If you’re trying to lose weight, you probably avoid the candy aisle at all costs. But sometimes, you just need a taste of your favorite candy bar – or maybe more than a taste. You don’t want to blow it and watch all your hard work go to waste or your waistline. No need to fret. Most diets allow for a few discretionary calories, especially if you're active. Enjoying a candy bar occasionally can be part of just about any diet if you choose wisely and in moderation.
Nuts or No Nuts
According to the 2010 journal Nutrients, eating nuts is good for your heart, may reduce your risk for cancer, improves blood pressure and may even help with weight loss. Nuts contain healthy unsaturated fats, protein, fiber, minerals and antioxidants. Candy bars with nuts might be slightly more nutritious; however, most candy bars don’t contain enough nuts to make that much of a difference, and the other ingredients such as fat and sugar nullify any health benefits. If you want the health benefits of nuts with a little chocolate flavor, try cocoa-flavored nuts.
Nougat, Caramel or Cookie Center
Candy bars with all nougat centers have slightly fewer calories gram for gram than candy bars with caramel or cookie centers; however, candy bars are sold in different sizes so if you read the label you’ll see that total calories are about the same. The inside of your candy bar isn’t as important as the size. Read the labels to help you choose the candy bar with the least number of calories and remember to cut back on other foods throughout the day to stay within your calorie allotment.
Snack Size or King Size
Obviously snack size candy bars won’t sabotage your weight loss efforts nearly as much as a king size version. Most snack or fun size candy bars contain less than 100 calories compared to close to 500 in most king size. If you’re really craving something sweet and chocolaty, enjoy a snack size of your favorite candy bar as a treat and don’t feel guilty about it. If you can’t find a snack size, cut a regular size into two or three pieces and enjoy it over a few days. Avoid the king size candy bars unless you’re going to share it with your entire family or a group of friends.
Milk or Dark Chocolate
According to a study published in 2012 in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine, participants who ate chocolate at least twice weekly had lower BMIs, or body mass index – a measurement of weight compared to height. The University of Michigan considers dark chocolate a healing food and recommends that you eat 1 ounce daily. One ounce of dark chocolate contains close to 160 calories so watch your portions. Chocolate contains antioxidants and minerals such as calcium, potassium and magnesium. Dark chocolate may reduce LDL, or "bad" cholesterol, blood pressure and the risk of blood clots. It may increase blood flow to your heart, improve your brain function as you age and puts you in a better mood by raising serotonin and endorphins. Choose chocolate that contains at least 60 percent cocoa for the most benefit.
- Nutrients: Health Benefits of Nut Consumption
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference
- Snickers: Nutritional Information
- Archives of Internal Medicine: Association Between More Frequent Chocolate Consumption and Lower Body Mass Index
- University of Michigan Health System: Healing Foods Pyramid