High protein low carb foods

Eating a low-carb diet? Reach for these 15 protein-packed foods

“It’s an important nutrient, helping to fill you up, and eating protein regularly throughout the day will help keep your energy levels up,” says Chris Mohr, Ph.D., RD, of MohrResults. Because protein slows the digestion of carbohydrates, it prolongs the release of carbs and, thus, the energy you get from those carbs. “Including protein in your snacks will help you fight the afternoon slumps and, of course, fuel those (hopefully) hard-working muscles,” adds Mohr. Plus, if you’re trying to lose weight—or just keep your weight where it is—a protein-packed snack may be quite helpful.

15 High-Protein, Low-Carb Snacks to Add to Your Grocery List

A protein-packed snack will help keep you feeling full until it’s time for your next meal.

Brierley is a dietitian nutritionist, content creator and strategist, and avid mental health advocate. She is co-host and co-creator of the Happy Eating Podcast, a podcast that breaks down the connection between food and mental wellness. Brierley previously served as Food and Nutrition Director for Cooking Light magazine and the Nutrition Editor at EatingWell magazine. She holds a master’s degree in Nutrition Communications from the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University. Her work has appeared in Better Homes and Gardens, Southern Living, Real Simple, Livestrong.com, TheKitchn and more.

Elizabeth Ward is a registered dietitian and award-winning nutrition communicator and writer. She has authored or co-authored 10 books for consumers about nutrition at all stages of life.

Eating a protein-rich snack might be the key to having your snacks actually fill you up.

“It’s an important nutrient, helping to fill you up, and eating protein regularly throughout the day will help keep your energy levels up,” says Chris Mohr, Ph.D., RD, of MohrResults. Because protein slows the digestion of carbohydrates, it prolongs the release of carbs and, thus, the energy you get from those carbs. “Including protein in your snacks will help you fight the afternoon slumps and, of course, fuel those (hopefully) hard-working muscles,” adds Mohr. Plus, if you’re trying to lose weight—or just keep your weight where it is—a protein-packed snack may be quite helpful.

Here are 15 healthy, lower-carb foods we recommend snacking on that also deliver a solid portion of protein.

1. Pistachios

Protein: 6g
Carbohydrate: 8g

With nearly 6 grams of plant-based protein and 3 grams of fiber in a 1-ounce serving (about 50 nuts), pistachios will help you stay fuller longer. “As a busy mama on the go, that’s a big win for me!” says Shannon Garcia, M.S., RD, of KISS in the Kitchen Blog. “I like a lot of flavor in my snacks, so I’m loving Wonderful Pistachios’ No Shells flavors—Chili Roasted and Honey Roasted! No Shells are quick, easy and convenient, and these bold flavors help keep better-for-you snacking interesting. Plus, they’re one of the lowest-calorie snack nuts, so you get more nuts per serving than most.”

2. Eggland’s Best Hard-Cooked Peeled Eggs

Protein: 6g
Carbohydrate: 0g

Offering nearly 6 grams of protein per egg, Eggland’s Best Hard-Cooked Peeled Eggs are the perfect on-the-go snack to keep you energized throughout the day. “In addition to a protein boost, they also contain 25% less saturated fat, 10 times more vitamin E and double the omega-3s compared to ordinary eggs,” says Mohr. “The best part? They’re already cooked and peeled, making them über convenient for me and my family.”

3. BelGioioso Fresh Mozzarella Snacking Cheese

Protein: 5g

These mini mozzarella balls come pre-portioned in individual 1-ounce servings (or about 3 mini balls). This portable, on-the-go snack delivers 5 grams of protein and less than 1 gram of carbohydrate, all for just 70 calories. Eat them as is, or pair them with nuts or jerky for an extra hit of protein without too many carbs. They’re also delicious with tomatoes and basil for a Caprese-style salad.

4. Hippeas Chickpea Puffs, Vegan White Cheddar

Protein: 4g
Carbohydrate: 15g

These baked puffs offer 4 grams of plant protein and 15 grams of carbohydrates per serving (which is 1 ounce). “They are my favorite high-protein snack when I need something crunchy and salty on long afternoons working,” says Katie Andrews, M.S., RD, of Wellness by Katie. The puffs are made with chickpea flour and offer 3 grams of fiber per serving, which helps to prevent quick blood sugar spikes.

