Road Trip Snacks: Staying Keto During Summer Travel
Headed on a trip soon and already pondering how you’ll manage to stay keto on the go? Ten years ago, staying low carb during travel was almost certainly a formula for pork rinds, nitrate-laden beef jerky and diet soda. Lucky for you, this list does not include any of those!
It has never been easier to eat keto on the road and believe it or not, there are actually some healthy options to keep you fueled and energized for the adventure without sacrificing taste or your spot in the TSA checkpoint line.
- Guacamole snack packs: Avocados are a superstar of the keto diet. Filled with healthy fats, creamy and versatile, they instantly upgrade any snack. And while you may love whole avocados, let’s face it - cutting one with a plastic knife in the middle seat of a packed flight is not exactly the recipe for making friends! Snack packs of guacamole are here to save you. Perfectly portioned and securely packaged, they can be purchased in pouches or cups and pair well with flax crackers, peppers, celery or just a spoon!
- Nut/seed crackers: There are a number of keto-friendly nut and seed based crackers on the market. Almond flour, coconut flour, flax or a combination can be found in the cracker aisle at most major grocery stores and even big box stores. Rice and potato flour can sometimes be hiding in the ingredient list and could throw you out of ketosis so, be sure to always read the package.
- MCT singles: medium chain triglycerides (MCT) are a type of fat that is easily digested and turned into ketones quickly. MCT oil is often used as a fat supplement on the keto diet, providing a nice boost of energy. It is flavorless, liquid at room temperature and mixes fairly discreetly into beverages like coffee or tea. Single packs of oil or powdered MCT’s are portable and less messy than travelling with a bottle or tub. If putting oil in your beverage does not sound appealing, no worries – you don’t have to miss out on this energy enhancer, see #6 for a great way to enjoy MCT’s.
- Cheese crunch: No, this snack does not involve dehydrating cheese using a contraption bought from an infomercial! These crunchy rounds are a combo of cheese and egg whites. The egg white base makes them higher in protein than you might expect, coming in at just under 1g of protein per round. If you’ve been missing a crunchy, savory cracker, these might be just the thing for you and because of the protein, they’ll tide you over if travel throws off a meal or two.
- Single serve olive & pickle packs: Olives and pickles are now conveniently available in single serve containers. This includes pouches or small plastic containers (similar to applesauce cups). Since vegetables are notoriously difficult to find on the road these are great way to incorporate some veggie servings and boost the salt. Remember, in ketosis, salt is your friend.
- Nut & seed butter packets: Nut butter packets are a great way to boost fat and some protein while on keto. They are particularly good for travel to limit mess and bulk in your suitcase. If you have a favorite nut or seed, chances are there is a butter made out of it – even pure coconut butter! A good rule of thumb for this category of foods is to limit added sugars (even from natural sweeteners like honey or maple syrup). To get a little more nutritional bang for your buck check out the nut butter packets with MCT already mixed in.
- Kale chips: Kale chips have come a long way. They are now available in several variations and seasonings. You can make these pretty easily but they can also be purchased at the grocery store or online. Vegetables tend to be scarce in the airport or on the road, seasoned kale chips can fill this gap and provide added vitamins and minerals. Kale is an excellent source of vitamins A, K and C, if you are making your own “chips” just toss the kale with olive oil, add some sea salt for electrolytes, bake until crispy, then pack in a portable container (preferably something with structure to avoid breakage) and you have yourself a nutrient rich, portable snack.
- Dark chocolate: I bet you weren’t expecting to see this here, right? The truth is, good dark chocolate can be healthier than your average granola bar and certainly more keto friendly! In general, the darker the chocolate, the lower in carbohydrates it will be. This is because darker chocolate has a higher percentage of the actual cocoa solids and fewer additives like milk, sugar, oils, etc. A 90% dark chocolate bar is 90% cocoa solids; this is a good place to start. Once you spot the percentage, flip the package over and check out the fiber and sugar. Although fiber is a carbohydrate, it is not digested and does not factor into the net carb number you want to keep an eye on to stay in ketosis (net carbs = total carbs – fiber and sugar alcohols). If you can, find a bar with less than 4g of net carbs!
- Sparkling water: Sparkling water can be a great low carb soda replacement, especially if you enjoy bubbly beverages. The flavors to choose from are endless - watermelon, key lime, blood orange and my personal favorite, lemon pomegranate. Plain is also an option if the flavors aren’t appealing. For air travel you’ll want to purchase this close to your travel gate to avoid having to throw it away at security.
- Nuts/seeds: Last but not least! Nuts and seeds are another staple of the keto diet and healthy eating in general. They might be classified as the ultimate portable snack because they are available at most travel stops and at the airport, fit nicely in a pocket or purse, and pack a nutrient punch of healthy fat, fiber and protein. While roasted nuts are most commonly available, dry roasted or raw are the best choices.
- Try HighKey Snacks HighKey mini cookies
Eating keto during travel can be easily managed by packing a few snacks with you and knowing what options are available on the road. With a little preparation, you don’t have to go hungry or even sacrifice flavor.
If you prefer to pack light, having one or two things on hand can help avoid hungry decision making (spoiler alert, this does not end well). Before your trip, take some time to scout out your favorites and get them on the shopping list so you’ll be prepared when it’s time to go.
Lindsay Malone, MS, RDN, CSO, LD
Lindsay Malone is a Functional and Integrative Medicine dietitian empowering individuals to take charge of their health with evidenced-based nutrition information.