Keto snacks – the best and the worst
Are you hungry on your keto diet, but your next meal is hours away? A keto snack may be the answer. Snacks can buy you some time, allowing you to delay meals to fit your busy schedule.
Snacking shouldn’t happen every day, though. In fact, ideally, you shouldn’t feel the need to snack at all.1 A major benefit of keto is that it often prevents hunger for hours after meals.2 If you regularly need to snack, try adding more fat and protein to your meals.3
Easy keto whole foods
The numbers below the snacks are the percent of digestible carbohydrates, or net carbs.5 For example, 100 grams of avocado (3.5 ounces) contains 2 grams of net carbs.
A slice of cheese, a few olives, some fatty cold cuts, or a few slices of bacon make excellent keto snacks.
Or choose a small portion of nuts that are very low in carbs, like macadamia nuts, pecans or Brazil nuts (be careful of cashews.)
Keto snack recipes
Cook up some keto snacks at home so you’ll have tasty choices easily on hand. Below are six popular options, with net carbs per serving shown in the green circle.
Keto veggies and dip
Dip: What goes great with veggies? Cream cheese, sour cream or a savory high-fat dipping sauce. Here are a few popular options:
Keto berries and cream
Heavy whipping cream: For a decadent treat, put a dollop of whipped heavy cream on top of your berries, without adding any sugar or sweeteners.10 Let the natural flavors shine through.
Be careful, though — berries with cream are so delicious that you may end up eating more than you need, which could stall weight loss.
Here are a couple of keto berry recipes to try:
Net carbs per 100 grams (3.5 ounces).
Other keto snacks
Pork rinds: Also called cracklings, chicharrones, or pork crisps, these are a great zero-carb treat when you want something salty and crunchy.12 Artisanal pork rinds — increasingly being made by keto entrepreneurs — are superior in taste to the commercial packaged product.
Beef jerky: Reading the nutrition label can help you choose the best option, as many commercial brands contain sugar and other additives. Although most have at least 9 grams of net carbs per 100 grams, a few are fairly low carb. Many people make their own.
Biltong: A South African dried, spiced meat usually made of beef, venison or ostrich. It typically has no sugar and is just meat marinated in salt, spices, and vinegar for a number of days, then dried. You can make it at home.
Milk coffees: Cafe lattes and cappuccinos have lots of carbs from lactose (milk sugar.) A 16-oz (470-ml) latte has 18 grams of carbs; when made with skim milk, it has 19 grams. Drink coffee black or with a little milk or cream. Or for a higher-fat option, try one of our hot keto drinks.
Juice, regular sports drinks and vitamin waters: Full of sugar. Do not drink.13
Fruit: Nature’s candy.14 While berries are fine from time to time, avoid other higher-carb fruits. For instance, one small banana has 20 grams of carbs — an entire day’s worth on a keto diet.
For the best options, see our keto fruits guide.
Cashews: The high-carb nut. Choose macadamias, pecans or other lower-carb nuts from our keto nuts guide.
Common snack foods like chips, nachos, donuts, candy and chocolate bars aren’t a good choice for your health or your waistline.15 Do not eat them on a keto diet.
A word of warning: be wary of “keto” or “low-carb” versions of cakes, cookies, chocolate bars, candies, ice cream and other sweets. They might maintain cravings for a sugary taste, and can make you eat more than you need.
Even more keto snack options
Sometimes you just want a little something to delay lunch or dinner. Consider a quick combination:
- Slice of cheese with celery, cucumber, radish, or wrapped in lettuce
- Celery filled with cream cheese, natural peanut butter, brie or other soft cheese
- Slice of cheese spread with butter and rolled up
- Cucumber or lettuce spread with mayo
- Parmesan crisps spread with butter
- Slice of salami and cheese, rolled up together
- Slice of bacon spread with peanut butter
- Spoonful of butter, ghee, or coconut oil melted into coffee or tea
More keto recipes
Looking for something crunchy and tasty to serve friends who are coming over? Our many recipes for delicious keto snacks will give you lots of choices. Even friends who aren’t keto will want the recipe.
Packaged keto snacks on the go
Maybe you’re traveling. (If so, check out our guide to low-carb travel.) Maybe you need something in your desk for those nights when you’re stuck at the office. Maybe you’re carpooling to soccer practice when you should be eating dinner.
Whatever the reason, you need shelf-stable, keto-friendly food.
Here is a list of packaged snack options that are keto-ish. Check the macros to see if they suit your personal regimen.
We’ve included links to some of these snacks solely for your convenience. Diet Doctor will not benefit from your purchases.18
- Olive snack packs: green, black, or a variety pack.
- Epic Meat bars: chicken sriracha and pulled pork.