5. Cottage Cheese

Protein: 24g
Carbohydrate: 11g

Surprisingly high in protein (at about 24 grams per cup), cottage cheese also gives you healthy amounts of calcium. “I like to add fresh salsa from the refrigerated section of the grocery store to the top of my cottage cheese. That’s my kind of snack,” says Tiffany Davis, chef and co-owner of Nourish Foods Co. If you’re in the mood for something on the sweeter side, cottage cheese also pairs nicely with fresh fruit such as berries, pineapple and mango.

6. The New Primal Meat Sticks

Protein: 6g
Carbohydrate: 1g

Protein-packed and full of crunch, these Meat Sticks are a great snack: each stick offers 6 grams of protein and is Whole30-approved (if that’s your thing!). “I’ve been enjoying their unique crunch when I want a break from chewy jerky. I also love the simple ingredient list and it’s such a convenient shelf-stable high-protein snack on the go,” says Garcia.

7. Frozen Edamame

Protein: 9g
Carbohydrate: 7g

Edamame is perfect solo as a snack, packed into kids’ lunches or added to salads—and there are about 9 grams of protein and 4 grams of fiber in a 1/2-cup serving (and around 7 grams carbs). “You really cannot go wrong with this affordable protein source that is now found in every grocery freezer!” says Andrews.

8. Sargento Sweet Balanced Breaks

Protein: 7g
Carbohydrate: 12g

These portable, preportioned cheese, nut and dried fruit combos are quite delicious—plus Balanced Breaks clock in at under 200 calories and provide 7 grams of protein and about 12 grams of carbohydrate (give or take a few depending on the nut and fruit combo).

9. Siggi’s Vanilla and Strawberry Lower-Sugar Yogurt

Protein: 14g
Carbohydrate: 4g

Yogurt is an excellent go-to, portable, protein-rich snack, but can sometimes be sneaky with hidden added sugar. “I’m so thankful, though, that Siggi’s now offers ‘lower sugar’ flavors, so I don’t have to waste even a second reading labels,” says Andrews. Pick up a multipack of these particular versions and you’ll get 14 grams of protein and only 4 grams of carbohydrate in a single-serve container.

10. Kaimana Teriyaki Salmon Jerky

Protein: 12g
Carbohydrate: 0g

Any type of salmon jerky will be protein-rich and relatively low in carbs, so long as there’s not too much of a sugary-sweet flavor. Kaimana Jerky does a great job of keeping all of their flavors at zero carbs per serving, yet you get 12 grams of protein per serving.

11. Perfect Bar

Protein: 12-17g
Carbohydrate: 24-27g

This refrigerated protein bar comes in a variety of flavors and is perfect for breakfast or a snack. For the biggest protein hit, though, the peanut butter flavor will provide around 17 grams of protein per bar. The others vary between 12 and 17 grams. Each bar also gives you a nice mix of micronutrients, thanks to the whole food powder that’s added to each. They tend to also have slightly more carbs than some of the other snacks on this list—delivering between 24 and 27 grams per bar.

12. Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides

Protein: 9g
Carbohydrate: 3g

One scoop will give you 9 grams of protein and no added sugar—plus a dose of vitamin C, hyaluronic acid and, of course, collagen. To really keep your carbs at a minimum, blend the collagen powder into a latte using low-carb, plant-based milk like almond, coconut or cashew. A cup of whole cow’s milk, though, will give you another 8 grams of protein and about 12 grams of carbohydrates.

13. Trader Joe’s Mini Brie Bites

Protein: 4g
Carbohydrate: 1g

“Single-serving cheese is nothing new, but these single-serve Brie bites elevate the typical cheese stick experience,” says Andrews. Each mini bite has 4 grams of protein, 1 gram of carbohydrate and only 70 calories. To keep carbs in check, pair a bite with a low-carb fruit like berries, melon or watermelon, for a satisfying snack.

