on July 18, 2019
We all have our vices. If yours is a sweet tooth, you’re not alone. The average American consumes a jaw-dropping 22 pounds of candy per year.
If you’re looking to improve your life through the ketogenic diet, however, you’re going to have to make a few adjustments to your candy consumption habits. Read on as we share a few of the guidelines for eating candy on the keto diet and how you can still satisfy your cravings without kicking your body out of ketosis.
First things first: let’s talk about sugar. It’s the ingredient that makes candy so addictive and it goes by several names, including sucrose, dextrose, high fructose corn syrup and more.
No matter what you call them, all of the sugars found in your standard supermarket candy bars are essentially the same in terms of their relationship to the keto diet: they’re no-no’s. These sugars are simple carbohydrates that, when consumed, hit the bloodstream like a freight train. Your body turns to them immediately for energy, which is exactly the opposite of what keto followers want to happen.
On the ketogenic diet, the goal is to keep your body in a metabolic state known as ketosis. While in this state, the body relies primarily on fat for fuel rather than carbs. Following a ketogenic diet can lead to weight loss, improved cholesterol levels, a reduction of seizures and more. So, ketogenic dieters want to keep their carb consumption--and in turn, their consumption of traditional candy--to a minimum.
If you’re a sugar lover, don’t lose hope yet, though, because sweet treats aren’t completely off the table on the keto diet. In fact, far from it. There are many tasty candies that are made without sugar that will satisfy your candy cravings and control carbs at the same time.
Sugar-free candy is made from alternative sweeteners that are chemically different from the simple sugars mentioned above. Innovative candy makers have gotten pretty good at using these alternative sweeteners to create candy that tastes great without all the unwanted side effects of regular sugar.
The ingredients found in sugar-free candies fall into a couple different categories.
Often billed as low- or no-calorie, these are artificial sweeteners that create a sweet taste without using traditional sugar. You may know these by their common names like stevia, sucralose, saccharin and aspartame, or by brand names like Splenda, Equal, Truvia and Sweet ‘N Low.
The impact of these sugar substitutes on our bodies varies. For example, while stevia and saccharin both have no calories, saccharin has been shown to cause spikes in blood glucose levels while stevia has no noticeable effect on blood glucose.
The other category of sweeteners is sugar alcohols. These sugar-alcohol molecular hybrids have a sweet taste but function more like digestive fiber than carbs. They do, however, still contain calories and have an impact on blood glucose levels, just not as much as traditional sugar.
The exception in the sugar alcohol family is erythritol. Unlike other sugar alcohols, which make their way through your digestive system, erythritol is mostly absorbed into your bloodstream and excreted in urine, which means none of the negative side effects of other sugar alcohols.
And just in case you’re wondering, sugar alcohols don’t actually contain ethanol, the ingredient found in alcoholic beverages that gives them their intoxicating effect.
Before you down a whole bag of candy labeled “sugar free,” take note: not all sugar-free candies are created equal! It’s important to read the label and do your research to understand which of the above sweeteners are responsible for the candy’s sweet taste. Unfortunately, some of them do still contain carbs and thus, aren’t a good option for keto dieters.
One in particular to beware of is maltitol, a type of sugar alcohol. Though frequently used to sweeten candies that are labeled as sugar free, maltitol isn’t a good option for keto dieters because it still creates a blood sugar response, similar to real sugar.
The best sugar-free candies for keto dieters are those sweetened with stevia or erythritol. These sugar alternatives have the lowest glycemic index, which is what keto followers are aiming for to keep their bodies in ketosis.
Also, it’s important to know the difference between total carbs and net carbs. Net carbs is the macro that keto dieters care about.
To get this figure, simply subtract the amount of fiber and/or sugar alcohol in a food item from the amount of total carbs. So, if a serving of candy has 17 grams of total carbs but 14 grams of fiber or sugar alcohols, its net carb count is only three grams, making it a good choice to stay in ketosis.
