Did you ever grab a snack and then feel hungrier after eating it? As humans, we’ve been wired to keep eating when food is available. That is why it is important to choose snacks carefully.
Some will stimulate your appetite, and others will satisfy it. In this post, I show you what to look out for and share the low carb snacks that actually work to stop hunger and cravings.
Low Carb Snacks to Stop Cravings: Eat This, Not This…
- Swap the sweetened low-carb snacks for a more savory or hearty snack, like cheese or a beef stick.
- Trade a bar (i.e., protein, low carb, or keto bar) for hard-boiled eggs.
- Swap a low carb drink for a solid snack, like raw almonds or other low-carb nuts.
Low Carb Snacks That Actually Stop Cravings [Video]
In this video, you will learn…
- Low carb snacks options that help subdue cravings!
- How to take the Glycemic Index into consideration when choosing snacks.
- Additional tips on following a low-carb diet.
Low Carb Popularity – Good and Bad
Low-carb diets are nothing new, but in recent years they have grown in popularity, partly because they are so effective for weight loss. One of the reasons weight loss happens is because low carb, high-fat foods naturally quiet hunger thanks to the fact that they digest slowly and stabilize your blood sugar.
However, the popularity of the diet has led to an influx of low-carb and keto-friendly snacks and drinks that can actually stimulate your appetite. There are three things to look out for:
1. Sweetened treats
We’ve been trained that a snack should be sweet. However, it will benefit you if you move away from that thinking and look for more savory snacks. Here’s why. We all know that on a low-carb diet, sugar is the first thing to go.
There are many non-caloric sugar substitutes on the market, and they should be fine. Right? No calories, no carbs, no harm, no foul. Unfortunately, that is not a true belief for a few reasons.
Sugar-Free is Not Care-Free
When food is altered to make it sugar-free, it can still have a glycemic index. That means that it causes a rise in your blood sugar.
One way this can happen is with the addition of a food additive like maltodextrin. Maltodextrin is often added alongside other artificial sweeteners to make sure the texture of the food is appealing.
The problem is that maltodextrin has a glycemic index of anywhere from 85 to 136, depending on the source. For comparison sake, the glycemic index of sugar is around 65.
Cephalic Phase Insulin Response
Another thing to consider if you are looking for a sweetened low-carb or keto snack is that there is a phenomenon known as the cephalic phase insulin response.
The word “cephalic” refers to your head, so plainly stated, this is an insulin response that is all in your head and has nothing to do with the glucose level in your blood. The response is triggered by nothing more than holding something sweet in your mouth.
Intriguing studies have been performed that asked participants to swish different non-caloric sweetened solutions around in their mouth and then spit them out. They did not swallow the solution, yet when their blood was drawn after holding the taste in their mouths, their blood insulin levels went up, which could block fat loss (1) (2).
Lose Your Sweet Tooth
One more issue with using sweetened low carb snacks may have the most impact on your overall success, and that is the fact that you are continuing to feed your sweet tooth. This is a problem because sweetness has a powerful mental and physical pull.
When you continuously have sweet things in your diet, your taste buds and brain chemistry continue to desire sweetness, and this is exactly what we are trying to avoid.
The sweetness will stimulate your appetite in the short run, and it will keep your sweet tooth alive in the long run. Those factors will greatly increase your risk of falling back into your old high-carb lifestyle.
Bottom line on sweetened treats
The bottom line is that you will be much happier with your results if you swap the sweetened low-carb snacks for a more savory or hearty snack, like cheese or a beef stick. These types of snacks keep hunger away because they give your body both fat and protein without the carbs.
That combination will stabilize your blood sugar and digest slowly, so you can make it to your next meal. One thing to watch for is that the beef stick you choose does not have added sugar.
If you buy beef sticks from your local deli, ask if there is sugar included and check the ingredient list of easy-to-find commercial brands like Slim Jim that may contain corn syrup and added carbohydrates.