14. Biena Roasted Chickpeas Snacks

Protein: 4-6g
Carbohydrate: 14-18g

“This is my favorite brand for both the story (female-founded and run!) and the product (high-protein, high-fiber, low-saturated-fat snacks in a multitude of flavors),” says Andrews. The brand has 6 different flavors—Sea Salt, Honey Roasted, Rockin’ Ranch, Lil’ Bit of Everything, Barbeque and Habanero. Each serving (regardless of flavor) has 4 to 6 grams of protein and 5 to 6 grams of fiber—two nutrients that’ll keep you feeling fuller, longer. Carbs range from 14 grams to 18 per serving.

15. Mint Chocolate RxBar

Protein: 12g
Carbohydrate: 23g

These shelf-stable bars are more like a mini-meal, delivering 210 calories, 12 grams of protein and 23 grams of carbohydrates in a bar. “But it is my go-to when I’m craving something chocolatey or when I need to pick up something at the airport,” says Andrews. There are 5 grams of fiber in here as well, which helps fill you up, in addition to the protein.

Eating a low-carb diet? Reach for these 15 protein-packed foods

If you want a protein-packed meal, but are keeping a close eye on carbs, fill your plate with these delicious options.

Eggs pack in protein with little carbs. Make it an omelet with low-carb veggies like mushrooms and spinach for a filling breakfast.

Eggs pack in protein with little carbs. Make it an omelet with low-carb veggies like mushrooms and spinach for a filling breakfast. iko636 / Getty Images/iStockphoto

May 23, 2022, 9:18 PM UTC / Updated May 26, 2023, 7:48 PM UTC

Protein is one of the three important macronutrients that provide us with calories (the other two being carbohydrates and fat.) It’s used in many bodily functions including cell maintenance and repair, blood clotting and the production of antibodies. It’s the primary component of many body tissues such as skin, hair and muscle. Protein is also digested more slowly than carbohydrates, which helps increase feelings of satiety — aka satisfying your hunger.

Protein can be found in a variety of foods including fish, poultry, meats, legumes, soy, nuts, seeds and dairy. Lesser amounts of protein can also be found in whole grains and vegetables. If you are following a low-carb diet, but looking to up your protein intake to build muscle, recover from an injury or aid in weight loss, there are many options to choose from. Below is a list of some of my favorite high-protein, low-carb choices.


This lean protein is a go-to protein source for good reason. A 4-ounce serving of chicken will give you 26 grams of protein for a minimal 120 calories (and no carbs!). Chicken is also versatile and goes with almost any type of cuisine.

Cottage cheese

In an age when enthusiasm for cultured dairy is pretty high, cottage cheese is making a comeback. A 1/2-cup serving of cottage cheese contains about 100 calories, 12 grams of protein and 5 grams of carbs. It is also a versatile ingredient that can be used as the base for a sweet or savory meal, and makes a great dip for veggies.


Who doesn’t love eggs? They’re an easy, nutrient dense and wallet friendly way to pack in protein, as well as a dose of satiating fat, with trace amounts of carbohydrates. With 6 grams of protein per egg, you can easily get a hefty dose through a simple, super healthy two-egg breakfast with sautéed greens.

Grass-fed beef

A 4-ounce serving of grass-fed beef has 22 grams of protein and no carbohydrates. Grass-fed and free-range means that the meat comes from cows that graze freely on grass for their entire lives. This kind of beef is the best choice, thanks to a healthier fat profile and more antioxidants. The meat from cattle that eat only grass contains two to three times the amount of conjugated linoleic acids (CLAs) compared to grain-finished beef. CLAs are healthy fats associated with reduced cancer risk, reduced cardiovascular disease risk, and better cholesterol levels.

Hemp seeds

Three tablespoons of hemp seeds contain about 160 calories, 10 grams of protein and just 2 gram of carbs. You’ll also get 240 milligrams of potassium and 15-20% of your daily iron needs (depending on the brand). It’s hard to find that much nutrient density in a single food. Hemp has a beautiful ratio of the common omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, but it is also loaded with the less commonly found stearidonic acid (SDA) and gamma linoleic acid (GLA). You need these fatty acids to fight inflammation and protect your heart and immune system. They are a simple and nutritious addition to your morning smoothie or oatmeal.

