10 Low-Carb Snacks You Can Find at the Convenience Store

How to eat on the run and still stay on track

woman shopping in convenience store
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It's not unusual to be out running errands and suddenly be hit with hunger pangs. When this happens, your first instinct may be to grab something for a quick boost of energy, such as a muffin, cookie, or candy bar. If you're on a low-carb diet, clearly none of these options will cut it. Luckily, with a little foresight, you can zero in on foods at the convenience store that will not only keep you on track but that also have great nutritional value.

Here we give you 10 low-carb snack options to consider next time you find yourself out and about.

Nuts or Seeds

Nuts are one of the easiest foods to grab on the go and often the best choice overall. Nuts contain plenty of protein, fiber, and healthy fats, so they are as nutritionally satisfying as they are tasty. Peanuts and almonds are usually the best choices with around 3 to 4 grams of effective (net) carbohydrates per ounce. Cashews are starchier and, as such, deliver 8 grams of net carbs per ounce. Go with the plain or raw nuts, if possible, and avoid those with flavorings or a sugar coating.

Sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds are other safe bets with only 2 to 3 grams of net carbs per ounce. Again, choose plain seeds without flavoring and pay attention to how much you eat.

Cheese

Cheese sticks, such as part-skim string cheese, are great snack choices with around 1 gram of net carb per stick. Swiss and cheddar cheese are also good, as is a single-cup serving of low-fat cottage cheese. Avoid flavored cottage cheeses, which may have added sugar.

Raw Vegetables

Snack packs of raw vegetables are becoming far more common in convenience stores. Celery is an excellent choice with just 1 gram of net carb per 3-ounce serving. Three ounces of carrots and broccoli, meanwhile, have 6 and 3 grams of net carbs, respectively.

If you're looking for something to dip your veggies in, skip the ranch dressing and go instead for some peanut butter, non-fat or low-fat Greek yogurt, low-fat cream cheese, or hummus.

Hard-Boiled Eggs

Occasionally, you'll be able to find hard-boiled eggs in the dairy section. These are the ultimate fast food, full of essential vitamins, minerals, and protein. In fact, more than half of the protein will be found in the egg white, along with plenty of B vitamins, vitamin D, iron, copper, selenium, and zinc. 

One hard-boiled egg will weigh in with only 77 calories and around 5 grams of fat. Compare that to your average 80-gram protein bar which can set you back 330 calories with around 10 grams of fat. As for carbs, expect little more than 0.5 gram per egg.

Cold Cuts

Cold cuts are great to nibble with a boiled egg or to wrap around a celery stick or piece of cheese. Whether you choose lean cuts of ham or turkey or go for deli slices of salami or pepperoni, you'll only be faced with around 1 or 2 grams of net carb per 100-gram (3.5-ounce) serving. That's a lot of flavor for just a couple of carbs.

Jerky and Sausages

Beef or turkey jerky are mainstays of the convenience store experience, as are dried sausage sticks such as Slim Jims. While no one is going to profess that they're the healthiest foods in the world, they have far less fat and calories than you might expect.

A 28-gram stick of Slim Jim will set you back around 40 calories with only 3 grams of fat. A 20-ounce serving of beef jerky is slightly higher at 88 calories and 5 grams of fat. Of the three, turkey jerky may be the healthiest choice with 89 calories and no fat.

Most impressively, each has between 2 to 3 grams of net carbs per serving. Still, check for the sugar content as some jerky products are pre-soaked in maple syrup and other natural sweeteners.

Pork Rinds

Pork rinds, also known as chicharrones, are another convenience store mainstay. Although pork rinds may sound unhealthy, their puffed size means that you will only be consuming around 150 calories for a single-serving pack. And, depending on how the pork rinds were fried, most of the fat will usually be monounsaturated with only around one-third of it being saturated.

Kale Chips

As much as you might crave chomping into a packet of Lay's or Cheetos, there is really no store-bought chip that fits the low-carb bill with one exception. Kale chips are not only becoming commonplace on convenience store shelves, they can be surprisingly low in carbs. While some brands are clearly better than others, kale chips from companies like Curt's Classics deliver as little as 10 grams of net carbs per serving.

Beverages

Finding a low-carb beverage in the convenience store is far easier than it has ever been. Some of the best options include unsweetened tea or coffee (0 carbs), diet sodas (0 carbs), coconut water (9 grams of net carbs), unsweetened vegetable juice (11 grams), and plain low-fat milk (11 grams). Plain sparkling water is also a no-brainer and may be enough to satisfy your pangs until you get home.

By contrast, avoid vitamin water, which contains 32 grams of net carbs per 12-ounce serving, and energy drinks which have around 34 grams of net carbs per 8.4-ounce serving.

Hot Dogs

This is a last-resort item if there's nothing else in the store you can eat and provided that you're willing to ditch the bun. Despite the bad rap they have gotten, hot dogs are perfectly acceptable in a pinch, delivering 5 grams of protein with only 2 grams of net carbs.

While high in sodium and cholesterol, hot dogs are a far better option than a packet of potato chips (15 grams of net carbs) or a store-bought brownie (21 grams of net carbs) if you're on a low-carb diet.

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