What can you snack on when you are on a low-carb diet? Certainly not the stuff other people usually eat – like pastries, fruit or sweets. Don’t despair though – there are many low-carb snack options available, you just need to get used to them.
Below are some ideas for different situations, for example, when you are out and about, or when at home but don’t have time to cook. Net carbs counts are included.
Low-carb snacks you can buy ready from most supermarkets
The best options are nuts with higher fat content: macadamia, Brazil nuts, walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts and almonds. Net carb content is around 2-5g net carbs per 50g (1.8oz). Stay away from cashews and chestnuts, as they are much higher in carbs.
Many supermarkets do mini-cheese portions, of 30-60g (1-2oz). In the UK, Cheesetrings and Babybels come to mind. Any hard cheese makes a good low-carb snack. Net carbs would be less than 1g net carbs for this serving size.
100g (3.5oz) of green or black olives will only set you back about 3-4g net carbs.
Celery is not the most exciting vegetable, but it is crunchy in a rather satisfying way. You can jazz it up a bit with a blue cheese or sour cream dip (check carb counts on those, obviously). Less than 2g net carbs per 100g / 3.5oz.
5. Full-fat yoghurt, plain or Greek
A 200g (7oz) pot of full-fat yoghurt usually has around 6-7g net carbs. Beware its sneaky low-fat brothers though – they are likely to be laden with sugar! Always check the labels carefully.
6. Cherry tomatoes
These lovely bite-size tomatoes go really well with cheese, plain yoghurt or sour cream. 5g net carbs per 100g / 3.5oz.
Berries stand in for fruit on a low-carb diet. The best ones are blackberries, strawberries and raspberries, at around 5-6g net carbs per 100g / 3.5oz. See this post for some low-carb recipe ideas with berries…
8. Cold meats
Choose sliced whole meats such as ham or turkey breast, rather than processed unidentified concoctions. Carb count should be below 1g per 100g / 3.5oz. My favourite choices are prosciutto and Wiltshire cured ham.
Many shops now sell prawns in small snack-size packs, often with a dip. Net carbs in prawns are negligible, but check the info for the dip if there is one.
10. Pepperoni sticks
Most shops sell small pepperoni sticks as individual snacks. I am including this last as they are highly-processed and generally a bit nasty. However, there should be hardly any carbs in them (0-1g total per 1 stick). So if you are stuck in a small petrol station shop, where the only other choices are sweets and crisps, you might have to resort to this. (But when you do have a choice, always go for whole foods over processed foods).
Low-carb snacks from specialist shops
If you plan in advance, you can find some less common low-carb snack options online and in specialist shops. Make a stash at home so that you always have something suitably low-carb to munch on.
Biltong is a South African dried meat snack. Unlike jerky, Biltong marinade contains very little sugar. Depending on the brand, net carbs count should be between 0-3g net carbs per pack.
12. Pork scratchings
13. Sugar-free protein shakes
Protein shakes without added sugar are a great way to snack. You can jazz them up with unsweetened cocoa powder, crushed berries, cream and sweetener. They can be as tasty and satisfying as a sugary milk shake – but are oh so much better for you! Carb count depends on the brand, but should usually be 1-3g per 100g.
14. Sugar-free chocolate
Yes – you can have chocolate on a low-carb diet! It’s the sugar that you should beware, not the cocoa. For example, Cavalier Belgian dark chocolate has only 4g net carbs per 40g bar.
You can also get sugar-free low-carb candy bars, for example, Atkins Advantage range.
I know this might sound a bit odd, but seaweed is actually a “superfood”, packed with vitamins and nutrients. It is available salted and dried from many Asian grocers, and has a lovely crispy texture. The taste is unusual, but nice once you get used to it. Carb count is usually under 5g net carbs per packet. Most varieties are sugar-free, unless they are specifically branded as sweetened – that’s quite rare, but check just in case.
