Low-carb snacks – the best and the worst
What low-carb snacks are good? There’s a simple rule: The best low-carb snack is no snack.1
That’s right. Snacks are usually not needed on low carb, as the hunger should be reduced when doing it right.2 If you’re still hungry, you may want to add more healthy fat, protein, or fibrous low-carb veggies to your meals.
That said, we know that everyone wants a snack once in a while. So here are some great options, and a few common mistakes to avoid.
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No preparation needed
The numbers are net carbs (total carbs minus fiber carbs) in 100 grams (3.5 ounces.)3 That means that 100 grams of cheese contains 2 grams of net carbs.
Nuts are a low-carb snack favorite. But be careful as the carbs quickly add up, especially if you eat cashews. Choose lower-carb macadamia, Brazil or pecan nuts instead. Low-carb nuts guide
Are you ready to do some preparations for an awesome low-carb snack? Check out our fantastic low-carb snack recipes, like these top choices:
Vegetable sticks and dip
Vegetable sticks are relatively low carb, except for carrots, which have slightly more carbs. Low-carb vegetables guide
Berries and cream
Heavy whipping cream – forget low-fat fake cream. Get real heavy whipping cream, ideally at 40 percent fat and definitely unsweetened (the natural sweetness is quite enough once you get used to it). Whip and have it with your berries. Note however that this is absolutely delicious, and it’s easy to eat a lot of it when not hungry, slowing down weight loss. So try to not overdo it.
Digestible carbs per 100 grams (3½ ounces)
Chocolate is not low carb. However, you can occasionally get away with one or two thin squares of high-cocoa chocolate (70%+) even on a strict low-carb diet. On a more liberal low-carb diet you could do it regularly.
- One small thin square (10 grams or less than half an ounce) of 86 percent chocolate contains about 2 grams of carbs.
- Switch to 70% chocolate and you get about 3.5 grams per square.
- Regular chocolate can be 6 grams of carbs or more per square – not an option if you want to stay low carb.
Beef jerky: Note that almost all available commercial options have added sugar, which is why a normal carb count is 9 grams per 100 grams (3½ ounces). Preferably mostly avoid this, look for brands with no added sugar, or make your own.
Common mistakes on low carb
Caffe Latte: Note that there is a quite a lot of milk in this, and milk is around 5 percent carbs (from lactose, or milk sugar). To keep the carbs low drink black coffee instead, or add (if you need to) a few teaspoons of milk or cream.
Juice and functional waters: Juice and many flavored waters contain a lot of sugar. Preferably avoid them.
Fruit: Fruit is candy from nature and contains plenty of sugar. It’s not nearly as bad as drinking juice, but because it’s high in carbs, fruit will still mostly have to be avoided on a strict low-carb diet. A more liberal diet allows the occasional fruit. Bananas and grapes contain the most sugar of all fruit. Check out the best options in our low-carb fruits guide
Cashew nuts: These contain a lot of carbs (other nuts are a lot lower). Learn more in our low-carb nuts guide
Really terrible options
These options are all bad on a low-carb diet, as they are high in refined carbs and sugars. Avoid whenever possible.
Also be very skeptical of “low-carb” versions of chocolate, cookies etc. They are usually full of sugar alcohols, some of which may raise blood sugar, make it harder to lose weight and maintain sugar cravings.6 Learn more
Instead, choose from the great simple options closer to the top of this page, or check out our awesome low-carb snack recipes below!
21 great low-carb snacks
- Egg muffins. One of the best time-saving breakfasts of all time, hands down, and also a great snack.
- Keto garlic bread. Deliciously crispy on the outside, soft on the inside and only 1 gram of carbs per piece.
- Keto quesadillas. Cook up this Mexican-inspired appetizer ASAP. Decadent. Cheesy. And officially keto! Easy to make, tasty, and pretty enough to make you look like a celebrity chef. Serve them up as is or decked-out with sour cream, guacamole, and salsa. Olé!
- Sesame crispbread. Do you love to sink your teeth into something crunchy every now and then? Then this is for you.
