Snacks. Snacking. I need snacks. How exactly does one snack on keto? Is snacking even allowed on keto? I get these questions ALL the time. First of all, let’s start by banishing the word “allowed”. We’re all adults here and none of us requires permission for what we choose to put in our mouths and bodies. What I do is provide you with information on how the choices we make impact our bodies and I may even show you how they support or sabotage your personal goals. What you actually do is up to you. So sure, you can snack and sure there are keto type snacks that you can eat and enjoy and remain on track. In this post I’ll explain what happens when we snack, give you some ideas for keto approved snacks and provide you with some recipes & links for easy to make snacks. Let’s jump in!
Why do we snack though?
Why do we snack? We’ve been taught that snacking is ok, and in fact, is beneficial, and that it depends on what we’re snacking on, right? We’ve been taught that 6 small meals throughout the day “keeps our metabolism up” and helps us lose weight. Ready to challenge that conventional notion? Good, because it is not true! I’ll explain. There are whole businesses whose model depends on us snacking throughout the day…chips and cookies and nuts and buns and cakes and crackers and biscuits. Think about it… Whole aisles in the supermarket are dedicated to these snacks shouting out to us as we peruse. Claims of “good for you!” and “whole grain!” and “fortified with…” scream from the colorful, shiny packages. They are cross merchandised with all manner of drinks, sugary and alcoholic and the condiments like dips that you simply MUST have with them. We raise our kids pushing snacks at them, even “good” ones. And by the time we’re adults, well, snacking has simply become a habit! We snack because what else does one do when watching a movie, or driving long distances in our vehicles or reading a book. Face it: snacking has very little to do with actual hunger. It’s something to do. A habit. Do you think our ancestors who lived in caves or on the plains snacked?
We’re fatter and sicker than ever though
As a planet, especially those of us here in the west, we are fatter and sicker than ever. Diabetes is an epidemic and along with diabetes come conditions like cardio vascular disease, arthritis, cancer, PCOS, fatty liver disease and Alzheimer’s. More and more the evidence is pointing to insulin resistance as the common root cause to all of this. So what is this insulin resistance and why am I mentioning it in a post about snacking? Here we go…
When we eat this is what happens
When we eat carbohydrates in particular (sugars, starches, grains…think bread, rice, biscuits, flour) our body responds by secreting a hormone called insulin critical to the breakdown of these carbs to release energy. Problems arise when the insulin that’s secreted cannot effectively do its job, and in response to our now elevated blood sugar levels (remember our blood sugar levels rise when we eat carbs, not just sugar) our body keeps telling itself to secrete more and more insulin to deal with the increased blood sugar levels. The result is two-fold: high blood sugar levels AND high insulin levels. So much shit happens in our bodies when both insulin and blood sugar levels are high! High insulin levels cause our bodies to hold on for dear life to the fat in our bodies and prevent the breakdown of fat. The result is that we at best lose no weight and at worst we gain weight. This imbalance that is caused with high blood sugar levels and high insulin levels also interfere with our satiety signals, and the result is that we always feel hungry. Ever wonder why you can never just eat half a bag of those chips or just 3 cookies? The carbs and their effect on your body chemistry guarantee that you’ll crave more and more. A vicious cycle ensues.
High insulin levels have also been shown to cause inflammation which is at the root of arthritis for example. High insulin levels interfere with the optimal functioning of other hormones like our sex hormones, and conditions like PCOS flourish! The high blood sugar levels can lead to a diagnosis of diabetes type 2 and of course obesity. Want to lose weight? Stop increasing your blood sugar levels and triggering the release of so much insulin! The best way to do this is to cut carbohydrates. See, science…not magic!
But to there’s more… there are studies that show that even some fats and protein will cause our bodies to secrete insulin. Remember now, in order to burn fat, we want reduce the amount of sugar or glucose in our bodies (our body burns all glucose present before burning fat) and we want to reduce the release of insulin since insulin tells our body to hold on to and store any fat present. So for sure, we’re not going to eat carbs, especially the refined ones like rice and flour and sugar, right? But if proteins and fats also cause insulin to be released, it follows that, creating periods of NOT EATING (fasting!) will actually be beneficial in our pursuit of weight loss. That’s why so many of us have turned to Intermittent Fasting as a way to enhance our weight loss.
Eating round the clock keeps you fat!
Do you understand now why this eating around the clock is preventing you from losing weight? When you’re constantly eating, even if it’s just a snack, your blood sugar levels and your insulin levels remain high and you’re never ever giving your body a chance to burn its own fat. It’s important for you to understand this when you are making decisions as to whether or not you should snack.