The exception to this net carb calculation is maltitol, which we touched on above. As we mentioned, this sugar alcohol does create a blood glucose response and thus, can’t be wholly subtracted from the total carb count in a product. Experts tend to have varying recommendations on how exactly to calculate net carbs for products that contain maltitol; generally, your best bet if you want to be sure to stay in ketosis is to avoid it.
Here are 8 of our favorite candies you can eat on the keto diet.
For some foods, it’s easy to find keto-friendly swaps, like cauliflower for mashed potatoes or pork rinds for potato chips. But it seems there’s just nothing that can quite replace the sweet, chewy goodness of gummy bears (or gummy worms, or gummy fish).
Sweetened with stevia, these SmartSweets gummies contain just three grams of sugar per bag. They come in a range of fun flavors like peach and sour blast and even come in different shapes in case you’re partial to a certain type of gummy animal.
These juicy little Stevita Naturals hard candies are our go-to for a quick candy fix. They not only taste like traditional candy, but look and feel like it, from the handy tin container you can throw in your pocket or purse to the crunch when you pop one in your mouth.
They’re sweetened with stevia and isomalt, another sugar substitute that doesn’t affect blood glucose levels. One serving of these fruit-flavored goodies (try the ‘outrageous orange!’) has zero grams of net carbs.
If chocolate is your candy of choice, add these sugar-free bars to your shopping list. ChocoPerfection’s Dark European Chocolate gourmet chocolate bars are sweetened with erythritol and chicory root fiber. Both of these ingredients have a glycemic index of zero, which means they don’t raise blood sugar levels.
These dark chocolate treats contain a whopping 14 grams of fiber and just two grams of net carbs per serving, making them the perfect chocolate candy bar for the keto diet.
Sweetened with isomalt, Double’D Fruit Chews are a dead ringer for Starburst, but keto friendly. They’re made with all natural colors and flavors and are gluten free, too, so you can feel good about treating yourself to a few.
Two of these fruity, tangy chews contain just 35 calories and zero net carbs.
Salty peanut butter meets creamy chocolate in these oh-so-delicious ChocoRite Peanut Butter Cups. They taste so close to the real thing that you won’t even realize they’re low carb and sugar free.
Each packet contains seven grams of fiber and a single gram of net carbs and will set you back just 35 calories, so there’s no need to feel guilty if you can’t resist reaching for a second one.
It seems like everyone had an aunt or grandma who always had a dish full of caramels stocked on the coffee table. These sugar-free caramels from GoLightly will bring back the nostalgia of the old fashioned caramel dish with just a hint of vanilla for an updated twist.
GoLightly is one of the oldest sugar-free confectioners in America, so they’ve mastered the art of making candies that not only taste good but are a great option for low-carb dieters. Their vanilla caramels are sweetened with Splenda and contain zero net carbs.
The Atkins brand name is synonymous with the low-carb diet. If you’re starting to follow a keto diet, you won’t want to miss their full line of low-carb treats from candy bars to salty snacks. This is one of our top picks from the collection.
A thick layer of luscious chocolate surrounds a center of rich, moist coconut in these Atkins Endulge Chocolate Coconut Bars. Each one contains four grams of protein, which is also important for keto dieters, and just two grams of net carbs.
Peppermint can be useful for all sorts of things, from settling an upset stomach to helping you focus. Another thing it’s great for? Staving off candy cravings.
These refreshing mints from Pur are sweetened with xylitol and have zero net carbs. They’re also vegan, non-GMO and made in a nut-free facility. With just three calories per mint, it’s totally acceptable to enjoy a handful and share with friends, too.
There are plenty of excellent keto-friendly products out there, including keto-friendly candy. Left Coast Performance is here to help you find the best keto products that fit your lifestyle and the information you need to make the right diet choices.
All of our products are made from clean ingredients and we never use artificial colors, flavors or fillers. Our direct-to-consumer prices save you money while our 100% money-back guarantee ensures you’ll be fully satisfied with every order. For more information on Left Coast Performance and to shop our products, visit www.leftcoastperformance.com.