One of the benefits of a keto or low-carb diet is that it can help you feel more satisfied with your meals, so you might find yourself snacking less. However, snacks are always important to have on hand—especially for those with hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar.
When you find yourself feeling peckish, reach for one of these keto-approved, low-carb snacks that can satisfy any craving in a healthier way.
What makes a snack low-carb & keto-friendly?
The answer to "what makes a snack low-carb?" really depends on your total daily carb intake, and how many grams of carbs you allocate to snacks.
If you are simply keeping an eye on your carbohydrate intake, you may not be restricting to this level, but the advice to stick to whole foods and not go crazy on the snacks still applies. A low-carb diet offers many similar benefits to a ketogenic diet, the major difference being that the latter puts you in a state of nutritional ketosis.
How do I choose the best low-carb or keto snacks?
A lot of packaged "low-carb" or "keto" foods contain hidden ingredients that turn out to be not-so-healthy after all. With this in mind, it's best to opt for whole-food-based snacks, especially if you're following a keto or lazy keto diet.
Here's a list of whole and healthy low-carb, high-protein options to get you started:
Salty low-carb snacks:
Boiled eggs are an excellent snack, packed with protein and nutrients. Plus, they're convenient! Add boiled eggs to your weekly meal prep to make grabbing a snack super simple.
- 1 egg contains 1g of net carbs and 6 to 7g of protein.
For a low-carb but nutrient-rich snack, slice up an avocado, sprinkle with salt and pepper, or scoop it right out of the skin.
- 1 avocado contains 2g net carbs and 3g of protein.
Some low-carb, high-protein nut options include macadamia nuts, pecans, walnuts, almonds, pili nuts, and more. Just remember that nuts are very easy to over-consume, so be mindful of your snacking.
If you're unsure about the carb content of your nut du jour, here's a quick reference. Quantities below equate to around 1-ounce (or 28-gram) servings.
- 15 pecan halves contains 4g carbs and 2.6g protein
- 10-12 macadamia nuts contains 3.8g carbs and 2.2g protein
- 12-14 walnut halves contains 3.9g carbs and 4.3g protein
- 23 almonds contains 6g carbs and 6g protein
- 15 pili nuts contains 1g carbs and 3g protein
Sardines have a relatively mild fish flavor, but they're packed with health benefits (not to mention sustainably sourced protein).
- A 3.2-ounce tin contains 0g carbs, 22.7g protein.
Almond flour crackers and cheese
You can purchase some fantastic low-carb crackers nowadays, but if you want to be in control of the ingredients, try out this flavor-packed recipe.
- 8 crackers contain 8g carbs and 3g protein.
- 1 ounce of cheese contains 0g carbs and 7g protein.
Veggies dipped in guacamole
Making guacamole is a great way to enjoy your avocados, and vegetables like carrots or peppers make for a lower-carb scooping option than classic tortilla chips.
- 2 tablespoons guacamole contains 2.3g carbs and 0.5g protein.
Low-carb snack board
The contents of this one will, of course, vary depending on what you add, but you should aim for under 10 grams of carbs if you're keto. Leave the dried fruits off and load up on the meats and cheeses, which have essentially no carbohydrates.
Sweet low-carb snacks:
Full-fat yogurt with berries
This combo is a quick and easy way to satisfy a sweet tooth and stay full until your next meal.
- Whole milk plain Greek yogurt contains 5g and 16g protein.
- ¼ cup of blueberries contains 5g and under 1g protein.
Chia puddings are a great snack loaded with fiber and some protein. You can get creative with your puddings by adding some nuts and seeds, sugar-free chocolate chips, a few berries, or shredded coconut.
Here's a quick chia pudding recipe: Mix 2 tablespoons chia seeds, 2 tablespoons full-fat coconut milk (or any milk of choice! Just make sure it's unsweetened), 2 to 3 tablespoons water (or just more milk), a dash of vanilla extract, and a non-glycemic sweetener of your choice, like monk fruit or allulose.
- 1 serving contains around 8g carbs and 4g protein.
If you have some ripe avocados on hand, avocado pudding is quick to whip up. Take a whole avocado, add around ⅓ cup full-fat coconut milk, 2 tablespoon cocoa powder, a dash of vanilla extract, and sea salt.
- This recipe above should make 2 servings, and each serving will contain 10g carbs and 5.5g protein.
Unsweetened toasted coconut chips
Toasted coconut chips are a delicious snack that you can take with you on the go. Just make sure that if you're buying these packaged, there's no added sugar.
- 1 serving (~28g) contains 4g carbs and 1g protein.
Protein ice cream
Getting the perfect consistency for your protein ice cream may take some trial and error. Note that the following recipe will only turn out creamy and fluffy if you use whey protein:
Simply blend around 1 cup ice, ¼ cup full-fat coconut milk (or again, your unsweetened milk of choice), 1 scoop of whey protein, a pinch of sea salt, and non-glycemic sweetener of choice (optional). Blending takes patience because the ratio of ice to liquid is higher than a typical ice cream, but if you keep at it and get it blending, it will turn into a delicious, creamy ice cream.
- 1 serving contains around 3g carbs and 24g protein.
Make-ahead low-carb snacks:
Fat bombs are typically any combination of nut butters, coconut oil, and unsweetened chocolate. As the name suggests, fat bombs are virtually all fat if we're talking macronutrients. If you want to make them a bit more satiating, add a scoop of protein into the mix.
You can make endless variations of the classic quick keto fat bomb, like this mint chocolate chip recipe.
- 1 serving contains ~2g carbs and 5g protein
A slightly fancier version of boiled eggs, egg bites are a tasty and nutritious snack. Prepare the following recipe at the beginning of the week and your future self will thank you for it!
