The keto diet is amazing in many ways. It can give you steady energy levels and heightened mental focus. It keeps you full and many have reported serious weight loss success.
Oh and all while chowing down on all those foods you were told to avoid your whole life. Eggs. Steak. Cheese. Even BACON!
But if there is one thing that sucks about the diet…
The packaged food industry was not created with your ketogenic lifestyle in mind. Those salty crunchy, delicious snacks will kick you out of ketosis before you know what hit you.
But you don’t need to feel hopeless wandering the grocery store isle. Fear not the gas station food stop on your next road trip.
You have to be a little creative, but keto snacking can be easy AND delicious. And today we are going to show you how – so you never get caught in a pinch. Not even on the busiest of days.
The Ultimate Keto Snacking Cheat Sheet
How do you know a snack is “keto approved”?
There are a few factors we use to score keto snacks. None are more important than net carb count.
(Definition): Net Carbs = Total Carbs - Fiber
Here is your keto snacking “cheat sheet,” shown from lowest-carb (eat all day) to highest-carb (special occasions!)
How many carbs are “too many”?
Think about it this way: if the average snack has 200 calories and you are on a 2,000 calorie, then each snack is about 10% of your daily calorie budget. Many keto guides recommend <25g of net carbs per day, which means you should target 2-3 net carbs per snack.
Anything over 5g of net carbs, consume sparingly. We know it can be tough – a single carrot alone has 4.5g of net carbs!
The "Magic 6" Keto Snacks
Now which on the list is the best? Good question, not all keto snacks were created equal.
The PERFECT keto snack is:
NUTRITIOUS: It fits our ideal keto macro ratio on it’s own
DELICIOUS: hey if you’re giving up potato chips for this, you deserve something tasty!
CONVENIENT: it should be consumable with little to no effort. No blenders, ovens, or microwaves. Since snacking often happens on-the-go, portability is a big plus.
- PURE: added preservatives, additives, and sweeteners are the downfall of many keto snacks. The fewer the ingredients, the better.
We’ve scored each snack on the list and have it down to a “Magic 6.” These are the half-dozen keto snacks you could even live off of entirely. Not a day goes by we don’t have one (or all) of the snacks on this list.
These may just be the hidden champions of the keto snacking world. Pork rinds are pork skin fried in rendered pork fat or other oil. Don’t let that description scare you.. the result is a Cheeto-like puff that packs 5g of fat, 9g of protein, and ZERO carbs.
Pork rinds are as easy as a bag of chips and portable. They also score big in accessibility – they are one of the few keto foods you can find in a gas station.
Now the bad news. Many pork rind products are overly processed and fried in unhealthy vegetable oils. They can have added sugar and nasty flavoring agents. Be careful and opt for natural brands if possible. Or best yet.. Make your own! (link to our recipe).
About as close as it gets to the perfect nut. Macadamia’s have one of the highest fat and lowest carb content of any known nut. They have a buttery taste that makes them almost irresistible.
They are from-the-earth and usually come lightly roasted and salted. Their downfall? The price tag. Macadamia nuts are expensive – about 3X the price of raw almonds – but they are worth it to keep on hand. Here is our favorite bulk option available on Amazon.
Another contender for nature’s perfect food, avocados have it all. They’re loaded with heart-healthy fats. They have more fiber than broccoli and more potassium than bananas (take that carbs!). They taste delicious eaten with a spoon and a touch of salt and pepper.
But they’re not nature’s most convenient food. Avocados have an annoyingly short period of ripeness:
“Not yet, not yet, not yet, EAT ME NOW, too late.”
Plus they involve slicing, coring, and usually a mushy mess on your hands. Whoever figures out dry, stable avocados is going to make a lot of money…
Almonds are delicious. But something magical happens when they are turned to butter. They become creamy, decadent, and most important – versatile.
Almond butter comes perfect out of the jar, paired with veggies like celery, or lathered over berries. It’s packed with nutrients and has an ideal keto macro ratio. Each serving of almond butter has 16g of fat, 8g of protein, and 3g of net carbs.
It’s convenient too; you can take it anywhere – except on planes (trust us we’ve tried… not a fun experience). Just watch the carb content, almond butter is easy to overdo.
There’s a reason keto gurus like Tim Ferriss and Dr. Dominic D’Agostino will forget their toothbrush before forgetting sardines on a trip. Sardines are LOADED with healthy fats, protein, and more vitamins and minerals than we could list on this page.
The taste? About that… sardines can be an acquired taste. But we think they’re delicious! They have a salty, slightly smokey flavor, much like lean tuna. You can get them packed in olive oil, tomato sauce, and even jalapenos. There are many options to overcome the “fishy” taste.
Did you know that “sardine” does not refer to single species but rather 21 different kinds of small fish? So you’ve got options: Wild Planet offers a larger, meatier fish, while King Oscars’ are small and silky smooth. These are our two favorites – they are forever stocked in our pantries.
