Carbs can be complicated: They’re necessary for cell function at every level of your body, but too much of them can make you feel tired and bloated.
So what is a low-carb snack exactly? According to Amy Shapiro, RD, founder of Real Nutrition, a snack might be considered low-carb if it contains under eight grams of carbs. Though Valerie Goldberg, RD, points out that the definition of “low-carb” can vary from person to person, depending on their weight, diet, and goals.
While you shouldn’t cut carbs entirely unless under the advice of a physician, grabbing the occasional low-carb snack may help your energy levels, and enable you to hit other essential macronutrients like protein and fat, which help build muscle and promote satiety, respectively.
Here, your ultimate low-carb snack list:
Raspberries are tart, which is an indicator they aren’t sugar bombs. While they don’t have many carbs to begin with, their fiber content means you net even fewer carbs than indicated on food labels (some quick math: carbs minus fiber equals net carbs, the amount your body will actually absorb). Rich in phytochemicals, raspberries also have protective properties against certain cancers.
Per serving: 32 calories, 0 g fat (0 g saturated), 7 g carbs, 1 mg sodium, 3 g sugar, 4 g fiber, 1 g protein
Broccoli florets have such a unique texture, that you feel like you’re eating something a lot more substantial than you actually are. Whether dipped in a Greek yogurt-based dressing or just eaten plain, broccoli is a low-carb way to sneak in a good source of vitamins A and C, folate, and calcium.
Per serving: 15 calories, 0 g fat (0 g saturated), 3 g carbs, 15 mg sodium, 1 g sugar, 1 g fiber, 1 g protein
With tons of protein per serving and very few carbs, Greek yogurt will keep you full without raising your blood sugar, says Shapiro. “Best yet, these days you can find Greek yogurt at 7-11, Starbucks, or even in the airport,” she says. Goldberg recommends topping it with cinnamon for extra antioxidants.
Per serving: 146 calories, 11 g fat (1.5 g saturated), 8 g carbs, 5 mg sodium, 0 g sugar, 5 g fiber, 20 g protein
A low-carb dieter’s saving grace, Shapiro says half an avocado drizzled with olive oil, lemon, and sea salt is a satisfying snack you can pack ahead or serve yourself at home.
“Full of fiber and heart-healthy fats, the sugars here are low, but the creamy texture and the fat content will help to keep you satisfied without many carbs at all,” she says. Patricia Bannan, RDN, author of Eat Right When Time is Tight, says avocados also support heart health and weight management.
Per serving: 114 calories, 11 g fat (1.5 g saturated), 6 g carbs, 5 mg sodium, 0 g sugar, 5 g fiber, 1 g protein
Muffin Tin Eggs
If a hard-boiled egg isn’t your jam, Goldberg recommends filling scrambled eggs in a muffin tin and baking them for a portable, mess-free snack. Chopped veggies like spinach and artichoke are optional, but highly recommended.
Per serving: 78 calories, 4 g fat (1 g saturated), 2 g carbs, 165 mg sodium, 0 g sugar, 1 g fiber, 9 g protein
Green Bell Pepper
Unlike red bell peppers that can overwhelm with their overly sweet taste (don’t @ me), green peppers offer a subtler earthiness. Luckily, that’s reflected in the carb count, which rings in at just four grams per serving.
Per serving: 18 calories, 0 g fat (0 g saturated), 4 g carbs, 3 mg sodium, 2 g sugar, 2 g fiber, 1 g protein
For a refreshing, ultra-hydrating snack (that legit counts toward your recommended water intake!) look no further than watermelon. It’s particularly high in lycopene, a powerful antioxidant responsible for heart health and sun protection. Unfortunately that SPF is still mandatory.
Per serving: 23 calories, 0 g fat (0 g saturated), 6 g carbs, 1 mg sodium, 4 g sugar, 0 g fiber, 0 g protein
Chocolate Chip Cookie
Made with cocoa butter, eggs, almond flour, and zero sugar (thanks, stevia!), these low-carb cookies won’t raise your blood sugar.
Per serving: 90 calories, 8 g fat (3.5 g saturated), 7 g carbs, 35 mg sodium, 0 g sugar, 2 g fiber, 2 g protein
Shrimp is super low in calories so you can eat a large portion without hitting your carb limit, according to Shapiro. “I tell my clients to keep frozen shrimp in their freezer to make for easy meals or easy snacks. Just defrost under running water, cook them real quick, and dig in,” she says. She notes that they’re carb-free as long as you stay away from sugar-laden cocktail sauce. Opt instead for guacamole or hot sauce.
Per serving: 72 calories, 0 g fat (0 g saturated), 0 g carbs, 101 mg sodium, 0 g sugar, 0 g fiber, 17 g protein
Cauliflower rice has become our de facto low-carb grain replacement, so it’s no surprise they taste great packed into flatbreads. Along with shredded cauliflower, this low-carb bread contains mozzarella and egg whites. Toss on some veggies or a spread of guac, and you’ve got a super-delicious snack.
Per serving: 50 calories, 2.5 g fat (1.5 g saturated), 4 g carbs, 110 mg sodium, 1 g sugar, 1 g fiber, 5 g protein
Protein-rich pumpkin seeds are perfect for all-day snacking and topping on salads and veggie bowls. Since they’re untoasted and unsalted, you can jazz them up however you like. Metabolism-boosting cayenne is a total game-changer.
Per serving: 150 calories, 11 g fat (2.5 g saturated), 3 g carbs, 0 mg sodium, 0 g sugar, 2 g fiber, 9 g protein
One of the highest-protein snack nuts, pistachios are an ideal low-carb snack, according to Bannan. “The better-for-you fats, plant protein, and fiber is a winning combination that may help you feel fuller longer,” she says. “Nearly 90 percent of the fats found in pistachios are the heart-healthy mono and polyunsaturated types of fats.”
Per serving: 159 calories, 13 g fat (2 g saturated), 8 g carbs, 0 mg sodium, 2 g sugar, 3 g fiber, 6 g protein
If you’re looking for a low-carb, cost-effective snack, Bannan says plain hard-boiled eggs fit the bill. In addition to warding off hunger, eggs play a role in promoting muscle strength, brain function, and eye health. For added convenience, she recommends buying a bag of cooked hard-boiled eggs and snacking on them throughout the week.
Per serving: 78 calories, 5 g fat (1.5 g saturated), 1 g carbs, 62 mg sodium, 1 g sugar, 0 g fiber, 6 g protein
Made primarily of water, cucumbers help you stay satiated and add volume to your meal or snack. Be sure to keep the peel on for extra nutrients.
Per serving: 8 calories, 0 g fat (0 g saturated), 2 g carbs, 1 mg sodium, 1 g sugar, 0 g fiber, 0 g protein
Olives are a great option for increasing your healthy fat intake (and adhering to the heart-healthy Mediterranean Diet), but keep portions in mind since their sodium content is on the higher side.
Per serving: 81 calories, 7 g fat (1 g saturated), 6 g carbs, 735 mg sodium, 0 g sugar, 3 g fiber, 1 g protein