The words "candy" and "Atkins" aren't often seen in the same sentence. While you can eat candy on Atkins, you can only eat candy low in carbohydrates and in amounts that don't exceed your daily carb allowance. This may not be the best use of your carbs in the long run, but it can help you through the hump if you're craving a piece of candy -- and if you can stop at just one. The Atkins brand does manufacture several types of diet candy, which usually substitute artificial sweeteners or sugar alcohols for sugar.
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Sugar Alcohols in Candy
Sugar alcohols are often used to sweeten diet candy, including hard candies and diet cookies and snacks. The body does not absorb sugar alcohols completely and absorbs them more slowly than sugar, so they have less effect on your blood glucose levels, which may benefit diabetics. Diet candies containing sugar alcohol can have a nasty effect if you eat too much of them: diarrhea and or stomach cramps. Atkins Diet bars and cookies are made with maltitol, a sugar alcohol, and should not be eaten in excess of one serving per day. The carbohydrates from sugar alcohol also raise your blood sugar. Atkins Diet cookies also contain flour, another type of carbohydrate.
Eating Regular Candy
If a regular candy bar has 25 g of carbohydrate and you're allowed 30 g per day, why can't you eat it, you may wonder. The answer lies in the fact that the vegetables you eat also contain carbs, but carbs of better nutritional quality. Skipping good carbs to eat a candy bar plays havoc with your vitamin and mineral intake over time. The Atkins Diet recommends that you get most of your carbs in the form of low-carbohydrate vegetables.
The Atkins Diet limits you to less than 20 g of carbohydrate per day during induction, normally the first two weeks of your diet. This puts you into a fat-burning state known as ketosis and breaks your sweet tooth habit. During induction, you should avoid even diet candies, which will probably raise your carb intake too much. After induction, you increase your carb intake by 5 g per week until you reach a set-point where you no longer lose weight. During this time, you can experiment with eating a small amount of diet candy.
Part of the Atkins diet depends on weaning you away from sugars and sweet-tasting foods. If you eat candy, even artificially sweetened candy, you may awaken the sleeping giant -- your sweet tooth. If you can restrict your intake of sweetened foods to a small serving, diet candy won't hurt you and you won't be alone; sales of diet candy quadrupled between 200 and 2004 alone, according to "The Nibble," a website devoted to specialty foods. However, be aware that you may not be able to stop with just one piece if you're a true carbohydrate addict.