Before testing the Smart Sweets Gummy Bears, we heard mixed reviews. Gluten-free with only 3 grams of sugar per bag, they are a yummy, beloved brand for those who have kicked sugar both in and out of the ketogenic community. However, those that test their ketone levels on a keto diet have been calling fraud on these being “keto friendly.” So, over here at Keto-Mojo, we knew it was time to put this gummy candy to the test!
Smart Sweets is run by a young woman named Tara Bosch who was fed up with all the additional sugar in our everyday foods and snacks. She set out to create a gummy with NO added sugar that she could share with anyone with a sweet tooth. Smarts Sweets has no sugar added, is sugar alcohol free, peanut and tree nut free, GMO free, dairy/soy/lactose free, and has no artificial flavors or colors. That is all great, but does that translate to a keto friendly product?
SOUR GUMMY BEARS: Prebiotic soluble fiber from tapioca, chicory root fiber, unflavored gelatin powder, lactic acid, citric acid, rice flour, malic acid, fumaric acid, fruit and vegetable juice (for color), natural fruit flavor, coconut oil, stevia leaf extract, carnauba wax.
FRUITY GUMMY BEARS: Prebiotic soluble fiber from tapioca, gelatin, chicory root fiber, citric acid, malic acid, fruit and vegetable juice (for color), natural fruit flavor, coconut oil, stevia leaf extract, carnauba wax.
Looking solely at the ingredients, the first thing that stands out as truly not keto-friendly is the rice flour (in the sour gummies only). Rice is a high-carb food and, as such, those on the ketogenic diet avoid it. However, you may notice that this ingredient is in many “keto” or “low carb” prepackaged foods. In this case, the gummies are not being marketed as low carb or keto. Yet those in our community have seen that the gummies have a low net carb amount for a candy, specifically gummies. Does this mean you can’t have them due to the rice flour? The answer isn’t quite that cut and dry.
The answer we want to give is, yes, you can have these keto gummy bears… in moderation. If you have read our previous article on reading nutritional labels, you’ll remember reading that ingredients are listed from highest concentration in the product to lowest. In the case of these sour gummies, rice flour comes in sixth out of 13 ingredients. So in moderation, the sour gummies can be keto friendly (keep on reading though, because we put them to the test!). When it comes to the fruity low-carb gummies, there is nothing in the ingredients list that sticks out as non keto-friendly.
You may be thinking, “didn’t’ I see something on Instagram/YouTube/Facebook about soluble fiber being turned into sugar when it was digested?” Or, “Doesn’t it cause me to crave sweets?” Well, folks we are sorry to burst that bubble, but we are going to address this with some citations.
Harvard School of Public Health discusses fiber by saying that, “Fiber is the type of carbohydrate that the body can’t digest. Though most carbohydrates are broken down into sugar molecules, fiber cannot be broken down into sugar molecules, and instead it passes through the body undigested. Fiber helps regulate the body’s use of sugars, helping to keep hunger and blood sugar in check” (Fiber, 2018). From this brief statement, one can safely assume that we don’t have to worry about soluble fiber being broken down and converted into glucose. And while we won’t get too deep into the science here in our review, you bet there is a follow-up piece coming on fiber!
So in conclusion, the sour gummies are a maybe when it comes to ingredients (in moderation) and the fruity gummies have no ingredients that would have us concerned.
Based upon the nutritional facts alone, consuming the entire package of gummy bears would not be keto friendly. There are 5g of net carbs in this one bag. Most on the ketogenic diet restrict their carbohydrate intake to 20g of net carbs or less. With this single bag being ¼ of your daily allotment, that would be a poor use of your carbohydrates which would be better served by foods with more micronutrients and good fats. That aside, it does not mean that these gummies are not keto-friendly… just that the serving size may not be. We would suggest, instead, splitting the bag into two to three servings. This would lower the net carbs to just 2.5 gramsof carbs each for two servings or 1.7 grams of carbs for one of three servings. The bag is large enough to split the servings and still feel like you have a satisfying treat (although that can be somewhat subjective!)
These gummies taste delicious, with our favorite being the sour gummies! They have the gummy consistency that you are used to and love in the high carb equivalent. This was one area where we were very pleasantly surprised.
Having tried to make keto homemade gummy bears at home (complete with droppers and gummy bear molds) and failing multiple occasions in regards to texture and consistency, we must give Tara credit here for sure! The granular sour mixture on the sour gummies reminded us very much of a sour patch (although less sour). We would amp up the sour just a bit!
EFFECTS ON KETOSIS
We decided to try eating a full bag, half a bag, and one-third of a bag on different days to test how each serving size affected our level of ketosis. We were pleasantly surprised to find that our hypothesis on the effect of serving size seemed to playout. But keep in mind that this was a study of one, and each of you could have a different response.
Based on the ketone levels tracked in this experiment, we would suggest being cautious with the sour gummies. While we did stay in ketosis, our levels did take a substantial hit and didn’t fully recover by the 2 hour mark as we normally prefer to see. With the fruity gummies, we took a hit to our ketones levels as expected with most foods, and with the smaller servings we were able to get very close back up to our starting levels at the 2-hour mark. We would say that, if you are going to eat the Smart Sweets gummies, you would be better off with the fruity ones and sticking to ½ to ⅓ a bag. As with all snacks on keto or any diet, eat them in moderation.
Above: Blood Ketone levels tracked
In conclusion, Smart Sweets fruit gummies (available on Amazon) are a tasty treat that can be eaten in moderation. With the sour gummies, you may want to proceed with caution and limit your serving size to one-third of a bag. Disclaimer: As always, when introducing a new prepackaged food it is best to err on the side of caution and TEST your blood glucose and ketones pre and postprandially (before and after eating the snack) to ensure that this snack does not affect YOU and your progress negatively. This is the case even with sugar-free gummy bears because alternative sweeteners, including swerve, erythritol, and beyond, can adversely affect ketosis in some people on a keto diet. Every body is different. It’s always good to test.