Goodbye, Carbs: 5 Low-Carb Snacks to Fuel You Between Meals
In fitness communities, snacks get a bad rap. But while some athletes view snacking between meals as a lack of discipline, we do not fall under that category. We think it’s far wiser and healthier to enjoy a balanced snack than to allow yourself to go hungry.
Snacks are convenient, give you fuel when you need it most, and prevent you from eating foods that leave you feeling tired and lethargic. You can easily toss healthy snacks into a gym bag, purse, or desk drawer for when hunger hits — particularly after a workout, during meetings, or while commuting.
Like any meal, it's important to choose high-quality ingredients when building a healthy low-carb snack. If you choose a non-perishable snack, avoid products with artificial sweeteners, flavors, or preservatives. If you're following a low-carb diet, look for snacks with fiber, protein, and some fat, like a small veggie tray and a couple boiled eggs
Below we share several healthy, low-carb snack ideas to keep you full, satisfied, and fueled for your workouts.
1. Veggie Slices and Guacamole
Most people don't think of guacamole as a healthy snack option because it often comes with a mound of chips and cheesy enchiladas.
But take away the tortilla chips, and you have a healthy, high-fat, low-carb snack. Avocados contain vitamins K, C, E, and B. A large Haas avocado packs about 40% of your daily fiber, 22 grams of heart-healthy monounsaturated fat, 3 grams of protein, and less than 13 grams of carbs.
To make your standard "chips and guac" into a low-carb snack, swap the bag of tortilla chips for sliced bell peppers and celery sticks. (Meal prep hack: Slice your veggies as soon as you get home from the store, and store them in airtight containers. That way, you can grab them as you sprint out the door.)
Customize your veggies and guacamole snack for any diet:
- Keto: On the keto diet, you'll want to add more fat. Consider enjoying guac or salsa with oven-baked pork rinds, beef jerky sticks, or cheddar parmesan cheese crisps.
- Paleo or Whole30: Technically, paleo and Whole30 aren’t strict low-carb diets (they just end up being lower in carbs when you eliminate processed foods). If you want more carbs, make your own baked sweet potato chips or roasted tostones (fried plantains).
- Vegan or vegetarian: Enjoy as-is, swapping out your veggie choices to keep it exciting.
2. Smoked Salmon Cucumber Bites
For an easy snack recipe, slice cucumbers into rounds, then smother with a layer of cream cheese and smoked salmon. Smoked salmon is an excellent source of healthy omega-3 fatty acids essential for proper cardiovascular function, joint integrity, mental acuity, and many other biological processes. It also contains about 16 grams of protein and virtually no carbs per 3-oz portion.
Here are a few recipe ideas to make this a low-carb snack that fits with your diet:
- Paleo: Dairy is generally a no-go on a paleo diet. If you're going dairy-free, eliminate the cream cheese and make your smoked salmon spread with cashew cream cheese.
- Whole30: To make it Whole30, eliminate the cream cheese, and add a layer of guacamole or top with capers.
- Vegan or vegetarian: Take off the smoked salmon and cream cheese, and add a layer of sun-dried tomato hummus or roasted, crispy chickpeas and avocado.
3. Egg Salad Roll-Ups
When all else fails, hard-boiled eggs are the easiest low-carb, high-protein snack you can find. One large egg contains 6 grams of protein, 5 grams of fat, fewer than 1 gram of carbs, and just 77 calories.
But when you have the time to meal prep, you can create a more substantial meal by making an egg salad wrap. Use butter lettuce instead of a wheat or corn wrap, and top with tomatoes, pickles, and other fixings (this recipe only takes 10 minutes to prepare).
- Paleo or Whole30: Use a Whole30-friendly mayo like Primal Kitchen, or leave out the mayo and stick with olive oil and mustard.
- Keto: Use full-fat Greek yogurt instead of mayo, or add a layer of cottage cheese to your lettuce roll-up.
- Vegan: Leave out the hard-boiled eggs — make a vegan "egg" salad with mashed chickpeas.
Smoothies make for a great on-the-go, low-carb snack(just preferably not while you’re driving — remember, two hands on the wheel!).
You can easily alter smoothies to suit your tastes. Build your smoothie with a dose of healthy fats, low-carb veggies for fiber and vitamin C, and protein from a high-quality protein powder. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Keto: Combine low-carb fruits (like berries), a dollop of peanut butter, almond butter, or coconut cream, and a high-quality protein powder like 100% Grass-Fed Whey Protein Isolate.
- Paleo: Blend a gluten-free protein powder like Collagen Hydrolysate with almond butter, almond milk, and a low-carb sweetener like monk fruit or stevia. Add veggies like zucchini or cauliflower, or a mashed sweet potato or pumpkin puree. While sweet potato and pumpkin have higher carb counts, they’re great choices for less strict low-carb diets.
- Vegan or vegetarian: Use a vegan protein powder like the Protein Series Organic Vegan Protein Powder, with almond butter, cocoa powder, and coconut milk for an easy vegan smoothie.
5. Homemade Granola Bars
Seemingly high-carb snacks — like muffins, snack bars, and even pancakes — can be made with fewer carbs by simply swapping a few ingredients. By using low-carb flours like coconut or almond flour and a zero-net-carb sweetener like Stevia or monk fruit, you’ll have a sugar-free, low-carb snack.
If you're in a rush, a homemade trail mix or handful of nuts makes for an easy low-carb snack. However, if you have time to meal prep, try one of these low-carb recipes:
- Keto: This recipe combines coconut oil, monk fruit, coconut flakes, almond butter, pecans, hemp seeds, and sea salt for a high-fat, low-carb snack.
- Paleo: These gluten-free bars feature pumpkin seeds, ground flaxseed, cinnamon, nuts, almond butter, and maple syrup (eliminate if you want fewer carbs).
- Vegan: Many granola bars are already vegan. This recipe uses coconut flakes, hemp seeds, almonds, and Erythritol (a low-carb sweetener).
Meal prep hack: Individually wrap the bars and store them in the freezer for later use.
Enjoy a Low-Carb Snack Before Hunger Hits
Snacks are portable and appropriately portioned meals that can tide you over between meetings or before or after your workout. Just like any other meal, you should put some thought behind your snack choices and choose ingredients that will fuel you up (rather than weigh you down).
If you're following a low-carb diet, shopping for ready-made snacks can be frustrating (especially when the cereal and chips aisle is mostly off-limits). Therefore, we recommend making homemade low-carb snacks.
Veggies, low-carb fruits, nuts and seeds, and hard-boiled eggs will go a long way toward tiding you over until your next meal. However, if you're constantly searching for new snack ideas, try prepping your own.Egg salad, guacamole with veggie sticks, mini "sandwiches" made with cucumber and smoked salmon, and high-protein smoothies are great snack options for any low-carb diet. When making a smoothie, always add a scoop of high-quality protein powder, like collagen or whey, to keep you fueled until your next meal.