The ketogenic diet has been gaining popularity in recent years as more and more people look for ways to lose weight and improve their health.
Everyone loves sweet treats, and it’s no surprise that many keto dieters wonder if they can still indulge in candy while on a low-carb diet like keto.
What Is Ketosis & The Keto Diet
First, let’s start by understanding what the ketogenic diet is.
It’s a very low-carb, moderate protein, high-fat diet that encourages your body to enter a metabolic state of “ketosis,” meaning it will begin burning fat for energy instead of carbohydrates.
Because the main focus of the keto diet is to consume as few carbs as possible and avoid spiking your blood sugar levels.
Because of this, most people assume that all types of candy—including sugar-free candy—are off-limits.
The good news for all you sweet-toothed candy lovers out there, this isn’t necessarily true!
Can I Eat Sugar-Free Candy On The Ketogenic Diet?
While it’s true that traditional candy usually contains large amounts of added sugars (which are not allowed on the keto diet), some sugar-free candies are lovely to consume while following a keto lifestyle.
For example, many sugar-free candies and lollipops are now made with artificial sweeteners or some sugar substitute.
Some examples are stevia, monk fruit extract, or sugar alcohols like xylitol instead of refined sugars like glucose or sucrose.
These sugar-free candies can be enjoyed in moderation without kicking you out of ketosis or sabotaging your progress.
Remember that even though the best sugar-free candies are low-carb, they are not zero net carbs.
Sugar Alcohols In Sugar-Free Candy
If you’ve been hunting for low-calorie sweeteners, you may have encountered “sugar alcohols.”
What Are Sugar Alcohols?
Sugar alcohols, while they contain the word “sugar,” are pretty different from either sugar or alcohol.
A type of carbohydrate can be derived as a natural sweetener from plants such as seaweed and fruits or synthetically produced in a laboratory.
However they are created, their properties make them appealing to keto dieters looking for a keto-friendly candy alternative to refined sugars.
Sugar Alcohols vs Table Sugar
Sugar alcohols create a much lower impact on blood sugar levels than refined sugar does, making them great for people with diabetes who need to watch their sugar intake closely.
They are also suitable for those on a low-carb diet because, unlike other carbohydrates like glucose or starches, they are incompletely absorbed by the small intestine leading to fewer carbs entering the bloodstream.
In addition, because of its unique chemical structure that does not regularly dissolve in water, bacteria cannot feed on it, providing anti-cavity protection.
Types Of Sugar Alcohols
Common types of sugar alcohols found in sugar-free candy or beverages include:
- high fructose corn syrup
- maltitol syrup
The main benefit of using sugar alcohols is that they have less effect on blood sugar levels than regular table sugar.
This means that people with diabetes may find them an attractive alternative to other sweeteners because they don’t cause as much of a spike in blood sugar levels or carb intake.
In addition, many people find that sugar alcohols also produce less of an increase in tooth decay than regular table sugar, making them a better choice for those who want to protect their teeth from cavities and decay.
Despite the benefits outlined above, some potential drawbacks are associated with consuming too much sugar and alcohol.
Some people can experience gastrointestinal discomfort if they consume large quantities of these sweeteners over time.
In addition, these carbohydrates are not absorbed by the body in the same way as regular sugars and often are not counted as total carbs.
They pass through the digestive system without being broken down, and consuming too much can result in an unpleasant laxative effect if taken in excess.
As such, it is essential to be mindful when consuming these sweeteners and always read labels carefully.
Are Sugar Alcohols Healthy?
While there are certain benefits associated with using sugar alcohols as a low-calorie sweetener option, it is essential to be mindful when consuming them so that you don’t experience any unwanted side effects from taking too much at once.
You might want to read food labels carefully and understand how your body reacts when consuming different carbohydrates, including sugar alcohol.
Then, you can ensure you get all the benefits without having any unpleasant experiences along the way.
What To Look For In Sugar-Free Candies?
If you are looking for sugar-free candies that do not sacrifice flavor, check the label for artificial sweeteners.
These types of modern keto-friendly candy use carefully calibrated combinations of sugar substitutes such as sugar alcohols, polyols, and other low-calorie substitutes to capture much of the same sweetness you get from sugar without the calories.
However, be aware that some artificial sweeteners may have undesirable side effects in specific individuals, and be sure to research more if you are concerned about them.
