How to Make Low-Carb Trail Mix

The Perfect On-the-Go or Post-Workout Snack

Trail mix

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Trail mix is a non-perishable, convenient snack that is energy-dense—meaning a lot of calories are packed into a small amount of food. It's meant to provide nourishment during strenuous activity, such as hiking (hence the name).

Some pre-packaged trail mixes contain high carbohydrate ingredients, such as chocolate and dried fruits, so it's important to look at labels if you are trying to stick to a low-carbohydrate eating plan.

Here’s how to make your own trail mix, create the mix of sweet and savory flavors you want, and keep the carbs down.

Ingredients to Include

When creating your own trail mix, it's important to choose healthy but tasty ingredients.

Nuts and Seeds 

Trail mixes tend to have a lot of nuts and seeds, which are excellent foods on a low-carb diet. They are high in heart-healthy fats, low in carbs, and many are high in protein.

Walnuts, Brazil nuts, almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts, pecans, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds are great additions to your trail mix. They are among the lowest in carbs among the nuts and seeds.

Cashews and pistachios have slightly more carbohydrates per ounce. However, all nuts and seeds can be considered low-carb foods. 

You may also want to incorporate salted nuts rather than unsalted which will add more flavor and use these next tips to add a hint of sweetness to your mix. Salted nuts can also help to replace sodium lost through sweat if you are eating trail mix during or post-exercise.

Dried Fruit

Dried fruit is rich in carbohydrates and can often be a good pre- or post-workout snack because it provides energy and carbohydrates to replace glycogen. Those people who engage in heavy physical activity will need more carbohydrates than others.

Another reason for the sweet stuff is flavor, of course. Trail mix wouldn’t really be trail mix without a bit of sweetness in there; it would just be a nut and seed mix.

Tips to Create a Low-Carb Trail Mix

Although dried fruit is rich in carbohydrates and sugar, you can incorporate it into a low-carb trail mix by following a few simple tips.

Watch for Added Sugars

Aim to avoid trail mix that contains fruit such as raisins, Craisins, and blueberries that are sweetened with sugar. When making your own trail mix, use a small amount of unsweetened dried fruit to add flavor, fiber, texture, and color.

Berries such as blueberries and cranberries, which are usually great fruit choices when eating low-carb, almost always have a lot of sugar added when dried and sold commercially. Read ingredient labels before you buy and skip any brands that contain added sugar.

Look for Unsweetened Varieties

Eden Organics makes affordable dried blueberries and cranberries sweetened with apple juice. Unsweetened coconut flakes make a tasty, crunchy addition to trail mix and they are very low-carb.

Other unsweetened dried fruit is possible to find at special health food markets but can be more expensive. One source is the Karen's Naturals company, which freeze-dries vegetables and fruits with nothing added.

Some healthy food stores carry their own products, such as Trader Joe's dried mango, strawberries, and pineapple.

Note that just reading the nutrition facts on some freeze-dried products can be deceiving because the nutritional information is by weight and they are very light since all the water has been removed (unlike the more common dried fruits). For example, a 1.5 oz tub of freeze-dried cranberries is about 3 cups by volume.

Use Smaller Amounts

Depending on the brand you buy, raisins can have up to 176 grams of carbohydrate per cup, however, because they are intense in sweetness and flavor. All you need is a couple of raisins per handful of nuts and seeds for a sweet contrast. Even better than raisins are currants because they are smaller and thus they pack fewer carbs.

Make Your Own

It is possible to make your own dried fruit plain or with added sugar substitute in a dehydrator or oven.

Do Half-and-Half

When grocery shopping or shopping online, look for pre-packaged trail mix and choose the one with the least carbs and the lowest amount of sugar. Then, “dilute” it by mixing a cup of that mix with several cups of your own nuts, seeds, and unsweetened coconut.

An Easy Recipe for Low-Carb Trail Mix

This is just one possibility, of course.

  • 1 cup roasted peanuts
  • 1 cup raw or roasted almonds
  • 1 cup pumpkin or squash seeds (you can toast your own)
  • 2 oz unsweetened coconut
  • 1/2 cup raisins or currants (loosely-packed, i.e. don’t cram in as many as possible)

Nutritional Information

This should make about 16 servings of ¼ cup each. Each serving will have about 13 grams of carbohydrate and about 4.5 grams of fiber. If you make the same mix without the raisins, assuming 14 servings, each will have about 10 grams of carbohydrate and about 4 grams of fiber.

Was this page helpful?
Article Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Rolls BJ. Dietary energy density: Applying behavioural science to weight management. Nutr Bull. 2017;42(3):246-253. doi:10.1111/nbu.12280

  2. Liu G, Guasch-Ferré M, Hu Y, et al. Nut consumption in relation to cardiovascular disease incidence and mortality among patients with diabetes mellitusCirc Res. 2019;124(6):920-929. doi:10.1161/CIRCRESAHA.118.314316

  3. Shafique M, Russell S, Murdoch S, Bell JD, Guess N. Dietary intake in people consuming a low-carbohydrate diet in the UK Biobank. J Hum Nutr Diet. 2018;31(2):228-238. doi:10.1111/jhn.12527

  4. Vliet S van, Beals JW, Martinez IG, Skinner SK, Burd NA. Achieving optimal post-exercise muscle protein remodeling in physically active adults through whole food consumptionNutrients. 2018;10(2). doi:10.3390/nu10020224

  5. Kanter M. High-quality carbohydrates and physical performance: expert panel reportNutr Today. 2018;53(1):35-39. doi:10.1097/NT.0000000000000238

  6. Zhu R, Fan Z, Dong Y, Liu M, Wang L, Pan H. Postprandial glycaemic responses of dried fruit-containing meals in healthy adults: results from a randomised trialNutrients. 2018;10(6). doi:10.3390/nu10060694

  7. U.S. Department of Agriculture. Agricultural Research Service. Raisins, dark, seedless. April 1, 2019.

  8. Fulgoni VL, Painter J, Carughi A. Association of raisin consumption with nutrient intake, diet quality, and health risk factors in US adults: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2001-2012. Food Nutr Res. 2017;61(1):1378567. doi:10.1080/16546628.2017.1378567

  9. U.S. Department of Agriculture. Agricultural Research Service. FoodData Central.