Top low carb keto friendly chocolate bars (UK)
A common question I hear is “Can I have chocolate on a keto diet?”. The answer somewhat surprisingly is yes! However, most chocolate bars sold in UK stores are not keto-friendly. In order to get your chocolate fix it needs to meet a few simple requirements which this article will outline for you.
Types of chocolate
There are three main varieties of chocolate sold in the UK – dark, milk and white. The main difference between them is the proportion of cocoa ingredients used.
The most popular option, and as the name suggests it uses milk. Per EU regulations it contains at least 25% cocoa solids. It’s sweet and has a creamy taste.
Keto-friendly? No, it contains too much-added sugar.
The sweetest of the three options. It doesn’t actually contain cocoa solids and instead only uses cocoa butter, sugar and milk.
Keto-friendly? No, it’s basically just sugar!
Sometimes marketed as plain chocolate. People tend to either love it or hate it. It’s cocoa solid content can range from 70% all the way to 100%. The higher the percentage the richer (and more bitter) the flavour.
Keto-friendly? Yes, but only if the bar meets a few keto-friendly requirements. See the following section.
How to choose keto-friendly chocolate
As we just found out dark chocolate is somewhat keto-friendly. However, not all dark chocolate sold in UK stores is keto compliant. Most brands still add sugar and other additives so that their chocolate is more palatable for the masses. Dark chocolate without any additives has an intense and bitter flavour. Which the vast majority of people don’t like. With that in mind, what should you look out for in a chocolate bar?
Minimum cocoa solid content
Generally, the lower the cocoa solid content, the more sugar it contains. When looking for keto-friendly chocolate in UK stores. Try and aim for one with at least 90% cocoa solid content.
Note – however, if sweetener is used instead of sugar, then a lower solid content may be OK. More on that below.
Sugar vs Sweetener
Some brands have started to use sweetener instead of sugar in chocolate. Depending on the type used it may reduce the overall carb count and make it suitable for keto. Even some milk chocolate can be deemed keto-friendly.
The most common sweetener used is Maltitol. Mainly because it behaves like sugar in baking and is about 90% as sweet. However, it’s generally accepted that it’s not OK on keto as it still spikes the blood sugar and can cause gastrointestinal symptoms. You can read more about (and other sweeteners) in my sugar-free sweets article.
There are brands that use a mixture of one or more keto-friendly sweeteners like:
- Monk fruit extract
Chocolate bars made with any of the keto-friendly sweeteners above may be OK on keto. However, it’s common for manufacturers to blend some sweeteners with other additives. If the ingredients label lists any of the below, then they are not keto-friendly.
These additives have a high glycaemic index which can spike your blood sugar and kick you out of ketosis. They should be avoided on the keto diet.
Total carb count
If you’ve been on keto for a while, it should be second nature to check the total carbohydrates per 100g. It’s one of the quickest and easiest ways to see if chocolate (and most other things) are keto-friendly.
Generally, I look for chocolate that is under 15g of carbs per 100g. As dark chocolate is so rich you’ll probably only have around 25g per serving.
Note about polyols – if the amount of polyols are listed under carbohydrates, then you can subtract that from the total carb count. This is because your body doesn’t digest sugar alcohols.
In conclusion, in order for a chocolate bar sold in UK stores to be keto-friendly, it needs to satisfy the below criteria:
- Contain no bulking agents – maltodextrin, dextrose.
- Contain no high GI sweeteners – sugar, maple syrup, agave syrups, honey, coconut sugar, xylitol, sorbitol, maltitol, high fructose corn syrup.
- Less than 15g total carbohydrates per 100g – remember to subtract polyols from total carbs.
- Either contains 90% cocoa solids or uses sweeteners – aim for dark chocolate that has as few ingredients as possible.
Best dark chocolate bars
Dark chocolate that has a high cocoa solid content (90%+), can be quite expensive. If you find a brand that you like, it could be a good idea to check online and see if it’s cheaper to buy in bulk.
Lindt Excellence 90% Cocoa
Available at: Amazon and most UK food stores
Size: 100g bar
Nutrition per 100g:
- Energy: 592 kcal
- Fat: 55g
- Carbohydrate: 14g
- Protein: 10g
- Salt: 0.03g
Offers: Commonly on offer at 2 for Â£3 in most supermarkets (Asda, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Morrisons)
Montezuma 100% Cocoa Absolute Black
Size: 100g bar (other sizes available)
Nutrition per 100g:
- Energy: 601 kcal
- Fat: 54g
- Carbohydrate: 8g
- Protein: 12g
- Salt: 0.02g
Note: Extremely rich and a small piece is normally enough.