- Cheese chips. Looking for a crunchy chip to snack on or to enjoy with guacamole or dip? This two-ingredient fix will keep you satisfied!
- Onion rings. Make your own low-carb and gluten-free onion rings in the oven – simple and delicious.
- Tortilla pizza. These mouthwatering mini-pizzas are as big on flavor as they are low in carbs. In just a few minutes you’ll be snacking on a gooey pizza loaded with all the lip-smacking stars of this Italian classic.
- Creamy keto shrimp tacos. Why should taco fillings have all the fun? In this recipe, the cheesy taco shells share the starring role with shrimp in a luscious cream sauce.
- Salami and cheese chips. A crunchy low-carb snack that only takes minutes to prepare. Salami and cheese in a delicious combination. Perfection!
- Zucchini chips. Do you miss potato chips on a low-carb diet? Now you don’t have to. You’ll need several zucchinis for a bowl of these chips, but they are truly delicious!
- Low-carb granola bars. A healthier and lower-carb option to all the sugary bars out there. Make your own bars with nuts, seeds, healthy fats and truly dark chocolate.
- Cheese roll-ups. It’s perhaps the fastest, most simple low-carb snack you can make – and it tastes great. Cheese roll-ups are perfect as a low-carb snack that you’ll make in just a few seconds.
- Cheddar cheese and bacon rolls. Cheese and bacon! What’s not to love? This awesome keto snack is easy and quick to make.
- Kale chips. Do you want healthy and tasty green chips with very few carbohydrates? We usually have kale in the holiday season, so we made some and found that they were quite tasty.
- Eggs on the go. Here’s an inspiring way to take your eggs on the road! With so many ways to prepare eggs, this one ups the fun factor, with optional, creative filling choices. Egg-cellent!
- Bacon-wrapped halloumi cheese. These wonderful salty treats can be served as a snack or an appetizer. Serve them on top of your favorite vegetables and leafy greens and you’ll have a delicious and filling salad.
- Baked mini bell peppers. These peppers may be tiny, but their flavor is mighty! Bursting with creamy cheese, chorizo, savory herbs and a pop of chipotle.
- Salad sandwiches. Who says a great sandwich needs bread? These fun keto salad sandwiches are proof that lettuce can work just as well.
- Low-carb cream cheese with herbs. This low-carb cream cheese with herbs is so easy to make!
- Baked cheese. This low-carb baked cheese is salty, tangy and flavorful.
- Caprese snack. A plate is a blank canvas begging for sights and sounds. And this caprese fills the plate with scents, colors, and you provide the sound.
Sweet things – caution recommended
While the sweet recipes below are low carb, they are also very rewarding and tempting.7 They may encourage eating when not hungry, and that can slow your weight loss. So be a bit careful.
However, these low-carb recipes are still likely better for your weight and health than high-carb versions of similar recipes.8
More low-carb guides
Frequent snacking may not be a good idea, especially if you want to lose weight:
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] ↩
Keeping carbs low can help reduce appetite:
Fiber isn’t counted because unlike the digestible portion of carbs, your body can’t absorb it:
Eggs are an excellent source of protein. Although they’re high in cholesterol, eggs don’t seem to raise cholesterol levels much in most people, and they may even reduce some heart disease risk factors:
The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2018: Effect of a high-egg diet on cardiometabolic risk factors in people with type 2 diabetes: the Diabetes and Egg (DIABEGG) Study—randomized weight-loss and follow-up phase [randomized trial; moderate evidence]
Although it’s still somewhat controversial, several recent systematic reviews of randomized trials and large observational studies have failed to show a connection between eating saturated fat and increased heart disease risk:
Maltitol, by far the most common sugar alcohol in low-carb products, has a high glycemic and insulin index, and a large portion is absorbed into the bloodstream:
Gastroentérologie Clinique et Biologique 1991: Clinical tolerance, intestinal absorption, and energy value of four sugar alcohols taken on an empty stomach [randomized trial; moderate evidence] ↩
Research suggests that artificial sweeteners partially activate the “food reward” pathway responsible for cravings: