Unless you've been living under a proverbial rock, you’ve probably heard of the ketogenic diet (Chipotle offers the option on its menu now FYI). And if you’re like me circa 2016, you're intrigued. While the concept of a low-carb eating plan was never something I was particularly excited about because, like Oprah, I love bread, I decided to give it a go in the fall of 2016 after months of suffering from bloating, stomach pains, and brain fog.
For a refresher, the ketogenic, or keto diet, is a high-fat, low-carb, moderate-protein regimen that forces the body to burn fat for fuel, thanks to the reduction of carbohydrates; this fat-burning state is called ketosis. The keto diet has been proven as an effective way to lose weight, manage your insulin levels, and in some cases has been proven to help treat certain diseases such as Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, and heart disease.
While the keto diet typically recommends eating under 20 net carbs a day to allow your body to go into a full state of ketosis, a restrictive approach just didn't seem sustainable for me. After doing a bit of research, I happened upon the Healthful Pursuit blog by Leanne Vogel. This female-focused keto plan offers recipes, tools, and science-backed advice for how to use the ketogenic diet in a healthy, sustainable way. Using her tools, I was able to keep my net carb intake to around 50 carbs a day, which felt much more manageable and allowed me to incorporate foods I love, like popcorn, while still eating foods high in fat.
While I am the first to say I find the keto diet to be flexible, easy, and satisfying, I did miss the ease of grabbing a banana or smoothie and running out the door. Sure, I could grab a handful of almonds and prep some hard-boiled eggs, but that gets old real quick. I was disheartened to find that many grab-and-go protein bar options were too high in carbohydrates due to grain fillers to fit comfortably into my new diet. I tried intermittent fasting and bullet-proof coffee, but I soon realized I needed something more than a stick of butter and caffeine in the AM. Enter the IQ Bar.
Founded by Harvard-graduate Will Nitze, IQ Bar was born after Nitze himself made a change to his diet (more fat and fewer carbs to help alleviate his brain fog) and was discouraged with the lack of snack options that fit his new lifestyle. In 2016, he set out on a year-long journey to build his own product, and the prototype for IQ bar was born. After successfully launching a Kickstarter campaign, winning the highly competitive MassChallenge, launching in more than 4000 CVS locations, and receiving one million dollars in seed funding, it’s pretty clear this bar was something to pay attention to.
Nitze and his team decided to flip the typical protein bar narrative by meticulously formulating this bar around key nutrients to help support sustained cognitive energy, performance, and health. Instead of centering his product around high carbs (that are digested into our blood sugar) and low fat, these bars are high fat and low carb. Living up to their namesake, IQ Bars are really focused around cognitive function, using key brain-friendly ingredients such as Lion’s Mane, MCTs, omega-3s, flavonoids, vitamin-E, and choline.
So why high fat to combat brain fog? Apart from keeping you satiated, high-fat foods are critical for your brain health as your brain is the fattiest organ in your body and can't absorb key vitamins like A, E, K and D without dietary fat. In other words, even if you’re not trying the ketogenic diet, we can all benefit from a bit more healthy fat in our lives.
Available in seven delicious flavors and at only 1 to 2 grams of sugar, 4 grams of net carbs, and 10 to 11 grams of plant protein, this bar easily fits into a purse and my ketogenic lifestyle. Below are my favorite flavors.