- Cooked bacon
- Salami bites
- Coconut chips
- Parmesan crisps
- Pork rinds
- Macadamia nuts (or pecans or Brazil nuts)
- Pili nuts (the world’s lowest-carb nut)
- Really dark chocolate (85% or more)
So whether you snack on our oven-baked brie cheese at home or a bag of pork rinds in the car, keep it keto and reinforce your healthy choices for a healthy lifestyle.
Finally, sometimes the best snack is a bite or two of yesterday’s dinner. With that in mind, for even more inspiration, please see all of our keto recipes.
Want more? Living keto goes beyond recipes. Enjoy our selection of guides to help you understand keto and keep it deliciously simple.
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There’s a lack of solid evidence that snacking or eating more than three times a day has any health benefits, and it may be counterproductive for weight loss or metabolic issues:
Diabetologia 2014: Eating two larger meals a day (breakfast and lunch) is more effective than six smaller meals in a reduced-energy regimen for patients with type 2 diabetes: a randomised crossover study [moderate evidence]
Keto diets often reduce feelings of hunger:
Eating enough protein might sometimes be even more satisfying than fat:
The evidence to date suggests there’s no reason to fear natural saturated fats, including dairy fat in cheese:
Net carbs = total carbs minus fiber ↩
We hesitate slightly to recommend commercial mayo. The reason is that most brands are highly processed and made with high omega-6 oils (like soybean, safflower, sunflower, or cottonseed oils). Learn more ↩
Do you worry about saturated fats or cholesterol in eggs? While still a bit controversial, repeated modern systematic reviews find no benefit to avoiding saturated fats or replacing them with unsaturated fats:
Here’s a study investigating if eating eggs for breakfast every day has any negative effects on cholesterol levels. They found none, and the egg-eating group reported greater satiety:
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2015: The effect of a high-egg diet on cardiovascular risk factors in people with type 2 diabetes: the Diabetes and Egg (DIABEGG) study-a 3-mo randomized controlled trial [moderate evidence] ↩
Vegetables are generally considered very healthy, possibly because of the vitamins and minerals they contain. However, the belief in the potential healthiness of eating vegetables is mainly based on weak observational data, so it’s hard to know for sure:
British Medical Journal 2014: Fruit and vegetable consumption and mortality from all causes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer: systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies [weak evidence for a modest positive effect of eating vegetables on heart health and longevity]↩
We define a keto diet as having less than 20 grams of carbs per day.
The fewer carbs, the more effective it appears to be for reaching ketosis, losing weight or reversing type 2 diabetes.
This is mainly based on the consistent experience of experienced practitioners, and stories from people trying different levels of carb restriction [weak evidence].
As of yet, aren’t any RCTs that have actually tested two low-carb diets of varying strictness head-to-head. But RCTs of strict low-carb diets appear to generally show better results, compared to RCTs of less strict low-carb diets.
Even zero-calorie sweeteners may have some negative effects, including maintaining a preference for sweet tastes and increased food reward, potentially increasing the risk of overeating and even food addiction. This is mainly based on clinical experience [weak evidence].
There is also one RCT study showing weight loss from avoiding artificial sweeteners:
The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2015: Effects on weight loss in adults of replacing diet beverages with water during a hypoenergetic diet: a randomized, 24-wk clinical trial [moderate evidence]
For more, check out our guide to keto sweeteners or have a look at these further references:
International Journal of Obesity 2017: Effects of aspartame-, monk fruit-, stevia- and sucrose-sweetened beverages on postprandial glucose, insulin and energy intake [randomized trial; moderate evidence]
Too much chocolate is likely to take you over 20 grams of carbs per day, the typical limit on a keto diet. Whether you need to stay below this limit is of course up to you. ↩
Like other salty, crunchy snacks (such as nuts) they are very rewarding to eat, and thus easy to overeat, which may slow down weight loss. Enjoy, but be aware of this. ↩
Zero-sugar sports drinks and vitamin waters may be OK to consume, but read the label to check the carb count. ↩
Research shows that whether people go on a low-carb or a low-fat diet, they tend to lose weight as long as they minimize sugar and refined flours in their diet:
Here are more studies and overview articles showing a connection between sugar, excess weight and disease:
The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2007: Potential role of sugar (fructose) in the epidemic of hypertension, obesity and the metabolic syndrome, diabetes, kidney disease, and cardiovascular disease [overview article]
The following RCT showed reduced cravings in low-carb eaters compared to low-fat eaters.Obesity 2011: Change in food cravings, food preferences, and appetite during a low-carbohydrate and low-fat diet [randomized trial; moderate evidence]
This is most likely caused by avoiding the foods that can cause food addiction, most of which are processed foods full of sugar and/or other refined carbohydrates.
Just like with any other addiction, avoiding the cause is a necessary part of slowly reducing the addiction. A person who is addicted to alcohol normally can’t consume alcohol “in moderation” and be successful. The same thing is likely true for any addiction. [clinical experience, weak evidence]
In the case of the keto diet, it may also be that the hunger-reducing effect can be helpful: