If you had to name the two biggest food movements of the past year, it’s safe to say that plant-based and low-carb eating come out on top. You wouldn’t be wrong—while the keto diet continues to be a mainstay of the healthy eating community since it exploded into the mainstream in 2018, plant-based eating has never been bigger thanks to renewed concerns about the health of the planet.
However, if a person was interested in combining plant-based or vegan and low-carb eating…that’s where things can get tricky. Many plant-based forms of protein, like whole grains and lentils, are naturally higher in carbs—making them seem not quite suitable for stricter forms of low-carb eating. Snacking in particular is challenging, says Lauren Harris-Pincus, RDN, author of The Protein-Packed Breakfast Club. “While it’s easy to find low-carb, high-protein snacks that include animal protein like cheese, turkey, jerky or whey based bars or chips, it’s tougher to find low-carb, plant-based snacks,” she says.
Another tricky thing? “Low-carb eating is not very well defined,” Harris-Pincus says. “Some [people] say less than 100 grams of net carbs per day, some as low as 20 grams.” When you’re determined to eat primarily plant-based, being okay with slightly more carbs than traditional keto comes with the territory. A pretty good goal is to aim for 10 grams of net carbs (that’s total carbohydrates minus fiber) or less for a snack, she says.
Don’t feel like reading a million labels to find the right low-carb, vegan snack? Don’t blame you. We asked some dietitians to share their recommendations.
Keep reading for the best low-carb vegan snacks that RDs love:
This nut butter is unique in that it has added fats, like coconut butter and MCT oil, to help fill you up. “Plus, it’s lightly sweetened and flavored by fruit powders and erythritol with no sugar added and is rich in fiber,” says Charlotte Martin, RDN, CPT. That’s five grams per two-tablespoon serving—aka 25 percent of the recommended daily intake for women.
Thanks to the sugar alternatives and fiber count, the net carbs per serving are fairly minimal in this vegan snack, too. “The net carb count per two tablespoons is three grams—you subtract the fiber and erythritol from total carbs to get net carb count here,” Martin explains. You can’t beat that throwback PB&J-esque flavor, either.
2. Wonderful Pistachios Single Serve Packs ($16 for 24-pack)
“I love pistachios for snacking, especially when they’re seasoned with salt and pepper,” says Kelly Jones, RD. You get a healthy. dose plant protein (five grams), fiber (two grams), and phytonutrients in every serving—all major perks in Jones’ view. (And only four grams of net carbs to boot.) Plus, “over 90 percent of the fat in pistachios are the better-for-you mono- and polyunsaturated types. That plant protein-fiber-fat trio can help keep you fuller longer,” she adds. What’s not to love?
3. Seapoint Farms Dry Roasted Edamame ($11 for 12-pack)
If nuts aren’t your jam, you can get your low-carb protein fix from this portable edamame option; each serving offers 20 grams of protein and 12 grams of fiber with just four net grams of carbohydrates. “I love keeping them in my gym bag so I can snack on them post-workout, but they’re also a great protein for a quick snack lunch with some veggies, guac, and hummus,” says Jones.
4. GG Scandinavian Fiber Crispbread ($18 for pack of five)
Use these fiber-rich crackers as a base for all of your plant-based snacking needs. “They offer four grams of fiber and just two grams of net carbs per cracker,” says Jones. “The soluble fiber they’re full of helps you feel fuller for longer, supports healthy digestion, lowers cholesterol, and helps stabilize blood sugar.” Pair them with nut butter, avocado, bean dip, and more.
5. Lily’s Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups ($20 for three-pack)
“I’m a big fan of all of Lily’s Sweets dark chocolate products as a vegan option, but their Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups are perfect to keep in your purse and enjoy at work or on-the-go since they come individually wrapped or in two-packs,” says Jones. A serving size of two cups gives you just 10 grams of net carbs, making them a good sweet option. “I especially love that they use fair trade certified chocolate and keep the sugar out without using artificial sweeteners,” Jones adds.
6. F-Factor Peanut Butter Fiber/Protein Bars ($35 for 12)
“It’s tough to find plant-based protein bars that are low-carb and high in fiber,” says Harris-Pincus, which is why she’s a fan of these F-Factor peanut butter protein bars. Each bar contain 20 grams of plant-based protein (from a combo of brown rice flour, peanut butter, and almond butter), 20 grams of fiber, and four to five grams of net carbs.
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