inexpensive.
These qualities are not easy to find in the world of low-carb and keto foods. Certainly not all in the same item.
Aldi has managed to pull it off. I am impressed.
I tried Aldi’s Millville food low carb bars. store brand’s Carb Conscious Elevation Breaktime Snack Bars. The two varieties are Cranberry Almond and Peanut Butter Fudge Crisp. Each provides 10g protein and 2 net grams carbohydrate (16g total, minus fiber and sugar alcohol). The Cranberry Almond bars have 6g fat; the Peanut Butter Fudge Crisp bars have 7g fat.
I am impressed. These are perfect for that afternoon sleepy slump, where you want something sweet and tasty. A delightful pick-me-up. That’s when I want to reach for a sugar boost, but inevitably it just makes me feel worse. Crash. These bars have the taste and texture I want, but the boost is better: it’s a fat and protein boost. So snacking on one of these provides real satisfaction.
I definitely can see eating these as low carb breakfast bars from time to time. Great for times when you need a low carb keto breakfast on the go.
Totally will stock up on these before my next road trip, too. Keto road food can be tricky.
I'll keep buying, trying, and reviewing until I find the best protein bars for weight loss, and for general keto snacking. And, I'll be researching and experimenting to figure out how to make keto protein bars that are nutritious, wholesome, and of course, scrumptious. Keep coming back for when I have that protein bar recipe!
I’m continuing to look for cheap protein bars without soy. I'm not a fan of high-tech soy products. Unfortunately, an Aldi's Millville Carb Conscious bar doesn't fit that description. It does contain some whey protein. The whey comes in the form of whey protein concentrate (cranberry bars only) and whey protein isolate — I think that’s the same thing as what you get in a container of whey isolate protein powder) but mostly the protein comes from soy, in the forms of soy protein isolate and isolated soy protein. (There's a difference, I guess?) So, I wouldn’t categorize these Millville food bars as whey protein bars.
To be fair, though Aldi doesn’t bill these as low carb protein bars, but as low carb snack bars. There is a Millville protein bar, but it’s not a low carb bar. The Millville Elevation protein bar contains net carbs galore, along with all the protein. Oh well.
Trying out the low carb snack bars from Aldi
First I tried one of the Cranberry Almond bars. It was getting close to noon, and I’d forgotten to eat breakfast before leaving the house to go grocery shopping around ten. (Only when I’m keto adapted is such a thing possible, by the way.) By the Donald pulled out of the Aldi lot and headed for Costco, I was pure appetite. A great time to try one of these bars. When I opened the foil wrapper, a delicate fruity smell wafted out. I bit through the pretty, glossy yogurt icing (made with whey protein concentrate and cultured skim milk) and the crispy bar studded with fruit and nuts — the crunch was audible.
If I didn’t know better, I would have attributed the airy, crispy body of the bar to rice — it was a lot like eating a rice crispy treat. Millville Elevation Breaktime low carb snack bars get their crisp from soy, however. The first ingredient is something they call “soy crisps,” which I haven’t so far found listed or described as a standalone ingredient elsewhere. (There a a few products named “Soy Crisps” from other companies, but they’re completely different.) Millville soy crisps have just two ingredients: isolated soy protein and tapioca starch. Usually I steer clear of high-tech soy products. But I don’t plan to base my entire ketogenic diet around low carb snack bars, so I’m calling this a good tradeoff for me. If I’m going to eat a high-tech snack, I’m glad I can choose one that’s not all sugar and starch.
The bar was so good, and I was so hungry, that I expected to wolf the whole bar down before we got to the next store, but that low carb miracle occured: satiation. Yep, I only ate a quarter of it before going into the store. That’s the power of just a protein and fat versus carbohydrate. Even just a few grams provide deep satiation fast, with long-lasting nourishment. If you’ve been practicing keto for any length of time at all, you know that’s why it’s so darn near impossible to overeat on keto.
Those two little bites fueled an entire trip through Costco. If you’re a Costo nut like me, you know that’s an achievement. I ate the rest on the way home, and somehow didn’t need anything else until the side dish I made to go along with our rotisserie chicken was ready to serve.
These bars aren’t just tasty; they can be effective as a satisfying stopgap mini-meal. Those “I’ll just eat a little something real quick” situations are the worst for me. It’s so easy to nosh on something that makes me drag instead of energizing me. Then a little more, because I still need energy. Then more, and next thing I know, I’m stuffed, without ever having eaten well. Has that ever happened to you?
