Admittedly, anyone trying to lose weight, via a low-carb diet or otherwise, ought to avoid snacking as much as possible. The whole idea is to encourage your body to burn its fat, and constantly eating is poor strategy in that regard. However, if you’re like me (that is, human), you like to eat and eat often. In my first year of eating a low-carb, high-fat diet, I snacked my way to a 50+ pound weight loss.
Later on, I found myself fasting a little more, and snacking a little less. You’ve got to mix up your approach from time to time, to avoid boredom and keep your metabolism on its toes.
My favorite low-carb snacks
But I can snack and keep my carb-count very, very low. Here are my top five favorite store-bought low-carb snacks, in rank order.
I’ve written about nuts several times, probably because I love them so much. My favorite nut is the macadamia; nothing else matches its buttery flavor and ratio of fat to other macro-nutrients. The almond is a close second. Peanuts (not technically a nut, but close enough) are probably the cheapest and easiest to find. I usually have a bag of shelled walnuts around, too.
I prefer my nuts to be roasted and at least lightly salted, but I sometimes eat almonds raw and unsalted.
Nuts score high for convenience. You can buy them anywhere, and they have no need for refrigeration. Indeed, I’d say nuts set the gold-standard for snacking convenience and portability.
The big danger with nuts is that you will eat them to excess; even with a low-carb nut, the carbs and calories can add up quickly. With the possible exception of macadamias (which are high-fat, low-carb and low-portein) careful portion control is needed.
2. Pork Rinds
When you want a low-carb snack from a bag that has some of the easy crunch-ability of a potato chip, pork rinds are the way to go. Pork rinds are also dip-able. You can find them in most grocery stores, and in plain or flavored versions. I like the barbeque flavor, but recently have discovered and enjoyed the salt-and-vinegar flavor, too. Generally, a pork rind contains no carbohydrates.
As with nuts, pork rinds are a convenient snack. However, pork rinds are prone to smashing, so don’t travel as well as nuts.
The cheese stick is a conveniently packaged low-carb snack, and a highly nutritious one, but you can also buy a brick of your favorite hard-cheese and slice it as you go. Most cheese requires some refrigeration, and not as shelf-stable as the average nut.
But cheese comes in many forms. Recently, Anita and I have been buying a product called Cello Whisps at Costco (I’m not affiliated with either), which are a packaged cheese crisp — basically, a cracker made of pure cheese. We’ve only tried the parmesan version, which are excellent, but according to the Cello Whisps website, there is also a cheddar cheese crisp. My one complaint about Whisps is that they tend to crumble fairly easily – but then, so do a lot of potato chips.
I love a big, juicy dill pickle. This is not as portable a low-carb snack as most of the others, but nothing beats a pickle for pure cold crunch. Of course, a sweet pickle will be much carbier.
Convenience is a bit of a problem for pickles. You probably won’t stick a jar of pickles in your backpack as you would a bag of nuts. Once the pickle jar is open, refrigeration is necessary.
However, when it comes to quenching my hunger at a very low cost in carbs and calories, a good dill pickle does the job.
5. Bacon Jerky
This one is not a snack that I eat around the house much, but a pack of bacon jerky is a great resource on a road trip. For the bacon lover, the jerky provides an emotional boost. It tastes just like bacon, but you’re in no danger of burning your tongue.
Of course, you can buy jerky made from various meats, such as beef, or make your own, but some recipes contain significant carbs. When shopping for pre-made jerky, read the labels carefully.You also want a variety that can be open a few days without needing to be refrigerated.
You can find bacon jerky in drug stores and convenience stores. I once rode the train from Chicago to New Orleans and survived a night and a day on bacon jerky and almonds. But that experience crossed the boundary between snacking and surviving!
Finally, I’m going to give a shout-out to coffee as a low-carb snack. Any time of the day, I do love my coffee!
So, what’s your favorite among low-carb snacks?