Some things can be really hard to give up, which is likely why keto newbies often ask, “Can I have chocolate on the keto diet?” And the answer is that it really depends.
Let’s start with the bad news: if you love the sweet, creamy flavor and texture of milk chocolate, you’re out of luck. (But keep reading for a secret tip to keep it keto-friendly!)
The good news: if you like the super-dark, bitter stuff or pure cocoa, you’re in luck! These types of chocolate have a place in the keto diet and can help keep you on track when a craving hits!
What Is the Keto Diet?
High-fat and protein-rich foods are the staples of the keto diet plan. For beginners, it can be a little bit difficult to navigate, because let’s face it: people don’t typically devote too much time to tracking the macronutrient makeup of their food.
The point of the keto diet, for most, is to promote weight loss.
It works by minimizing carbohydrate intake—daily intake is usually in the 30 to 50 grams-per-day range—and, instead, relying on fat and protein as primary calorie sources. The absence of carbohydrates forces the body’s metabolism to switch up its energy source and draw on fat (in the form of ketones) to provide energy.
So as long as you’re not consuming too many calories, a keto diet can be an effective tool for weight loss.
One of the challenges can be finding keto recipes to use as alternatives—especially when it comes to sweets and desserts. But fear not! Keto desserts, particularly those featuring chocolate, are easy to include in your new diet.
You might be surprised that you can have your keto chocolate cake and eat it, too.
Can Chocolate Be Eaten on the Keto Diet?
Chocolate comes from cocoa beans, which are dried and fermented seeds from cocoa trees (Theobroma cacao). The beans are then made into liquids, pastes, or blocks. In raw or relatively unprocessed form, cocoa and dark chocolate are good sources of antioxidants, much like blueberries or acai berries.
However, not all chocolate is created equal. The more processing and dilution cocoa undergoes, the less nutritious and keto-friendly it becomes.
Put simply, raw cocoa, baking cocoa, and certain kinds of dark chocolate can be used for your keto-chocolate cheesecake, but the milk chocolate’s got to go.
Unfortunately, it’s the sweet milk chocolate that people most often crave, not the bitter dark chocolate that’s good for keto. If you’re craving sweetness, it’s better to binge on berries.
Even when it comes to dark chocolate, there is variability. To keep it keto, you’ll want to stick to at least 80% cocoa, while 99% to 100% cocoa is even better.
To give you an idea of how calories and carbohydrates break down among these varieties, let’s take a look at some of the offerings by the popular chocolate manufacturer, Lindt:
Swiss Milk Classic Bar (milk chocolate): A 30 g serving has 160 calories and 18 g of carbohydrates (17 g are added sugar).
Excellence Cacao 85%: A 30 g serving has 170 calories and 11 grams of carbohydrate (4 g added sugar).
Excellence Cacao 90%: A 30 g serving has 180 calories and 9 grams of carbohydrate (2 g sugar).
Excellence Cacao 99%: 50 g serving has 270 calories and 4 grams of carbohydrate, (1 g sugar).
Milk chocolate doesn’t fit into a keto diet because the cocoa is heavily diluted through the addition of milk, cream, and sugar.
How to Use Chocolate on the Keto Diet
The biggest adjustment you’ll have to make to use chocolate on a keto diet is flavor association. Chocolate won’t be sweet while doing keto; the keto chocolate chips in your keto cookie recipe will, instead, add a hint of bitterness.
Are there keto-friendly ways to maintain an element of sweetness and provide the satisfying sensation of chocolate? There are—if you can practice some self-control.
For example, artificial sweeteners and sweetening alcohols (liquid sweeteners) are often added to chocolate keto desserts. Recipes featuring these products make it very hard for dieters to control portion sizes, which is not good if weight loss is the goal!
Research has indicated artificial sweeteners can lead to overeating and insatiability and also promote unhealthy populations of gut bacteria. So if you’re looking to use chocolate for its sweetness while on a keto diet, using it sparingly is recommended. The addition of artificial sweeteners at high levels may leave you worse off!
