Indulgent, rich and creamy – chocolate is possibly the ultimate treat.But what if you’re on a ketogenic diet? Can you still get your chocolate fix – or must you learn to live without it?
Is it OK to eat chocolate on keto?
You’ll be pleased to hear that some chocolate is permissible on a keto diet.
However, before you reach for the selection box there are a couple of things to bear in mind.
What chocolate can I eat on keto?To ensure you retain your body’s state of ketosis, (the metabolic state during which you burn fat as fuel rather than glucose), 1 it’s important to choose a chocolate which is low in sugar and carbohydrates.
This is difficult for obvious reasons – most chocolate gets its taste from sugar and milk.Milk is high in lactose, a milk sugar which causes your blood sugar to rise you the body to leave its state of ketosis. 2
Remember, when the blood sugar rises, the body no longer looks to fat as its preferred energy source. This is because a more ready source of energy – blood glucose – becomes available for the body to burn.
Is dark chocolate keto friendly?
With some caveats, you can eat dark chocolate on keto. Compared to milk chocolate, dark chocolate is higher in cocoa solids. Cocoa solids, also known as cocoa mass, are made from a blend of cocoa powder and cocoa butter (fat extracted from cocoa beans). 3
Cocoa solids are high in fat but low sugar and contain few carbohydrates – making it suitable for a keto diet plan.Milk chocolate, on the other and, only contains around 25% cocoa solids. The rest of the bulk of milk chocolate is made up of milk solids and sugar. Milk solids are essentially dried milk bound together with a small amount of fat. 4
Milk solids contain sugar and carbohydrates in the form of lactose, meaning a milk chocolate bar of around 20% milk solids will be too high in carbohydrate to fit into a ketogenic diet.Remember, you’re allowed 5% carbs, 20% protein and 75% fat on the standard ketogenic diet. 5 This means that for an average diet of 2000 calories per day, you should only eat around 25g carbohydrates.
Bear in mind that a standard 28g portion of dark chocolate - that’s only 4 squares - contains around 12.5g carbohydrates. Therefore, if you do indulge in a portion of dark chocolate you need to ensure you don’t eat too many carbohydrates throughout the rest of the day to keep your keto ratios in balance.Eaten sparingly, dark chocolate generally has the blessing of nutritionists due to its vitamin and mineral content. It’s also rich in catechins, plant compounds usually associated with green tea which offer impressive health benefits including protection against cardiovascular diseases. 6
What's the lowest carb chocolate?
The lowest carb chocolate is one which is made from 100% cocoa solids. These bars usually contain only around 8% carbohydrates, meaning a 28g portion comes in at under 2g carbohydrates.
This leaves you with a budget of around 23g carbohydrates still to eat during the day if you’re to keep to the 5% carbs rule of most keto diets.
It’s worth bearing in mind that chocolate made from 100% cocoa solids can be an acquired taste as they’re quite bitter.
A good quality dark chocolate with at least 70% cocoa solids is still keto-friendly and may be more palatable for beginners.
Our favourite keto-friendly chocolate
There are many types of keto chocolate available. Here are some of our favourites.
This bar utilises the sweetener maltitol as well as cocoa butter to deliver a rich, creamy chocolate experience. With 1.8g net carbs per 30g serving, it’s keto-friendly and contains no added sugar.
If you’re already a fan of minimum 70% cocoa solids chocolate (which is suitable on keto), it’s time to try this. Made with 93% cocoa, 7% pure cocoa nibs & a hint of orange oil, this 100% cocoa solids bar is powerful in flavour.
With under 2g carbohydrates per 28g serving, this bar can be enjoyed in moderation on a keto diet.
Made from 100% cocoa powder, this hot chocolate is low in carbs (around 3.7g per 30g teaspoon) with virtually no sugar.
As with all 100% cocoa products, it can be a little strong on its own. We advise whipping this cocoa powder up with a sweetener such as stevia and a little coconut milk to create a creamy, sweet drink that’s suitable for your keto lifestyle.
This low sugar, low carb milkshake still manages to taste rich and chocolatey despite being both keto and vegan.
With 3.7g carbs per bottle and containing coconut milk, medium-chain triglycerides (a form of plant fat) and sweetener stevia to mimic the mouthfeel of milk and sugar, this is a good bet when you’re craving chocolate on keto.
Our Nutritionist says…“Keto-friendly chocolate is low in sugar and carbohydrates. This means it fits into most keto diets, while making it a great way for anyone to reduce their sugar intake whilst still being able to enjoy sweet treats. Keeping refined/ free sugar intake to a minimum is important for a wide variety of health reasons. However, it’s important to over-eat these types of products, as not only can this blow your keto plan, it can lead to digestive upset from the sugar substitutes they contain.”
– Alexander Thompson, NutritionistShop Food & Drink
Last updated: 6th January 2021
Author: Donia Hilal, Nutritionist
Donia started her career as a freelance nutritionist, later she joined Nestle as their Market Nutritionist to help support their healthier product range, before joining the team at Holland & Barrett in January 2018. Donia has 6 years experience as a Nutritionist and also works with clients on a one to one basis to support their goals which include weight loss, prenatal and postnatal nutrition and children’s health.Donia has a special interest in; weight management, plant-based nutrition, pregnancy nutrition, special diets and disease risk reduction. Donia's LinkedIn profile
- Ketosis - What is Ketosis, Effects of Ketosis and Ketosis Levels (diabetes.co.uk)
- Cocoa Solids: What They Are and Why They Matter (chocolateexpert.co.uk)
- Homepage - IDFA
- Green Tea Catechins and Cardiovascular Health: An Update (nih.gov)