As you move along your low-carb journey, it is surprising how many foods you encounter that you would never suspect to have hidden sugar or carbohydrates added to them. This brings me to the next thing that you want to watch for, which is hidden carbs.
2. Hidden Carbs
Protein bars are something that I am often asked about. They have a reputation for being a healthy and acceptable snack when you are on a diet. The challenge with protein bars is that if they taste good, they likely contain a surprisingly high amount of carbohydrates or artificial sweeteners.
You don’t want to put blind trust into protein bars. You need to read the label. I will add that unless a person is working out intensely, fighting an illness or has other special needs, a moderate intake of protein works best, making protein bars unnecessary.
What about bars that are advertised as being low carb or keto friendly? Here again, you need to be aware of the potential pitfalls. Manufacturers often use tricks to bring down the net carb count. One of the tricks is to add sugar alcohols because they can be subtracted along with the fiber in the bar to lower the net carbs.
Net Carbs = Total Carbs – Fiber – Sugar Alcohols
If you are eating a bar with words that end in -ol, like maltitol or sorbitol, then the bar contains sugar alcohols. They can cause some people stomach upset, but in and of themselves, sugar alcohols are not evil.
However, some have a glycemic index, which, if you remember, is the way we measure how much the food can raise your blood sugar. An example of a common sugar alcohol is maltitol. It has a glycemic index of 35. On the glycemic scale, that’s low, but it is not a zero effect as you might expect from a sugar substitute.
The bottom line here is that it is much simpler and safer to forget the bars and eat whole-food snacks. For instance, if you swapped a low-carb bar for 2 hard-boiled eggs, you’d get about the same number of calories, about three times the healthy fats, a similar amount of protein with only a trace amount of carbs.
Not only that, but the eggs will also take away your hunger thanks to their great mix of fat and protein. In contrast, the hidden carbs and sweetness in the bars may stimulate your appetite.
3. Low-Carb Drink
Even if you find a low carb snack that is low in total carbs, with a good amount of fat and protein. If it is a drink, you may be disappointed in how well it stops your cravings and hunger.
Liquids require much less digestion than solid foods, so they will not stay in your system and keep hunger away as long. The lower hunger satisfaction that we get from drinking calories has been demonstrated in studies that show that liquids do not suppress the hunger hormones as effectively as solid foods (3).
You will find that a solid snack, like raw almonds or other low-carb nuts, satisfies cravings and keeps hunger away much longer than a low carb drink.
If cutting cravings is the goal, make sure you buy raw, nuts, not flavored. The flavored and roasted varieties will likely backfire for you and stimulate your appetite due to the added salt, fat, and carbs that act together to increase their addictive nature.
The main takeaway when it comes to low carb snacks is that if weight loss is your goal, you’ll be happiest with your results if you fill up at mealtime and avoid snacking altogether.
However, life gets hectic, and sometimes we need a little something to push us through to our next meal. It is tempting to look for sweetness, but once you’ve eaten a sweet treat, you’ll have to employ some willpower to avoid overeating.
Make your life easier by choosing whole, unprocessed, unsweetened snacks with a good mix of protein and fat. Here is a list of 100 low-carb food choices! Thank you for reading and have a wonderful week!
(1) Dhillon, Jaapna, Janice Y. Lee, and Richard D. Mattes. “The cephalic phase insulin response to nutritive and low-calorie sweeteners in solid and beverage form.” Physiology & behavior 181 (2017): 100-109.
(2) Just, Tino, et al. “Cephalic phase insulin release in healthy humans after taste stimulation?.” Appetite 51.3 (2008): 622-627.
(3) Chambers, Lucy, Keri McCrickerd, and Martin R. Yeomans. “Optimising foods for satiety.” Trends in Food Science & Technology 41.2 (2015): 149-160.
About the Author:
Dr. Becky Gillaspy, DC graduated Summa Cum Laude with research honors from Palmer College of Chiropractic in 1991.