Snacking as a Strategy Early in your Keto Journey
I’ve explained how constant eating keeps us fat. But it can be hard to simply stop eating after years of snacking and feeding on carbs. When you are just starting out on keto, however, the first thing I advise my clients to do is this: “Never Go Hungry”. You don’t have to. And if you allow yourself to go hungry, you’ll soon cheat. Deprivation is not a sustainable strategy for weight loss.
So as a first step on your keto journey, I say sure, go ahead and snack. But snack on high protein, healthy fats snacks. This strategy allows your body to gradually transition to becoming fat adapted under your new low-carb way of eating. You’re denying your body of sources of sugar/glucose from carbs from your diet and therefore enabling it to turn to burning fat, your fat, for energy. And this is what we want to happen in order to lose weight. So yes, you can absolutely snack on keto, and it may be an important part of your “Winning With Keto” strategy, at least in the first instance.
And a couple other great things happen when you’re burning fat instead of glucose for energy. You’re producing ketones which are great for brain functioning, and your cravings and appetite subside with your now stabilized blood sugar and insulin levels. Your inability to stop eating when your’re full when you eat traditional so called “balanced” meals where 55% of your calories are from carbs is not because you’re weak or greedy. If you are struggling with weight, have a huge appetite, never really feel full and experience strong cravings for more and more food, chances are you are insulin resistant, and unless you reduce your blood sugar levels and therefore your insulin levels, you’ll find it hard as hell to break out of this vicious cycle of eating and not losing weight.
So yes, I recommend getting to a place where you have a smaller and smaller window each day for eating. I added intermittent fasting after a few months on keto. I explain intermittent fasting here and how I did it here. Give your body a chance to burn its own fat. This will happen over time as you first of all become fat adapted when eating a low-carb diet and then as you layer on the practice of Intermittent Fasting. But on your journey to get there, remember not to go hungry, and not to mess with the carbs at all. I’ve found it useful to visualize my blood sugar increasing if I ate those carbs, and my poor body pumping out more and more insulin to deal with the carbs, and my body in turn responding by holding on to my own fat and my cells becoming stressed and inflamed in the presence of all this insulin and blood sugar. The result? An easier decision to turn away from carbs and to limit my food intake to specific windows of time.
Keto Snack Ideas
Here are some snack ideas that are keto approved:
- Nuts, sweet or spicy depending on your preference. Think a trail mix type of situation where you mix and match your favourite nuts. Be sure to watch your portion sizes here. A small pack of peanuts is 4g carbs. Read your labels! A single small pack is enough.
- Granola type mix made with nuts and seeds
- Cheese: have some cubes of a good hard cheddar. Or spread some cream cheese on thick cucumber slices. Cream cheese mixed with Solomon Gundy (a delicious paste made here in Jamaica with smokes herrings and peppers) is a treat!
- Fat bombs: these are typically small, sweet treats (there are some great savoury ones too) made with butter, cream cheese, and an approved sugar substitute like stevia or erythritol, unsweetened chocolate or cocoa powder or peanut butter. One single fat bomb can stave off cravings and satisfy an urge
- Keto Crackers made with almond or coconut flour and herbs and cheese
- Cheese crisps
- Dry roasted seasoned cauliflower as a popcorn substitute!
- Deli meat slices stuffed with cream cheese
A Note on Keto Snacks from the Supermarket
I know convenience is a huge feature that has become necessary in this busy modern world. And given the growing popularity of the keto diet, there are many out there seeking to capitalize on the growing desire to eat “keto food”. Now not because the package says “KETO” means it is! Please always, always, always read the back of the package where it states serving size and grams carbs. Look at the ingredients too please. I saw a pack of crackers proudly advertised as “keto cheese crackers”. That pack was 2 servings per pack, and each serving was 20g carbs due to the WHEAT that was in the product! If you have determined that your daily carb count for the day ought to be 25g carbs or less, you can immediately see what eating this snack will do to your goals. Food manufacturers will do everything possible to get you to buy their products including making declarations that are not 100% truthful or helpful but which are still legal. “Keto” has no definition in law, so they can declare anything to be keto. READ YOUR LABELS. I try to avoid as much processed food as possible. Even those protein bars and Greek yogurts and protein powders will have good protein gram count, but be sure to look at grams of carbs, especially grams of carbs from sugar.
Keto Snack Recipes
FAT BOMBS: 99 recipes for sweet and savory fat bombs. Check it out!
KETO BUTTER COOKIES
- 1 cup blanched almond flour
- 1/4 cup powdered erythritol sweetener or your low carb sweetener of choice to taste
- 3 tablespoons salted butter softened to room temperature
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 350 F.
- Prepare a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat.
- In a mixing bowl, combine all ingredients, thoroughly stirring until resembling a dough. As you stir, initially it will look crumbly and then it will form into a cohesive dough.
