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One of the more difficult adjustments when starting a low carb or keto lifestyle is finding low carb snacks. If you are accustomed to grabbing commercial granola bars, chips, and candy bars, these are not fit into your low carb lifestyle. So what to use instead?
It is probably best not to snack for most of us, but realistically, there are times when you want something, so choose wisely.
Beware of Keto Marketing
Before choosing your options for low carb snacks, be aware that real food, prepared at home, is the best way to go.
When I started a low carb way of life in 2015, I was adopting this way of eating to help control my Type 2 Diabetes, not necessary to lose weight. There were only a few commercial options available at that time. I think maybe that was a good thing.
Now that keto diets are becoming more popular with the general public for weight loss, many commercial products are marketed as being “keto-friendly”. That doesn’t mean these products are the best choices.
This one is a perfect example. I didn’t even bother looking at the ingredient list. If one serving is 20 grams of carbs how does that fit with a Keto diet which is generally recognized to be 20 grams of carbs TOTAL for the day???
If you’re following a low carb or keto diet for diabetes control, many of these commercial products contain different forms of sugar that you should stay away from. If you’re serious about following a low carb diet for diabetes, these ingredients aren’t ideal.
There are many different versions of keto diets. Many of them rely on a net carb calculation. Net carbs are different than total carbs. When manufacturers create commercially processed products and call them keto, what they’re frequently doing is adding additional fiber. They subtract that fiber from the actual carbs to arrive at a net carb number. This calculation makes their product look like it is lower in carbs.
So, what are the options? Real food rather than commercially processed items are still your best choice. And learning to read labels is essential if you want to stay on track with choosing low-carb snacks and not being fooled by marketing.
Real Food Low Carb Snack Suggestions
Here are several suggestions for very low carb snacks that also have decent nutritional value:
A Variety of Nuts are Great Low Carb Snacks
Pecans, almonds, pistachios, walnuts, macadamia nuts, and more. Cashews are great too, but they are higher in carbs and should only be consumed in very small quantities. Eaten in small amounts, they are quite nutritious and satisfying. Make sure you are purchasing raw nuts or lightly salted and roasted nuts. Anything with flavoring or sugar added to them it’s going to be too high in carbs.
Choose only tree nuts. Peanuts are not a nut, and they’re too high in carbs for our purposes. Do make sure did you weigh and measure your nuts. It is easy to eat too many of them.
Seeds of All Varieties Also Make Great Low Carb Snacks
Anything from sunflower seeds to pumpkin seeds are staples to keep on hand at all times. Just watch out for added carbs from flavorings or different preparation processes. Plain roasted with our without salt is preferred.
Celery with Fillings
Celery with almond butter is a great choice. I like to keep celery precut in a bowl of water in the refrigerator. When you have it prepared, it is as easy to grab as a bag of chips or candy bar. Eating celery with almond butter is more filling and provides additional fat and protein. Do not use peanut butter as it is too high in carbs.
Pickles are another great choice. Choose only dill pickles or pickles with no sweetener added. These will often satisfy a craving for something salty or crunchy.
Cheese crisps are another great option. I do buy these commercially made. They are 100% cheese with nothing else added. You can also make your own, but I do prefer the commercial ones as they are crunchier.
Miniature Cheese Balls
Cream cheese mixed with bacon bits and cheddar cheese. This mixture is simple and easy to make. It makes a tasty filling for celery sticks or dip for other vegetables.
Making Miniature Cheese Balls is super easy and doesn’t even require a full recipe! Just a few ingredients to mix up.
- 3 ounces of bacon, chopped small, precooked and cooled.
- 8 ounces of softened cream cheese
- 2 – 3 ounces of finely shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- Seasoning of your choice, if desired, but not necessary
Mix everything together until completely blended. Form into small portions with a cookie or portion scoop. Top with or roll in additional cheddar cheese. Put in refrigerator to chill for about 1 hour before serving.
Can also be used as a filling for celery sticks or warm up and use as a dip with cheese crisps, pork rinds, or other low carb raw vegetables.
A traditional deviled egg recipe, as long as it doesn’t use sweeteners of any kind or other high carb ingredients, is fine.
Hard-boiled Eggs Are Another Option for Great Low Carb Snacks
Hard-boiled eggs are a traditional favorite. Eggs are very suitable for a low carb or keto diet. If you have an Instant Pot, they are also super easy to make. Prepare ahead and store them in your refrigerator so there an easy grab and go item.
Raw vegetables make great low carb snacks. Do be aware of the carb count of the vegetables you choose. In general, above-ground true vegetables are reasonable in their amount of carbohydrates and they are good sources of so many nutrients. When choosing low carb snacks, avoid tomatoes, peas and anything that grows underground as they tend to be higher in carbs.
Cauliflower, broccoli, pepper strips, and celery are all perfect choices. Also, consider raw brussel sprouts. They are available seasonally and are great as a snack in thin slices and also work well to add to salad mixes.
Bacon Wrapped Vegetables
Bacon-wrapped anything will satisfy a desire for something salty and crunchy. Think bacon-wrapped asparagus and other raw vegetables. Just wrap your bacon around your chosen item. Set them on a baking sheet. Turn the ends of the bacon downward and broil until the bacon is done.
Cheese has been one of my favorites while eating a low-carb diet. All varieties of real cheese are great to have on hand. It contains fat, protein, and little or no carbs. Appropriate cheese does not include processed cheeses, process cheese spreads, or American cheese. If you have questions, check the labels. Real cheese has few carbs.
Avocados are perfect low carb snacks too. Whether sliced or mashed or mixed in with a bit of salsa, it is always refreshing. Serve with cheese crisps, raw veggies, added to a salad or all by itself.
Olives of all varieties make great low carb snacks. Just watch out for any potential added ingredients that may be higher in carbs.
Pork rinds offer the option of something crunchy and salty when you are really looking for potato chips. Do be aware of added ingredients and carbs that may be added in special flavors. Avoid those.
Egg salad is another favorite that will fit in a low carb or keto diet. As long as you use traditional mayonnaise rather than sugar filled salad dressings, most traditional recipes will meet low carb recommendations. Serve it with cheese crisps, pork rinds or raw vegetables.
Sliced deli meats make great additions to your list of low carb snacks. I frequently make roll-ups with sliced turkey, lettuce, and the cheese call mixture listed above. Another option is sliced deli meat rolled with lettuce, cheese, and mayonnaise.
Are Low Carb Snacks Necessary?
Not at all. In fact snacking is not recommended in most cases, so when you do feel the need to snack, make the best choices possible.
If you search for other ideas for low carb snacks, you will find many items that I do not list here. The reason is that there are different thoughts on what foods are and are not appropriate for different variations of the keto and low carb diet.
What I include here are only items that are suitable for a very low carb diet. I do not personally use carrots or peanut butter. I occasionally eat a few thin slices of apple. Tomatoes and cottage cheese are very limited. These are my personal choices after lots of testing and tracking my blood glucose reaction to various food.
Other than potential nut allergies (which I do have), the snacks suggested here should provide solid options for low carb snacks.
Do keep in mind that most low carb and keto diets discourage the use of snacks if at all possible. These snack suggestions are only for the times when you think you need something before your next meal.