Low carb snacks can be a healthy alternative to the sugary treats your kids (and you) may be used to eating.
In the least, even if you are okay with eating carbs, mixing up your regular snacks can be a good idea.
You will get more variety and avoid snack boredom.
Are Carbs Really the Enemy?
If you are already trying a Paleo or Keto diet, you might want to skip this section and go straight down below to the snack suggestions. If you are simply trying to reduce carbs, you might want to read on for a balanced perspective.
A Balanced Perspective on Carbs
Before you go on a rampage through your kitchen and throw out all the peanut butter cracker packs you bought for the kids, consider the following:
Are carbs all that bad? Do you need to completely wipe carbs out of your diet?
These days, carbohydrates, aka “carbs” for short, are the number one diet enemy.
You should realize that carbohydrates do not need to be completely removed from your diet. However, certain types of carbs should be greatly reduced, if not eliminated altogether.
It seems that in the Western world, and in America in particular, dietary trends go in cycles. For a while, fat was public enemy number one when it came to eating.
Then low fat diets became very popular. And now, fat is good while carbs are “bad.”
Both fat and carbs are two of three macronutrients that the body needs to survive. The third macronutrient is protein.
We can roughly translate “macronutrient” into big nutrient, or important nutrient, or the big kahuna nutrient needed by they body.
Micronutrients include vitamins, antioxidants, and all that other good stuff that our body thrives on.
At any rate, we have now seen two dietary trends demonizing two of the major macronutrients in the body: fat and carbs.
Will there be another dietary trend pushing back on protein?
While it would be unlikely for people to recommend a protein-free diet, given the focus right now on Paleo diets (high protein), it would not be surprising to see a protein backlash coming soon.
The point is, be a little wary about advice that says all carbohydrates are bad. We need carbohydrates to fuel the body, especially the brain.
We Need Good Carbohydrates, Not Bad Carbohydrates
The problem with carbohydrates, at least in America, is that we Americans eat way too much of the bad carbohydrates.
Bad carbohydrates are those that have a high glycemic index. This means that they convert to sugar really quickly in the body. This raises blood sugar too quickly. If you eat too many high glycemic carbs, you can easily gain weight. In the long run, you could start developing metabolic syndrome or worse, end up with type two diabetes.
The reason why people on a Paleo diet lose so much weight so quickly is they cut out all carbs that come from grains. They still get some carbohydrates from fruits, vegetables, and nuts, but they aren’t eating all that white bread and sugar that tend to get so many Americans in trouble with the scale.
The Paleo approach is to just ban all grain-based carbs. If you are on a Paleo diet and it is working for you, great. If not, do not pressure yourself to stop eating all carbs.
What you should do is focus on eating good carbs, if you are going to eat them. You can also lessen your intake of carbs in general, thus reducing the impact of carbs on your weight and blood sugar.
Bad Carbs Make for Bad Snacks
If you are going to eat carbs, then you should eat healthy, whole grains and not refined white flour or sugars.
Bad carbs include:
- White bread
- Sugary sodas
- Cake-like snack treats like Twinkies
- French fries
- Traditional donuts
- Potato chips
- Baked potatoes*
*If you cook potatoes and put them in the fridge for 24 hours, the starch converts into one that is digested much more slowly.
The more bad carbs you have, especially in a snack without any fat or protein, the more glycemic load you are placing on your system. This will raise your blood sugar in spikes and potentially screw up your metabolism. And, you gain weight.
Combining Carbs with Fat or Protein
Eating carbs with good fat and/or protein will slow down the rate at which sugars enter into the bloodstream. This makes carbs a bit less dangerous than if you just had a carbs only snack.
For example, if you eat a snack cake like a Twinkie, that has sugar as its main ingredient and then “high fructose corn syrup” as one of its main secondary ingredients, you really don’t have anything slowing down that sugar as you eat it. You might as well suck on a bunch of Pixy Stix.
Now, if you are too young to know what Pixy Stix are, basically, these were flavored sugar packets put in straws. They were especially popular in the 1960s and 1970s.
The funny thing is, back in the day, kids could eat sugary stuff like this and not get overweight or have other problems for the most part. Why? They were exercising and outside much of the day, and the rest of their meals were less processed and more balanced.
So, this leads us to our next point. You can have some carbs with your snacks, provided you balance them out. You can do this with healthy fats and protein. Or, in a pinch, do some exercise after you eat your Pixy Stix.
Making Your Own Improved Snacks
If you want low carb snacks, you can make your own versions of store-bought snacks.
This brings us back to peanut butter crackers. These are actually not a bad choice for a snack, because the peanut butter has fat and protein to slow the ingestion of the carbs from the crackers.
However, the peanut butter itself usually has some added sugar, and the flour used is usually refined white flour.
Sometimes, in the store, you can find peanut butter crackers made with whole wheat flour and “real” peanut butter. This is a much better store-bought option.
To make a better option at home, use unsweetened organic peanut butter and your favorite whole grain or gluten-free crackers.
This will hopefully give you some ideas about how to take a store-bought, processed food that might have some bad carbs, and create your own version at home that has better carbs.
Ideas and Examples of Low Carb Snacks
Some of these low carb snacks are processed foods that can be bought in the store, but you can also make your own at-home versions.
1. Kale Chips
Kale is like the number one hot veggie these days because it is so nutritious. The kale chips take this health food favorite and try to turn it into something as decadent as potato chips.
Here is the thing: You will still find carbs in kale chips. There will also be some stuff that might not be so great depending on the seasoning.
If you are super picky, you can make your own kale chips at home. Look online for an assortment of recipes.
2. Beef Jerky
No, this is not a vegetarian option, but it is most certainly a high protein option. Beef jerky comes in many varieties and flavors, and you can even make your own at home. Remember, you can also get jerky in other types of meat, such as turkey jerky or pork jerky.
Edamame is the fancy name for soybeans. These are favorite pre-dinner appetizers at Japanese restaurants. You can eat them warm with salt, like at your local sushi place, or buy dried edamame.
Note: Beans still have carbs. They are just not the high-glycemic carbs that you’d find in a Twinkie.
Seaweed is a healthy snack that won’t overload you with sugar. Just be sure to check the package, because the flavoring added could be less healthy.
5. Quinoa Chips
You can find these under different brand names, but quinoa chips are a good alternative if you must have something that is like a potato chip. They will have more protein and fewer bad carbs than your regular chip.
Make Your Own Low Carb Snacks
Low carb snacks can be a great way to curb food cravings without spiking blood sugar. As you can see, there are many options that you can buy at the store.
However, nothing can take the place of you making your own low carb snacks at home.
You might need to take a little extra time, and it requires some creativity, but it can be fun and well worth it.