Need we say more? I mean who doesn’t love cheese!? More than dangerously delicious, cheese has a great keto ratio with 9g of fat, 7g of protein, and no carbs. Just be sure to skip the “diet” cheese and go for full-fat.
Cheese is affordable and comes in near-endless varieties. You’ve got sticks, wheels, slices, and shreds. You’ve got milk from cow, goat, and sheep. Even Llamas!
Most cheese is convenient and portable, but does requires refrigeration. Lactose in cheese can also be problematic. Moderation is key – cheese is probably the easiest keto snack to consume excessively.
Low-carb is not keto per se. Keto also requires high fat and moderate protein.
This is where many keto snacks – on their own – fall short. Our veggies provide carbs and fiber, but often little fat or protein. Lean meats like jerky have tons of protein but not much else.
But by combining a few of the foods above… we can make a PERFECT keto snack. Here are a few of our favorites:
Deli meat + cheese roll-up. Full-fat cheese is a great pair for protein-rich meats. Roll up meat slices with your choice of cheese for a delicious, portable keto snack. Throw in some lettuce and tomato slices and we promise you won’t miss those sandwiches anymore.
Celery sticks + peanut butter. You’ve probably heard that you burn more calories chewing celery than you get from eating it. It’s true that celery probably won’t hold you over until your next meal – but peanut butter will. Peanut butter gives us fat and protein and celery gives us the crunch to make this an irresistible combination.
- Berries + Almond Butter. This combination will bring you all the childhood nostalgia of eating a PB&J sandwich. It’s nutrient packed too – berries have micronutrients and antioxidants and almond butter has an ideal keto macro profile.
Wait I can have chocolate? Fruit!? Since when is coffee a snack?
Creativity is the secret to successful keto snacking. You can find keto success in many foods you previously thought were forbidden. Here’s how:
Making chocolate without sugar is really hard. We’ve tried many times. Pure cacao is very bitter and that’s why almost every chocolate product has sweetener added.
Added sugars can easily blow your daily carb budget. Even an 85% cacao dark chocolate bar has 5g of sugar per serving. You’ll see some products claiming they use “low-glycemic” coconut or maple sugar. Don’t fall for these.. sugar is sugar!
Your best bet is to find a quality dark chocolate made with non-sugar sweeteners. Monk Fruit is our favorite, and stevia and erythritol are close seconds.
Keto Bark is a delicious option available from Amazon, sweetened only with monk fruit and corn fiber. If you are crazy like us, you can also try a 100% cacao bar. Warning: not for the faint of heart!
Fruits range from the “good on occasion” to the “oh my god that’s the worst thing you could ever eat on keto.” Fibrous berries like raspberries and blackberries fall into the keto-approved category (in moderation). Bananas and mangos.. avoid at all costs.
The nutrients in berries make them worth the carb cost. They are loaded with micronutrients like Vitamin C that can become deficient with a ketogenic diet. They are also a great source of antioxidants.
Look for wild sources from farmers markets if you can – those will have less sugar than mass-produced grocery store varieties.
The idea of Bulletproof – putting butter (yes, butter) in your coffee – taught us that our favorite morning ritual can also be a nutritious one.
Bulletproof has since been expanded to the idea of “keto coffee,” which is enhanced coffee that helps you get into and maintain ketosis. Grass-fed butter, coconut oil, and MCT oil are the go-to’s for making keto coffee. If interested to give it a go, we recommend you try our recipe of the perfect cup of keto coffee.
A fat-fueled keto coffee can be the perfect “snack” to hold you over between meals. It has even become the breakfast-of-choice for many on the diet.
The problem is making your own keto coffee can be a pain. You need to brew the coffee and measure the ingredients, not to mention remembering to buy and keep all of them in the fridge and cupboard. The full DIY isn't the ultimate convenience we look for in grab-and-go keto snacks.
Fortunately there are some instant products on the market that solve all that. Just add hot water and voila – a delicious, nutritious coffee. We make one at Keto Farms that we “snack” on every morning and afternoon.
The Forbidden List
There’s a saying that knowing what not to do is often more important than knowing what to do. The same applies to keto snacking.
There are many products in the store marketed as a “healthy” alternatives. They may say “low-carb” or “paleo” or “natural.” Treat these products like landmines.
Don’t buy anything until reading the nutritional label AND ingredient list.
To save you time, here is our list of healthy snacks to avoid:
- Sweet potato chips
- Black bean chips
- Coconut chips
- Veggie chips
Dips & Spreads
- Sweetened nut milk
- “Dark” chocolates
- Coconut sugar
- Maple sugar
- Agave syrup
- KIND bars
- Clif bars
- Lara bars
Snacking is often called the hardest part of keto. It doesn’t have to be.
There are tons of foods out there that meet all the criteria for the perfect keto snack: nutritious, delicious, convenient, and pure. Once you know what to look for, you’ll never break keto for hunger. Even at a gas station.
Ben & Brandon