One secret tip that’s useful on a keto diet is using chocolate-flavored whey protein. Yes, it is sweetened with artificial sweeteners and alcohols while failing to offer any of the nutritional benefits of cocoa, but it has the sweet, creamy taste of milk chocolate to satisfy a craving with virtually no carbohydrates.
You can easily add a tablespoon of raw cocoa or a handful of berries to your shake to improve its antioxidant profile!
If you’re wondering whether the chocolate you’d like to use is keto-friendly, you’re going to have to read labels and note the carbohydrate content. As mentioned, you should be okay with 80 percent to 85-plus percent cacao and raw cacao. There are also a variety of keto-friendly chocolate-flavored products available at health food stores.
3 Delicious Chocolate Keto Dessert Recipes
1. Keto Chocolate Pudding
With chocolate whey protein, you can make a super-quick and simple keto chocolate pudding to satisfy a craving.
Serves: 1 Time: 3 minutes
1 scoop chocolate whey protein
¼ cup water or coconut milk or unsweetened almond milk (your choice)
Nuts, nut butter, coconut oil (optional)
- Scoop protein into a bowl.
- Add a quarter cup of liquid and stir. Add more, if needed, to reach desired consistency.
- Stir in nut butter or coconut oil, or add nuts and/or berries.
2. Keto Fat Bombs
This keto fat bomb recipe is almost as easy as the pudding and is great for a quick, keto-friendly dessert or snack.
Serves: 5 Time: 10 minutes
¼ cup cacao or cocoa powder
½ cup nut butter or coconut butter
¼ cup melted coconut oil
Powdered sweetener to taste, or 1 tbsp liquid sweetener
- In a medium-sized bowl, whisk the ingredients together until smooth. Add some additional coconut oil if the blend is too dry.
- Pour mixture into a candy mold or ice cube tray.
- Freeze to set.
3. Keto Chocolate Cake
See, you can have your cake and eat it, too! As long as you have about an hour…
This recipe does have 17 g of carbohydrates, so you’ll have to budget it carefully into your day.
Serves: 8 large slices Time: 1 hour
1 cup coconut flour
1 cup raw cacao powder
1 tsp coarse sea salt
1 tsp baking powder
3 squirts liquid chocolate stevia
½ cup full-fat coconut milk
½ cup raw cacao powder
2 squirts liquid chocolate stevia
1/8 tsp salt
3 ripe Hass avocados, pitted and peeled
¼ cup melted coconut oil
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Combine the dry ingredients and mix well.
- Combine the wet ingredients and mix well.
- Mix wet and dry mixtures together (you many need a hand blender).
- Grease a 9×13-inch baking pan and add batter.
- Bake for 35 to 40 minutes. Check doneness with toothpick.
- While the cake is baking, place all the frosting ingredients in a blender/food processor and mix until whipped. Refrigerate until ready to top cake.
- Let the cake cool and add frosting.
Chocolate on the Keto Diet: A Matter of Taste and Creativity
Does chocolate fit into a keto diet? In its true, raw form—or close to it—it does. But the creamy chocolate most people love does not.
There are chocolate-flavored keto-friendly products available, but don’t kid yourself into thinking they are real chocolate or health products! Many are laced with artificial sweeteners, and those that aren’t will taste more like cacao than your favorite chocolate bar.
Use these products sparingly, if you do at all. Opt for the cacao, cocoa, or dark, dark chocolate instead.
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“Our brands,” Lindt, 2019; https://www.lindt.ca/en/shop/, last accessed March 5, 2019.
Jockers, “Keto Chocolate Cake” Dr. Jockers, https://drjockers.com/keto-chocolate-cake/, last accessed March 6, 2019.
Katie, “Fat Bombs,” Chocolate Covered Katie, July 23, 2018; https://chocolatecoveredkatie.com/2018/07/23/fat-bombs-recipe-keto/, last accessed March 6, 2019.
American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, “Artificial sweeteners have toxic effects on gut microbes,” ScienceDaily, October 1, 2018; https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/10/181001101932.htm, last accessed March 6, 2019.
Yang, Q., “Gain weight by ‘going diet?’ Artificial sweeteners and the neurobiology of sugar cravings,” Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine, June 2010, PMID: 20589192; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2892765/, last accessed March 6, 2019.