What’s one of the first things you think about when you hear the question, “want to see a movie tonight?” Sure, maybe you ponder what good cinematic adventures are out in theaters lately, but for some of us there is one other thing that crosses our mind. Yep, that’s right, snacks. And not just any snack. The snack that been popularized by generations of movie-goers alike — the satiating, salty snack that is popcorn.

What is Popcorn and Why Isn’t it Low Carb or Keto Friendly?

Popcorn, a member of the corn family, is a cereal grain that resembles the appearance of corn on the cob. Popcorn has three components — the endosperm, germ and pericarp (also called bran). The endosperm is what makes up the carbohydrate content of the popcorn, being made up of mainly starch granules. This starch provides energy for the germ, also called the kern. The bran (the most outer part of the shell) is made of cellulose, a substance that makes up the majority of plant cell walls.

Once planted, a popcorn seed will begin to grow around seven days and pops out of the soil within ten. The moisture in the soil is what causes the popcorn sed to start growing in the first place.

Remember in elementary school when you learned about photosynthesis? Well that information is sure coming in handy right about now. Once sprouted, the leaves of the popcorn plant are able to absorb sunlight. These leaves also contain chlorophyll, which when combined with carbon dioxide in the air, produces sugar. This sugar builds more leaves and roots, creating more ears of popcorn. Who knew that science class would come to be so useful?

The popcorn is then harvested and taken to be processed. The popcorn kernels are moved over a screen to be cleaned and polished. After this step, the kernels are ready for packaging. Seems simple enough, right?

Without any additives, popcorn is actually a much healthier alternative than most snacks. One cup of air-popped popcorn contains a total of 31 calories. These calories include barely any fat, six grams of carbohydrates, five grams of net carbs, one gram of fiber and one gram of protein. Unfortunately, most processed popcorn you see today is filled with harmful oils and other artificial substances to increase its taste.

Not to mention how quickly the carbs can add up. I mean, have you ever just had one cup of popcorn in a sitting? Let’s be honest with ourselves.

4 Low Carb Substitutes for Popcorn

Going overboard on the amount of popcorn you eat in a sitting is not unheard of, but can be rather tempting for individuals following a low carb or keto diet. If you want to indulge in a snack without worrying about your net carb count or getting kicked out of ketosis, there may be better options to go with. So what are some low carb substitutes for this salty go-to snack?

  1. Nuts
  2. Jerky
  3. Cheese Crackers
  4. Pork Rinds

#1: Nuts

Low Carb Popcorn Substitutes

Nuts are a very popular snack in general among keto dieters and the overall population as well. However, not all nuts are created equal. And some happen to have way more carbs than others. So what are some of the top low carb nuts to choose from? The best nuts for the keto diet include pecans, brazil nuts and macadamia nuts.

For a one ounce serving, pecans contain a total of 196 calories including 20 grams of fat, about one gram of net carbs and about two and a half grams of protein. They also contain key vitamins and minerals including vitamin A, vitamin B, vitamin E, folic acid, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and zinc.

Brazil nuts are another high fat, low carb nut that is sure to keep you in ketosis while chowing down on an ounce or two. Brazil nuts contain 186 calories per one ounce including 19 grams of fat, one and a half grams of net carbs and just around four grams of protein. These nuts are packed with selenium, thiamine, copper and magnesium.

Macadamia nuts are another key nut that is keto friendly and abundant in healthy fats. It’s even one of the nuts found in Perfect Keto Keto Butter. One ounce of macadamia nuts contains a total of 204 calories including 21 grams of fat, one and a half grams of net carbs and two grams of protein. They are a strong source of key vitamins and minerals including thiamin, iron, riboflavin, niacin, calcium, phosphorus, potassium and magnesium.

#2: Jerky

Low Carb Popcorn Substitutes

Jerky is an amazing snack for anyone, but especially for individuals following a low carb or ketogenic diet. It’s made from leaner meat, being stripped of any extra fat. Jerky can be made from beef, chicken and even turkey.

It’s cut into strips and then dried to prevent it from going bad. However, be cautious of the source of the specific jerky you’re looking at. Many jerky brands found in your local grocery store contain harmful, artificial ingredients.

One large piece of jerky, approximately 20 grams, contains about 82 total calories including five grams of fat, two grams of net carbs and seven grams of protein. This snack is low carb and high in protein, so you’re sure to hit all your required macronutrient goals.

#3: Cheese Crackers

Low Carb Popcorn Substitutes

No, it’s not what you think. The cheese crackers that are low carb and keto friendly are not the prepackaged, artificial ones you see in the grocery store. Instead, homemade cheese crackers are perfect for those salty cravings while maintaining ketosis. There are several simple recipes you can follow to prepare these cheese crackers the next time you need a snack to satiate your desire for popcorn.

All you need is two cups of your favorite cheese, one cup of almond flour, two ounces of cream cheese and one egg. Mix in the cheese, cream cheese and almond flour in a microwavable bowl and keep it in long enough just for the cheese to melt. Once cooled, add in the egg. Mix it until it it creates a dough-like consistency. Place the dough between two sheets of parchment paper and roll it out into a rectangle.Then cut the dough into small squares before placing them in the oven set to 450 degrees for about six minutes per side.

One serving of these crackers makes up about 93 total calories including eight grams of fat, one and a half grams of net carbs and about four grams of protein. That’s right — less than two grams of net carbs per serving. Not only do you have yourself a crunchy snack, but you’ll be sure to stay in ketosis as well.

#4: Pork Rinds

Low Carb Popcorn Substitutes

Image: Keto Bread: Pork Rind Nearly No Carb Bread

Pork rinds have been making quite the name for themselves in the low carb world. Pork rinds, also known as chicharrones, are actually made from the skin of a pig. The pig skin is often fried in lard and then left to air dry. This is what gives them their fluffy appearance and crispy texture. This satiating, salty snack is a great low carb substitute for popcorn, especially for individuals concerned about keeping their carb intake to a minimum.

One ounce (or about 28 grams) of this salty treat contains a total of 154 calories including nine grams of fat, 17 grams of protein and zero carbs. Yep, you read that right. No carbs. None. Nada.

Are you worried you won’t be able to indulge in your favorite go-to snack for movie night? With these low carb alternatives to popcorn, you’ll never stress about what keto-friendly snack to eat again. Whether you’re making them yourself at home or picking them up in the store, you’ll be able to indulge in these salty snacks without any unnecessary worry.


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Responses (5)

  1. I have another substitute for popcorn, cauliflower. I was oven roasting cauliflower and the little pieces got crunchy, so experimented and cut up all my cauliflower into popcorn size pieces tossed in EVOO and S&P and WOW. I am a popcornaholic and it satisfied me.

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