Keto Basics: How to Snack Nutritiously on a Ketogenic Diet
By Ginger Hultin, MS, RDN, integrative nutrition expert, cookbook author, and consultant dietitian who works with Clif Bar & Company.
The ideas and suggestions written below are provided for general educational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice or care. Always seek the advice of a physician or other qualified health provider before beginning any physical fitness or health- and nutrition related activity.
When it comes to snacking, we all want snacks in flavors we crave with the nutrition we want, regardless of our different dietary needs. People with specific dietary preferences can sometimes struggle to find snacks that meet their needs, and that’s why LUNA® created LUNA® Keto Brownie Bites, a tasty snack fit for a low-carb lifestyle.
What Is “Keto”?
“Keto” refers to ketosis, a state that the body reaches when a low amount of carbohydrates (or “carbs” for short) are consumed. The point at which the body reaches ketosis can be different for every person and the amount of carbohydrate intake necessary to reach and maintain ketosis may not be the same for everyone.
In ketosis, the body burns fat instead of carbohydrates for energy to fuel the brain and muscles. The reason it’s called ketosis is because in the absence of carbohydrates, the body is forced to turn fat into compounds called “ketone bodies” for energy.
While there isn’t a single definition for the ketogenic diet, there are some general principles. Typically, the keto diet is low carb and high fat, with moderate amounts of protein. Specific intake requirements vary from person to person, but carbs are often limited to ≤50g of “net carbs” per day (more on this below), and up to 80% of calories may come from fat.1
Which Foods Are “Keto”?
Individual diets may vary, but below are a few examples of “keto-friendly” foods:
- Vegetables: Non-starchy vegetables like leafy greens, crucifers (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, etc.), celery, peppers, cucumber, and summer squash like zucchini, tomato, and eggplant
- Fruit: High-fiber fruit like berries and melons
- Functional fats: Nuts, seeds, nut and seed butters, avocadoes, olives, and olive oil
- Animal- and plant-based protein: Meat and poultry, seafood, dairy, eggs, soy (tofu, tempeh, edamame), nuts, and nut butters
- Sweeteners: Stevia, sugar alcohols (e.g., erythritol), and monk fruit
What Are Net Carbs and How Are They Calculated?
Because keto is a low-carb way of eating, calculating the amount of carbohydrate in food is common practice.
The term “net carbs” refers to carbohydrates that are digested and used by the body for energy. Since fiber serves as “roughage” and isn’t digested or absorbed like other types of carbohydrates, it gets subtracted from the total carbohydrate quantity in a food. Similarly, sugar alcohols also get subtracted.
Here’s a simple calculation to use:
Net Carbs = Total Carbohydrates − Dietary Fiber − Sugar Alcohols
For example, the new LUNA Keto Brownie Bites have 6g net carbs per package:
6 Net Carbs = 19g Total Carbohydrates − 11g Dietary Fiber − 2g Sugar Alcohols
What Makes a Nutritious Keto Snack?
Here are some general guidelines to keep in mind when seeking out keto-friendly snacks:
- Wholesome nutrition: Choose foods that contain a variety of vitamins, minerals, protein, and fiber. LUNA Keto Brownie Bites have 6g of plant-based protein and are an excellent source of fiber*
- Flavorful ingredients: Choose snacks you enjoy eating. These new brownie bites come in three crave-worthy flavors — Walnut Fudge, Chocolate Peanut Butter, and Chocolate Mint
- Perfectly portioned: Look for snacks that are about 100-200 calories. LUNA Keto Brownie Bites have 140-150 calories and are scored into four pieces that can easily be broken into the perfect bite and enjoyed on the go
- Meets your low-carb dietary preferences: Look for snacks that have 3-10g net carbs per serving. For example, the new LUNA Keto Brownie Bites have 6g of net carbs per package and 0g added sugar**
- Aligns with your values: Dietary preferences can also include priorities for sustainability and rights for the treatment of farmers. LUNA Keto Brownie Bites are made with Rainforest Alliance Certified cocoa. Rainforest Alliance is a nonprofit organization dedicated to working toward equal rights and gender equality for farmers
*Contains 8-9g total fat per serving.
**Not a low-calorie food. Contains 4g sugar, 140-150 calories, and 2g sugar alcohol per serving.
Nutritious On-the-Go Keto-Friendly Snacks
Keto snacking doesn’t have to be a challenge! Here are some examples of sweet and savory nutritious keto-friendly snack ideas. Keep in mind that while the following snacks are fit for a low-carb lifestyle, you don’t have to be “keto” to enjoy them:
- LUNA Keto Brownie Bites: Inspired by classic brownie combinations, LUNA Keto Brownie Bites have a soft-baked texture and are available in three indulgent flavors: Walnut Fudge, Chocolate Peanut Butter, and Chocolate Mint. They contain 6g of net carbs, 6g plant protein, 0g of added sugar,* and an excellent source of fiber.**
*Not a low-calorie food. Contains 4g sugar, 140-150 calories and 2g sugar alcohol per serving.
**Contains 8-9g total fat per serving.
- Fresh berries: Raspberries, strawberries, or blueberries
- Keto “fat bombs”: Prepackaged or homemade energy bites often made with cream cheese, coconut, or nut butter with keto-friendly mix-ins like cocoa, seeds, cinnamon, and sweeteners.
- Low-carb granola: Typically made with nuts and seeds, this cereal-like combination can make a quick and easy snack.
- Kale chips, seaweed snacks, and dehydrated veggies like zucchini, eggplant, or cucumber
- Celery sticks with a cream cheese spread
- Jerky (beef, turkey, salmon, tofu, or mushroom)
- Cucumber slices topped with smoked salmon
- Pepper strips dipped in guacamole
- Nut and seed trail mix: walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, pecans, pistachios, peanuts, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds
- Hard-boiled eggs
- Cheese crisps or string cheese
- Premade egg, tuna, or salmon salad
Remember, no matter your dietary needs, there are delicious and nutritious snack options available for everyone.
- Watanabe M, Tozzi R, Risi R, et al. Beneficial effects of the ketogenic diet on nonalcoholic fatty liver disease: A comprehensive review of the literature. Obes Rev. 2020;21(8):e13024. doi:10.1111/obr.13024