- Use the dough to form 1-inch balls, placing them on the baking sheet. There should be about 12 balls, separated from each other by about 2 inches.
- Flatten each dough ball using a fork, then rotate 90 degrees and flatten again, forming a criss-cross pattern. Or form into a different desired shape and pattern.
- Bake at 350 F until the cookies are golden around the edges, 8 to 10 minutes depending on the thickness of the cookies.
- The cookies will be very soft when they come out of the oven. Let cool completely before removing them from the baking sheet.
SPICY SAVORY NUTS (salty and crunchy!)
- 8 oz. pecans or almonds or walnuts or sunflower or pumpkin seeds (and you can mix your favourite combinations)
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp olive oil or coconut oil
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp paprika powder or chili powder
- Mix all ingredients in a medium frying pan, and cook on medium heat until the almonds are warmed through.
- Let cool and serve as a snack with a drink. Store in a container with lid at room temperature.
Note: you’ll want to practice portion control with these nuts. No more than ⅓ cup is what I suggest.
CRUNCHY KETO CRACKERS
- 1/3 cup almond flour
- 1 1/2 cups of your favorite seed combinations (sunflower and pumpkin seeds are great!)
- 1 tablespoon ground psyllium husk powder
- 1 teaspoon pink salt
- 4 tablespoons melted coconut oil
- 1 cup boiling water
- Optional: Fresh Rosemary for extra flavor
- Mix all the ingredients together.
- Spread the dough out on a piece of parchment paper on a baking sheet and bake it on 300 degrees for about 40 to 45 minutes (careful carefully because some seeds cook faster than others).
- When they are fresh out of the oven and hot, I like to sprinkle a bit more salt on the top of them before they cool.
- You can use a pizza wheel to cut squares in the dough after you bake it or you can break off pieces when it’s done.
- All the crackers to completely cool before serving th
FAUX KETO POPCORN (made with cauliflower)
- 1/2 cup cauliflower
- 2 tablespoons of butter
- 2 teaspoons taco seasoning
- Salt to taste
- Melt the butter
- Break the cauliflower into small florets and spread in a single layer on a plate
- Microwave just until hot but not cooked
- Pour the melted butter over the cauliflower
- Add the taco seasoning
- Mix gently
KETO POPCORN CHEESE PUFFS
- 4 ounces of Cheddar Cheese, sliced
- Cut the cheese into small ¼ inch squares.
- Place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and cover with a clean tea towel (dish towel). Leave to dry for at least 24 hours (you might need to leave it longer if it is humid where you live).
- Preheat your oven to 200C/390F and bake the cheese for 3-5 minutes until it is puffed up.
- Leave to cool for 10 minutes before enjoying.
KETO GRANOLA CEREAL
INGREDIENTS (you can feel free to add or subtract the nuts and seeds you like but keep the proportions of dry to wet ingredients the same as the recipe below! So if you don’t want sesame seeds, add more coconut or sunflower seeds)
- 8 oz. pecans or hazelnuts or almonds
- ¾ cup unsweetened shredded coconut
- 1 cup sunflower seeds
- 4 tbsp pumpkin seeds
- 4 tbsp sesame seeds
- ¾ cup flaxseed
- 1 tbsp turmeric
- 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- ½ cup almond flour
- 1 cup water
- 4 tbsp coconut oil
- Preheat the oven to 300°F (150°C). Chop the nuts coarsely in a food processor or with a sharp knife. Mix all ingredients in a bowl.
- Spread out on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Roast in the oven for 20 minutes. Be sure to set a timer. Nuts and seeds are heat sensitive and should not get burned.
- Remove from the oven and stir the mixture, then return to the oven for about 20 minutes more. Check again. When the granola feels almost dry, turn off the heat and let the granola cool in the residual heat of the cooling oven.
A ⅓ to a ½ cup of this granola will keep you full. Eat dry as a snack or have it with a cup of coconut or almond milk.
- The less you snack the better
- Early in your keto journey DO snack in order to not get deprived and end up falling off the waggon
- After a few weeks or months on keto, depends on your own body, consider transitioning to anew Intermittent Fasting habit where you confine all your eating to a specific window each day
- In this eating window, eat keto type snacks
What are some of your own favourite keto or low-carb snacks? Please share! Remember to subscribe to my blog and claim the great freebies you’re entitled to, including recipes and meal planning guides 🙂
I am not a medical doctor nor am I a certified nutritionist and make no claims to the contrary. Each individual’s dietary needs and restrictions are unique to the individual. You are ultimately responsible for all decisions pertaining to your health. The information on this website is written and produced for informational purposes only. This website is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Content should not be considered a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment. The reader assumes full responsibility for consulting a qualified health professional regarding health conditions or concerns, and before starting a new diet or health program.