Peanut butter

I never met a nut butter I didn’t love. Whether you’re a peanut butter lover, an almond butter addict or a cashew connoisseur, opt for natural nut butters made from just one ingredient: nuts! One, 2-tablespoon serving puts about 8 grams of protein on your plate with 6 grams of carbs.

Pumpkin seeds

Pumpkin seeds are a nutrient-packed ingredient to use all year long — not just after you carve a pumpkin! These small, but mighty, seeds pack in 9 grams of protein in a 1-ounce serving and also contain important minerals such as zinc, magnesium and iron. They are also are a good source of healthy fats and add a nice crunch to just about any dish for only 4 grams of carbs per shelled serving.


This fish is a delicious source of omega-3’s (important for metabolism!) and protein, with about 17 grams per 3-ounce serving and no carbohydrates. When purchasing salmon, make sure you opt for the wild-caught variety. It’s sustainable and can actually provide more nutritional benefit than farm-raised options. Salmon is also a protein source that can be quick and easy to get on the table on a hectic weeknight with a recipe like this parchment-baked salmon.


This green algae is popular with wellness advocates — and for good reason. Gram-for-gram, spirulina may be the single most nutritious food on the planet. The quality of the protein in spirulina is considered excellent; comparable to eggs. It contains all the essential amino acids that you need: You’ll find 4 grams in a tablespoon of dried spirulina (and less than 2 grams of carbs). It has a strong flavor, so mask it in a smoothie — it also adds a fun blue hue!


Not only is tempeh a source of gut-friendly probiotics, but it’s also packed with plant-based protein. Try experimenting with new meal options, like a tempeh breakfast hash, tempeh bacon or tempeh stir-fry. Not familiar with the ingredient? Check out this guide to tempeh. You’ll get about 15 grams of protein and 13 grams of carbs in a 4-ounce serving.


Looking to switch up your usual egg scramble? Try tofu. I love sautéing crumbled tofu with colorful veggies such as bell peppers, onions and spinach for a high-protein, egg-free breakfast. Don’t forget to add flavor your tofu with spices such as turmeric, black pepper, cumin and garlic. Tofu contains about 20 grams of protein and less than 4 grams of carbs in a 1/2-cup serving.


All yogurt serves up protein, but strained options like Greek yogurt or Icelandic skyr are the highest in protein. Opt for an unsweetened version to avoid added sugars, then incorporate your own natural sweeteners, like fresh fruit and cinnamon. You’ll get more than 15 grams of protein and 5 grams of carbs per ¾-cup serving, depending on the brand.

Black beans

Beans contain more carbohydrates, but they are a great way to get in plant protein and fiber. A ½-cup serving contains 7.5 grams of protein and 7.5 grams of fiber and 20 grams of carbs. They’re also jam-packed with phytonutrients including anthocyanins and quercetin, both of which act as antioxidants. Black beans do contain more carbohydrates than other forms of protein but that comes with all that fiber and additional nutrients. Definitely worth adding to your plate!


Similar to black beans, this legume is higher in carbs than other protein options, but it’s also packed with protein, fiber and antioxidants. These little legumes are a great addition to soups and salads, especially if you’re trying to reduce your intake of animal protein. They contain about 7–9 grams of protein per ½-cup serving and 20 grams of carbs.


Lentils are a no-brainer for those looking to up their plant-protein consumption (which really should be all of us). Unlike animal proteins that deliver saturated fat — the type of fat that can raise our bad LDL cholesterol — plant-based proteins like lentils are free of saturated fat. Again, this option is higher in carbohydrates but also dietary fiber, which is critical for stabilizing blood-sugar levels as well as (you guessed it!) helping to lower bad LDL cholesterol levels. A 1-cup serving of cooked lentils will provide 18 grams of protein with 40 grams of carbs.

Keri Glassman, MS, RD, CDN, is a renowned nutritionist, healthy cooking expert and wellness thought-leader. She is the founder and CEO of Nutritious Life, a lifestyle and media company devoted to helping individuals discover and live their most nutritious (and happiest!) lives. Follow Keri on Instagram @nutritiouslifeofficial.