It has been estimated that 160 million Americans struggle with being overweight or obese. With 60 to 75% of adult men and women in the United States of America suffering from an unhealthy Body Mass Index (BMI), it is no wonder that many people are turning to a healthy diet and active lifestyle to help reduce their risk of chronic diseases including heart disease, diabetes, sleep apnea, and even cancer. A healthy, well-balanced snack can help keep blood sugars even, reduce severity of sugar cravings, and help people stick to smaller food portions at meal meals.
However, traditional snacks like chips, cookies, pastries, and other processed foods are often chock-full of unhealthy sodium, trans-fats, added sugars, and preservatives. If you are trying to lose weight or just want to maintain a healthy diet and body fat percentage, then consider the following low carb snacks as alternatives to the junk food.
FAQ On Low Carb Snacks
1. What Are Carbs?
Carbs, or carbohydrates, are a macronutrient just like fat and protein. Carbs are unique in that they have the largest and most direct impact on your blood sugar levels. Foods that naturally contain carbs include fruit, dairy, starchy vegetables, and foods made from grains.
2. Is Snacking Considered Healthy?
Snacking can certainly be a part of a healthy eating pattern. Healthy snacks help regulate blood sugar and appetite between meals. However, the quality of the snacks you choose is an important factor to consider.
3. Where Can You Buy Low Carb Snacks?
Low carb snacks are available everywhere, you just need to know what to look for. With more and more people turning to healthier snack alternatives, low carb snacks can now be found at grocery stores, convenience stores, and some restaurants.
How We Reviewed
The top 10 low carb snacks to maintain weight loss are compared below. Each low carb snack idea was evaluated based on nutritional content, including calorie and macronutrient (carbohydrate, fat, and protein) content, and convenience.
Overall Price Range of This Product (and Similar Products)
Many people make claims about how eating a healthier diet is more expensive. In fact, research has shown that following a healthier diet pattern can cost a person, roughly, an additional affordable price per day. This adds up to an extra a bit higher price each year. However, it is important to consider the costs savings that may result from healthy snacking. For example, people who choose low carb snack options might require fewer visits to a doctors office, fewer medications, and less medical equipment due to the improvements in health that healthy snacking and a healthy weight can lead to. Consider it an investment in your health if you will.
If you are on a tight food budget, keep in mind it may be more cost effective to purchase conventionally raised foods rather than the more pricey organic options. It also helps cut costs to shop for fresh fruits and vegetables when they are in season. Last, consider drinking tap water when possible. This free hydrating beverage is much cheaper and healthier than purchasing drinks such as energy drinks, blended coffee beverages, or soda pop, which are all loaded with sugar in the form of high fructose corn syrup.
What We Reviewed
1. Hard Boiled Eggs
Many people shy away from eggs due to fear that the yolk contains cholesterol. However, new research has shown that the naturally occurring dietary cholesterol found in foods like boiled eggs are not likely to negatively impact your blood cholesterol levels. In fact, these low carb snacks are a much more heart healthy alternative when compared with snacks high in refined sugar, known to raise triglycerides and LDL ("bad") cholesterol. Boiled eggs are also relatively low in calories, providing just 78 calories per egg, while providing a full 6 grams of protein.
They are convenient in that you can prepare a large batch of boiled eggs at one time to grab and go for future needs; however, peeling the shell off the egg can sometimes be difficult. Also, it is best to keep them chilled, so is it a requirement that you will have access to a refrigerator or at least an insulated lunch bag that contains an ice pack.
One boiled egg contains approximately 0.6 grams of carbohydrate
2. Peanut Butter and Celery
The combination of peanut butter with celery was included in the list of heart healthy low carb snacks due to the high fiber content of celery and healthy unsaturated fat content of peanuts. However, it is important to search for a peanut butter that does not contain trans-fats, as this man-made fat is especially bad for heart health and cholesterol levels. To help determine whether the peanut butter has trans-fat in it, look at the ingredients label for the term "hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils".
You will want to steer clear of these peanut butter brands. You can also compare the nutrition facts label to find a peanut butter brand that does not have any added sugars. Although nuts and nut butters are very nutritious, it is important to consider that they are also relatively high in calories. Two tablespoons of peanut butter will provide around 188 calories, and 8 grams of protein, depending on the brand and ingredients. Most peanut butter is okay to be left at room temperature, making this a convenient option for low carb snacks that do not require refrigeration.
If you were to eat a serving size of four, 4 inch celery stalks mixed with 2 tablespoons of peanut butter, this would provide around 7 grams of carbs.
3. Guacamole with Baby Carrots
Similar to nuts, avocado is also considered a heart healthy fat known as an unsaturated fat. It is also a great source of fiber, which, when combined with the also high fiber baby carrots, can help keep you feeling full and satisfied until your next full meal. Guacamole can be prepared from scratch using just a few ingredients: avocado, diced tomato, red onions, and spices. Or, it can also be conveniently purchased pre-made and in smaller, snack-sized portions.
