Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Old Candy Critic Articles - Candy in the low Carb zone.

I've decided to take down several old articles from the and re-post them here on the Candy Critic blog.  This week we look at an old article from Allison where she looks at low carb version of popular bars.

As low-carbohydrate lifestyles gain popularity, there are more and more options for low-carb treats available in the marketplace. I have been on the Atkins plan for about a year now, and even within that time, I’ve noticed that low-carb snacks are getting better and and more plentiful.

A year ago, for treats I could get some muffin mixes, Atkins brand protein bars that were kind of chocolatey, and … well … raspberries and strawberries. Now, I can get chocolate bars, cookies, fudge-sicles, pudding, ice cream sandwiches, and even granola bars! (Not that raspberries and strawberries aren’t great.)

At first, I was pretty skeptical. Could you really enjoy sweet deliciousness without sacrificing your health goals? Yes, there are some downsides to the low-carb treat revolution. Expense is one thing. Even the “Atkins Baking Mix”, a flour substitute, is something like $17 in health food stores for a tin of about 4 cups. I found it once in a grocery store for $3.69. They don’t sell it anymore.
And soy flour? Not for making sweet treats. Trust me – I’ve tried.

After I finished Atkins’ “induction” phase and had been in the “ongoing weight loss” phase for about two months, I decided I needed a treat. Atkins “Advantage” bars were all I could really get then. Those and Ketogenics muffin mixes. (I recommend the chocolate chip.) In my opinion, the Atkins muffin mixes are terrible. “Advantage” bars aren’t so tasty either, but when you haven’t had anything sweet for 2-½ months, you take what you can get.

To sweeten these treats (and the new “Endulge” treats they’ve since released), the Atkins people use something called maltitol. Maltitol is a polyol, or sugar alcohol, which is a kind of hydrogenated carbohydrate used as an artificial sweetener. According to some common sugar alcohols are:
· Mannitol
· Sorbitol (Some cell damage may be related to too much sorbitol in the cells of the eyes and nerves.)
· Xylitol (Good for preventing tooth decay.)
· Maltitol
· Lactitol

Polyols are good in that you can sweeten things without the carbohydrates absorbing into the body and making us all fat (or perhaps marathon runners). But what they don’t tell you is that they can have a laxative effect. Most sources claim that you have to ingest large quantities for this to happen, but my experience is quite different.

I’ve never really been a gassy person, but when I started on Atkins I became a next-to-zero emissions person. But then, when I started eating the things sweetened with polyols, I became a veritable methane factory. As for the laxative effect? If I ate treats two days in a row, things would come out like soft-serve ice cream. Anything more than two days in a row, you’re looking at a slushy. Is it really worth the mediocre sweets? At the time, yes.

Then, in the U.S., Hershey’s, Keebler, and Nabisco SnackWells got in on the game with chocolate bars and cookies. Hershey’s even makes low-carb Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. They taste almost exactly the same as the “real” ones although a little dry, and not at all like the Atkins peanut butter cups, which have a bit of a strange taste in them (but again, OK in a pinch, if you don’t mind the soft-serve ice cream effect). The Hershey’s chocolate bars are about 1/3 the size of their regular ones, but they are delicious. I especially like the one with the little rice crisps, which I dip into chunky (peanut-only) peanut butter.

These treats are sweetened with other names of sweeteners that I don’t recognize, but could also very well be polyols. Hershey’s uses erythritol, and Nabisco uses acesulfame potassium in their SnackWells CarbWell cookies. Sounds terrible, tastes great. Also, less soft-serve ice cream effect, and far less methane production. AND, they’re about as expensive as regular chocolate bars, so less gouging at the cash register.

I hope they decide to bring them to Canada soon.

There are lots of other low-carb treats that I’ve tried, and I recommend experimenting around. Some of them are GeniSoy’s Low Carb Crunch, Breyer’s ice cream sandwiches, Sobey’s store-brand low-carb fudge-sicles, Odyssey “Slim Advantage” chocolate bars, and Atkins granola bars. All of these are available in Canada, and I’m sure most of them in the U.S. as well.

The very best treats I’ve found, though? Those little miniature “real” chocolate bars that weigh about 5 grams each. They can’t possibly have more than 5 grams of carbohydrates since that’s they’re weight, and you get to eat the real thing, provided you can stop at just one. I’ve also been known to enjoy the occasional Timbit doughnut hole at Tim Horton’s. They probably have a few more carbohydrates, but I just make sure I walk to the farthest Tim Horton’s possible and burn it off.

So where am I after almost a year? Looking and feeling healthy and happy, and enjoying some of the treats out there.


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