We’ve all been there: You tell yourself, “OK, today is the day—I’m committing to a healthy weight loss plan to not only shed these pounds but keep them off. It’s only nutritious food choices from here on out.” But within a few days (or even a few hours), you find yourself sedentary and snacking away on handfuls of sugary or sodium-packed ultra-processed munchies. Instead of potato chips or jellybeans, why not opt for an equally tasty yet more satisfying high-protein, low-carb snack?
Let’s get real: It doesn’t matter how much willpower you may exercise when trying to lose weight, food FOMO is the absolute worst! Couple that with hunger pangs and cravings, and you have an obnoxious, uncomfortable collection of distractions on your hands that will likely compel you to make unhealthy choices that undermine your weight loss goals. For those who tend to get peckish between meals, choosing more high-protein, low-carb snacks can help increase your chances of staying on track without causing you to feel deprived.
High-protein snacks that are also low in carbohydrates can be a great tool for weight loss for many reasons. For one thing, protein is an essential nutrient that helps satiate your appetite, and research shows that high-protein diets can be conducive to weight loss. Feeling full and satisfied helps mitigate the possibility of overeating, which is something that can work against you if you’re trying to lose weight. Additionally, when combined with exercise, protein can also be beneficial in cultivating lean muscle. Likewise, eating more low-carb foods can also encourage your body to convert more stored fats into energy, burning off your excess weight.
Why you should choose high-protein, low-carb snacks for weight loss
“I think a snack can have at least 3 grams of protein and less than around 8 grams of carbs,” says Lauren Manaker, MS, RDN, registered dietitian and author of The First Time Mom’s Pregnancy Cookbook and Fueling Male Fertility.
That said, a food is often considered to be high in a particular nutrient based on the recommended daily value (DV).
“The FDA defines the term ‘high in’ as meeting 20% of the recommended daily value or more,” says Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, FAND, award-winning nutrition expert and Wall Street Journal bestselling cookbook author of Up Your Veggies: Flexitarian Recipes for the Whole Family.
What constitutes a high-protein, low-carb snack?
A clearer measure of what’s best for you can be determined by a healthcare provider based on your unique body chemistry, and oftentimes these determinations are based on a handful of other factors, including your current height and weight.
“The recommendation for protein is 0.36 grams per pound,” explains Amidor. “So, if someone is 150 pounds, that would be 54 grams of protein per day, and about 10 grams of protein for the snack (which can be quite high for a snack).”
“I would recommend combining foods within your snack that provide both protein (plant or animal) and fiber. Healthy fats also help keep you feeling full, so adding a little to snacks can help keep you satisfied, too,” says Amidor. “For weight loss, I recommend snacks stay around 125–150 calories and are composed of at least two of these nutrients (fiber, healthy fat, protein) to help you stay satiated for longer as they take longer to digest or get through the gut.”
To help you get started with stocking up on a delicious variety of high-protein, low-carb snacks, we’ve rounded up a few nutritious dietitian-approved suggestions below—and for more healthy eating tips that can help support your weight loss journey, be sure to check out The Best Healthy Snacks for Weight Loss.
Total carbs per ounce: 7.71 grams
Total protein per ounce: 5.73 grams
“Pistachios are a nutrition powerhouse and one of the lowest-calorie nut options!” says Caroline Thomason, RD, CDCES. “One ounce of pistachios (or about 50 nuts) contains 160 calories, 3 grams of fiber, and 6 grams of protein. They are low in carbohydrates and offer a great energy source for folks who are blood sugar-conscious.”
“If you’re looking for a nut to satisfy your snack cravings and help with your weight loss efforts, pistachios are it!” adds Amy Goodson, MS, RD, CSSD, LD, author of The Sports Nutrition Playbook. “They are one of the highest protein snack nuts providing 6 grams of complete plant-based protein per serving. Pistachios also contain 3 grams of fiber per serving, and 90% of the fat found in pistachios is unsaturated. This nutrient trio of protein, fiber, and fat can help keep you fuller longer after snack time—and did I mention that 49 pistachios are a serving?! You truly feel like you get a full snack that satisfies with all the savory crunch!”
Total carbs per slice: 1 gram
Total protein per slice: 5 grams