The homemade version of guacamole may be a lower sodium alternative when compared to other, store bought low carb snacks, as you will have full control over how much salt is used during the preparation process. This wholesome fat and fiber combo will provide around 110 calories if you keep your portion of guacamole to around 2 tablespoons. Although low in protein when compared to other low carb snacks (only around 2 grams or protein), the high fiber content of this snack helps you stay fuller for longer. Since guacamole does have a relatively short shelf life, this is not likely the most convenient snack on the list.
1 cup of baby carrots combined with 2 tablespoons of guacamole will contain around 13 grams of carbs
4. Hummus with Bell Pepper Slices
Once a hidden secret of Mediterranean cuisine, hummus is now widely available at conventional super markets. This hearty blend of chickpeas and other spices pairs wonderfully with some sliced bell pepper and makes like list as a one of the most flavorful of the low carb snacks. This is one of the lowest calorie low carb snacks on the list, providing only around 75 calories. It also will contain approximately 2 grams of protein.
As hummus continues to become more mainstream, it has also become a relatively convenient snack to purchase as it is available at many grocery stores and convenience stores. You can also add to the convenience by purchasing pre-chopped bell peppers, although this will be slightly more expensive than chopping the veggie for yourself.
2 tablespoons of hummus and a full medium sized bell pepper will provide about 10 grams of carbs
Nuts of all kinds are packed full of nutrients, protein, and heart healthy fats. They are shelf-stable, making them one of the most convenient low carb snacks that can be stored in the car, in your desk drawer, or in a purse for anytime hunger strikes. Since nuts are relatively high in calories (around 172 calories per ounce, depending on the type of nut) be sure to keep your portion to no more than a small handful. Nuts are also a good source of protein, providing around 6 grams of protein per serving. For best health benefits, look for a non-salted variety of nuts.
One ounce (around 20 nuts) of mix nuts has 6 grams of carbohydrate.
6. Raw Veggies with Greek Yogurt Ranch Dip
Since snacking on raw veggies alone can lack flavor, it is nice to have something more tasty to dip them into. However, many dips are high in fat and calories. Greek yogurt dip is a nice alternative that is lower in fat while higher in protein. Specifically, a 2 tablespoon portion of Greek yogurt dip should provide around 60 calories and 2 grams of protein. Since Greek yogurt ranch dip can be purchased at the store in snack-sized containers for on the go, this snack can still be a convenient option for those wanting to save time.
2 tablespoons of Greek Yogurt ranch dip and 1 cup of raw vegetables (like broccoli) will only have around 8 grams of carb
7. String Cheese
String cheese isn't just for kids. In fact, it is an easier, higher protein snack that can be easily thrown into your lunch bag or grabbed from the fridge for a quick satisfying snack. 1 piece of string cheese will provide only 80 calories, but 6 grams of protein. The cheese does need to be kept cold, but otherwise is a very convenient snack that requires no preparation.
1 piece of string cheese has only 1 gram of carb
Tuna can make for an easy snack when purchased pre-cooked in a can or pouch. Since it is shelf stable until opened, tuna pouches are actually one of the most convenient low carb snack options that can be stored almost anywhere to grab and go when needed. 3 ounces of tuna provides 157 calories, and a whopping 25 grams of protein making it the highest protein snack on the list. It is also an excellent source of heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Compare the nutrition label on different varieties to help find the lowest in sodium and calories. Typically tuna packed in water is lower in calories to help promote weight loss.
A 3 ounce serving of tuna has 0 grams of carbs
9. Chia Pudding
If you haven't yet tried chia pudding, you have been missing out! Made from chia seeds, this super food is packed with fiber and omega-3's to help you stay fuller for longer. There are a huge variety of recipes available online for chia pudding, but the basic recipe calls for 1 part chia seeds to 4 parts almond milk, and must be refrigerated for at least 20 minutes. Therefore, this healthy snack isn't the most convenient unless you remember to make a large batch ahead of time. Keep in mind that the nutrition content of this snack will vary greatly depending on what is used to flavor it, but a 1/2 cup serving of basic unsweetened chia pudding will provide 115 calories and 4 grams of protein.
1/2 cup of chia pudding contains 10 grams of carb
10. Turkey Jerky
Turkey jerky is a lean and flavorful snack that is high in protein. In fact, a 1 ounce serving of turkey jerky contains 13 grams of protein, and only 80 calories. This shelf-stable snacking option scores high in convenience. The one downside to this snack is that it is high in sodium, and therefore not the best option for people with high blood pressure or heart issues.
A 1 ounce serving of turkey jerky (unflavored) will provide around 4 grams of carbs
There are many low carb snacks to choose from with pros and cons to each choice. A key component of a healthy diet is variety, so we encourage you to mix and match the above listed snacks to help ensure you get the variety of vitamins and minerals you need. However, if we had to choose our favorite low carb snack, it would be hummus and bell pepper slices. This vegan and high fiber snack can be flavored in so many ways you are not likely to get bored with it soon.