Low-carb snacks you can make at home quickly
16. Boiled eggs
Eggs are a perfect easy snack, with around 0.5g net carbs per egg. You can jazz them up with full-fat mayo or sour cream, or try this recipe for devilled eggs.
Avocado is low in carbs (4-8g net carbs per 1 avocado, depending on size and variety) and high in fat, so makes a very satisfying snack. Mash it up with a bit of salt and pepper, or make it into a dessert by adding sweetener and cocoa powder instead (yes, seriously!).
Tuna is the darling of bodybuilders for its high protein content, and like any whole fish, it has zero carbs. I usually get tins of tuna in olive oil, as that tastes much better than versions in water or brine. Have a look at this post with 15 ways to dress up a tin of tuna.
19. Peanut butter
Sometimes, a couple of spoonfuls of unsweetened peanut butter is all you need to get you through the afternoon. Two big tablespoons would set you back about 2g net carbs. Add some sweetener like Truvia or liquid sucralose to make it into a sudden instant dessert!
20. Cottage cheese
Another great favourite of bodybuilders and athletes, also suitable for all low-carbers at 5g net carbs per 100g / 3.5oz. As with yoghurts, don’t let the low-fat versions distract you – always go for full-fat natural option.
Low-carb snacks to bake in advance
Here’s a quick round-up of recipes for biscuits and other snacks, using low-carb gluten-free flours and sweeteners.
21. Flax crackers
Check out this great recipe for rosemary and sea salt flax crackers by Mellissa Sevigny at I Breathe I Am Hungry blog – only 2g net carbs PER BATCH of crackers. Perfect substitute for anything you might have had with bread before, but with hardly any carbs!
22. Low-carb cheese straws
This low-carb cheese straws recipe is one of mine – it also uses flax, and also almond flour and lots of cheddar cheese. 0.2g net carbs per straw!
23. Cheddar crisps
If you can make crisps (that’s chips if you are in USA) out of potatoes, then why not out of cheese? Here’s a Spicy Cheddar Chips recipe from the great low-carb recipe guru Carolyn Ketchum, at All Day I Dream About Food blog. Zero carbs!
24. Biscuits (cookies if you are American)
If you are craving for a sweet snack instead of savoury, it is possible to make low-carb biscuits. Here are some of my recipes: amaretti almond biscuits (0.5g net carbs per biscuit), flourless chocolate biscuits (under 1g net carbs per biscuit), peanut butter cookies (1.8g net carbs per cookie).
25. Chocolate brownies
Talking of biscuits, why not try brownies too? Yes, they are also low-carb, with 2.5g net carbs per brownie.
Low-carb snacks to make when you have time to cook
26. Aubergine (eggplant) fries
Have a look at this very elegant aubergine fries recipe from Gourmand in the Kitchen blog – turning those aubergines into something very special. Estimated net carbs count – around 3g net carbs per serving.
27. Aubergine “pizza”
Make a “pizza” slice using aubergine as the base, recipe from Drizzle and Dip blog! Estimated 3g net carbs per slice.
28. Cauliflower tater tots
“Tater tots” made with cauliflower and parmesan instead of potatoes – 6g net carbs per serving. Great recipe from Lowcarb-ology blog.
29. Broccoli bites
Similar idea to the previous one, but starring broccoli instead of cauliflower. Cheesy broccoli bites recipe with almond flour, via Food Renegade blog. Estimated 4-6g net carbs per serving.
30. Courgette (zucchini) chips
Talking of crisps again, courgettes can also play for a potato! Baked zucchini chips recipe from Vittles and Bits blog. This would be about 3g net carbs per 100g (3.5oz).
For more low-carb snack ideas and recipes, please check out:
UPDATE – Further tips from Google+
Some further advice from our Google+ community:
- Goat milk yoghurt – from Emmanuel Losier
- Pickled herring, smoked oysters or mussels – from Colleen Rogers