Furthermore, it is also essential to look out for natural sugars and soluble fiber additives as these can help with digestion and may even provide extra health benefits.
Lastly, although much lower in the glycemic index than regular sugar, sugar-free candy isn’t calorie-free and will still increase your blood glucose levels and add to your net carb count.
Be sure you check the labels carefully and monitor your intake of total carbs so that you don’t exceed your daily carbohydrate intake and get kicked out of ketosis.
Other Keto-Friendly Desserts
Sugar-free gummies and keto-friendly chocolate not enough for your sweet tooth? No worries. Many other keto foods with a sweet taste won’t significantly impact blood sugar or add too much to your net carb count.
- Natural Peanut Butter
Natural peanut butter is an excellent choice for people following a keto diet.
Not only does it contain healthy fats, complex carbohydrates, and protein, but it also provides numerous essential vitamins and minerals.
It contains little to no added sugar or unhealthy trans fats that can increase cholesterol levels, making it the perfect choice for low-carb and keto lifestyles.
The healthy fats in organic peanut butter can help increase satiety levels, reducing cravings for unhealthy snacks and making it easier to stick with your diet plan.
2. Keto-Friendly Ice Cream
Switching to a ketogenic diet doesn’t mean you have to give up your favorite summertime treat.
Regular ice cream is full of added sugars and carbohydrates that don’t fit in with the keto diet, but there are now plenty of low-carb delicious flavors for those looking for something a little lighter.
Keto-friendly ice cream uses natural sweeteners like xylitol, stevia, or monk fruit extract to provide the same creamy texture and rich taste without any adverse side effects associated with consuming too much sugar.
These low-carb alternatives contain fewer calories and carbs than traditional ice creams, and they also often have more beneficial health properties thanks to their natural ingredients, like fruit juice.
If you want to take your nutrition a step further, you can always opt for keto-friendly ice creams that are also gluten-free!
3. Keto-Friendly Dark Chocolate
Chocolate lovers rejoice! Another low-carb candy often considered keto-friendly is dark chocolate bars with 70% cacao content or higher.
Dark Chocolate vs Milk Chocolate
Regarding nutrition, dark chocolate, and milk chocolate are both high in calories and fat.
However, dark chocolate typically contains more cocoa solids than its counterpart.
This means it has a higher percentage of cocoa butter and less sugar, so it usually contains more saturated fat than milk chocolate.
Dark chocolate also contains more antioxidants than milk chocolate because of its higher concentration of cocoa solids.
On the other hand, milk chocolate tends to contain more added sugar than dark chocolate does.
This makes it less ideal for those following a ketogenic diet, as carbohydrates are strictly limited in this eating plan.
The good news is that many manufacturers now offer low-carb alternatives that allow you to enjoy the taste of milk chocolate without all the added sugar.
Dark chocolate is probably your best bet if you’re looking for a snack that won’t derail your keto progress.
It has fewer carbohydrates per serving than milk chocolate and provides additional health benefits due to its higher concentration of cocoa solids.
Additionally, many brands now offer low-sugar versions of their regular products, so even if you opt for milk chocolate; you can still enjoy the sweet taste without all the sugar.
However, if you want something sweeter or lighter in texture, plenty of low-carb alternatives are available nowadays, allowing you to enjoy delicious treats without guilt!
Final Thoughts On Keto-Friendly Sugar-Free Candies
Whether or not you should eat sugar-free candy on the keto diet depends mainly on what type of candy we’re talking about here.
Traditional sugary treats like gummy bears and jelly beans should be avoided due to their high carb content. Still, certain brands offer sugar-free versions made with natural sweeteners such as stevia or monk fruit extract, which can be consumed in moderation without compromising your progress.
So if you’re looking for a way to satisfy your sweet tooth while following a keto diet, try these keto-friendly, sugar-free options.
You might not be able to get calorie-free desserts, but tons of keto candy options around won’t kick your body out of ketosis.
I’m Chris Watson & the Founder of EatForLonger.com. I’m a food and wellbeing enthusiast researching and sharing foodstuffs and simple food-based concepts, such as fasting and clean eating.
I hope it inspires you to make tiny changes to what you eat and when you eat while optimizing your healthspan and all-around well-being.
Read more About Me here.