Whisk together 6 eggs, ¼ cup milk of choice, salt, pepper, chopped veg (e.g., spinach, broccoli, onions). Optional add-ins: chopped bacon, sausage, shredded cheese. Bake in a lined or greased muffin pan at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 to 18 minutes until edges are browned. Cool, store in fridge, and enjoy!
- Depending on the veggies you add, the carbohydrates will vary but shouldn't be more than ~1g per bite, with about 4g of protein.
Low-carb bread can be eaten on its own, topped with butter, or toasted up with some smashed avocado as a hearty snack.
To make the bread, all you need is 3 eggs, 1 cup nut butter, 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar, and 1 teaspoon baking soda. This is the base, but you can get creative and add things like protein powder, sweeteners, or cocoa powder, among various other ingredients. Mix the apple cider vinegar and baking soda in a bowl and let it fizz up before adding the remaining ingredients and mix well. Add the mix to a lined or greased bread pan and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 25 to 30 minutes.
- 1 slice of bread has around 5g of carbs and 4.5g of protein.
Muffins are on the keto menu and make for a great snack when prepared in advance. Check out these 12 sweet and savory keto muffin recipes that will satisfy all your cravings and tide you over between meals.
- Each recipe will have a different carbohydrate and protein content but will provide less than 10g of carbs and around 5g of protein per muffin, depending on the ingredients.
Chicken or egg or tuna salad in lettuce cups
This is another super-easy recipe that can be made ahead of time. All you need is either 8 boiled eggs, 2½ cups shredded chicken, or 2 tins of tuna to mix with ½ cup of avocado oil mayonnaise (or homemade mayonnaise), 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard, fresh dill, fresh parsley, chives or green onions, salt, and pepper. Optional add-ins: chopped celery, chopped dill pickles, chopped jalapeño pepper, hot sauce. Eat it straight out of the bowl or scoop into lettuce boats.
- A serving of ½ cup will contain around 2g carbs and 8g protein.
Low-carb snacks to buy:
Again, you'll want to avoid highly processed snacks in favor of ones with whole-food ingredients to keep carbs down. Registered dietitian L.J. Amaral, M.S., R.D., CSO, recommends on-the-go snacks like chia seed puddings, seaweed snacks, and protein bars, for example.
Kale chips are a fun and yummy way to snack without overdoing it on the carbs. Many kale chips are low-carb, but always read the ingredients and nutrition label to make sure there are no added sugars.
Low-carb protein bars
This is a tricky one, because not all bars labeled "keto" are blood-sugar-friendly. That said, there are a lot of great keto products out there. Some sweeteners to avoid (due to their blood sugar responses) are isomalto-oligosaccharide (IMOs), maltitol, and other names for sugar like dextrose and maltodextrin. Some keto-friendly sweeteners are allulose, stevia, monk fruit, erythritol, and xylitol.
Who knew cheese could make delicious chips? Cheese crisps are essentially baked, crispy cheese bites that can be found in most shops these days. They typically don't contain any strange hidden ingredients and make for an easy low-carb or keto snack on the go.
Meat bars are a solid real-food snack. Many companies now sell dried meat snacks made with simple ingredient lists. Not only are these low-carb, but they also provide a good amount of protein.
Keto packaged treats
There are some great keto "treats" out there, like cookies that are higher in fat and lower in carbs. Stick to those made with only a few ingredients, flours like almond flour and coconut flour, and sweeteners like erythritol, monk fruit, and allulose.
Mix up your favorite protein powder (sugar-free, of course) with some water or milk of choice for a simple shake that's high in protein and low in carbs. Keep in mind that a whey protein shake with nothing else in it might not actually be keto, as whey can trigger the release of insulin and slow down ketone production.
If you are concerned about this, add your protein to milk with a higher fat content, or blend it into a smoothie with some fiber and fat (like the one below).
Low-(or no-) fruit smoothie
Who said you need fruit to make a delicious smoothie? Steamed then frozen cauliflower is a great sub for frozen fruit to give your smoothies a thick texture. But you can always add a handful of frozen berries, too, to keep it low-carb. Here's a keto-approved matcha-mint smoothie recipe to try.
Hot beverage with MCTs
Depending on what time of day it is, you can satisfy your snack craving with a hot cup of joe or matcha tea blended with some MCT powder or oil (1 to 2 tablespoons). MCTs are rapidly converted to ketones. If it's too late for coffee, add 1 to 2 tablespoons cocoa powder, stevia to taste, and sea salt to boiling water and blend this with MCTs.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is popcorn OK on keto?
A handful or two of popcorn is not going to sabotage your low-carb or keto diet; however, if we are going to place popcorn in one macronutrient category, it's carbs. So, be mindful of how much you eat. Otherwise, stay away from popcorn altogether if you're trying to stick to a ketogenic diet. One cup of popcorn has about 6g of carbohydrates.
What are easy keto snacks for work?
Easy low-carb snacks to take with you to work include boiled eggs, meat bars/sticks, nuts, and make-ahead muffins or egg bites.
When choosing a snack, it's helpful to stick with foods that will keep you fuller for longer. That way, you won't be tempted to overindulge on unhealthy treats. Any of the low-carb, high-protein options on this list are keto-approved and endlessly customizable to hold you over until your next meal.
Kristi Storoschuk is a PhD student in the Muscle Physiology Lab at Queen's University in Ontario, Canada where she is studying the effects of fasted exercise on metabolic flexibility and blood sugar control. Outside her research Kristi works in science communication with a focus on ketogenic diets, exercise, and metabolic health. When she's not writing and researching, you'll find her in her gym doing CrossFit, traveling the world, or in the kitchen cooking healthy eats.