I’m big believer in living on delicious dishes made from whole foods that you cook at home — especially if you grew it or fermented it yourself, too! But that doesn’t happen 100% of the time. It makes sense to me to fit good ready-made products like this can fit into my keto-focused whole foods lifestyle.
Comparison with Atkins bars and other snack bars
The bars I tried were the Carb Conscious “breaktime snack bars.” Aldi also makes two different Carb Conscious “treat bars” (candy bars) and three varieties of “light meal/snack bars.” I haven’t tried any of these others yet, but I’m looking forward to it.
At the Aldi where I bought these near Madison, Wisconsin, the box of five bars cost $4.79. That breaks down to 95 cents a bar. Considering that an ordinary Snickers bar costs more than dollar these days, I call that cheap.
The Aldi bars cost less than their Atkins equivalent, Atkins Day Break bars. A box of those costs nearly $7 on the Atkins website.
In the mainstream snack bar world, the closest thing to a Nature Valley cranberry almond bar seemed to be the Nature Valley fruit and nut chewy granola bar with pomegranates, cherries, and almonds. They’re quite a bit cheaper: about 42 cents a bar when you buy a box of 12 at Walmart. The calorie count is nearly the same — 140 calories in Nature Valley bar versus 150 calories in either the Aldi or the Atkins snack bars. But the Nature Valley snack bar has only 2g protein — and a whopping 23g net carbs! That’s from 25g total carbohydrate, 8g of which is sugar. We shall not speak of them again.
Like the Atkins Day Break low carb snack bars, the Elevation low carb snack bars come in a box of five individually wrapped bars, each 150 calories. The protein and fat counts are similar.
Both the Atkins and Aldi bars have just 2g net carbs to a bar. Aldi Elevation subtracts 9g of sugar alcohols and 5g fiber from the 16g total carbohydrate to come up with the 2g figure.
The Atkins snacks get to the 2g net carbs in a different way. First of all, Day Break bars are sweetened only with sucralose, and so there aren’t any sugar alcohols to subtract from the carb. Aldi Elevation Cherry Almond bars are sweetened with inulin, maltitol, and sucralose. Aldi Elevation Peanut Butter Fudge Crisp bars are sweetened with maltitol, sucralose, and acesulfame potassium.
The sucralose-only recipe for the Atkins Day Break bars gives me cause for concern. I worry that it would have a strong enough aftertaste to put me off it.
One of the things that impresses me the most about the Elevation bars is how very mild the aftertaste of sweetener is. For me, that’s always been a problem with noncaloric sweeteners on the low carb ketogenic diet: the aftertastes. Not everyone can sense those aftertastes, though — and I wish I didn’t! It’s a matter of individual physiology, it seems. If you aren’t sensitive to the aftertaste of sucralose, you definitely won’t taste it in the Aldi Elevation break time bars. As for me, I’m happy with it.
Here’s another thing that makes me wonder about the Atkins version of these bars: the Atkins Peanut Butter Fudge Crisp bar contains no peanut butter. The only peanut thing listed on the ingredient label is peanut oil. Hmm.
The Aldi bar label does list peanut butter. It even clarifies with a little parenthetical, like this: “peanut butter (ground peanuts).”
The Atkins cranberry almond bar ingredient label doesn’t seem quite as promising as the Aldi one. The Aldi ingredients indicate a yogurt coating with cultured dairy products (cultured whey protein concentrate, cultured skim milk), for example. The Aldi Millville bar also contains inulin (from chicory root) — which is good for your gut bacteria. Also, for what it’s worth the Atkins cranberry almond bar nutrition label on the website doesn’t match the website picture on the box.
The Aldi bars were a hit with my husband and teenage son, as well. My husband — who has a very sensitive palate — said, “I wouldn’t be able to tell this was low carb. I would think it had sugar.” That said, he was able to detect a bit of sweetener aftertaste with the Peanut Butter Fudge Crisp. With the Cranberry Almond bar, the cranberry tartness was similar enough to the sour aftertaste that it effectively masked it.
As for my teenage son, he devoured the Peanut Butter Fudge Crisp happily. When I explained that it was a low carb bar made with sugar alternatives, he cheered.