If popcorn is one of your go-to snacks, you’re in good company. It’s easy to make, low-calorie, and there are lots of fun ways to spice it up. What you may not know, though, is that popcorn is a whole grain – and like others in this category, that means you can enjoy it even if you’re on a low-carb diet.
Since the number of carbs you can eat each day is limited, you’ll need to know how many carbs are in this light and fluffy snack and how they fit into your day. “When you’re following a low-carb diet, you should look at the overall picture of what you’re eating and the carbs that those foods contain,” Amy Gorin, MS, RDN, a dietitian in the New York City area and owner of Amy Gorin Nutrition, told POPSUGAR. “How much popcorn you can have will really just depend on what else you’re eating, the carb counts of those foods, and what type of low-carb diet you are following.” If you’re on the keto diet, for example, your daily carb count is going to be much lower than someone following a less stringent plan.
If you’re doing the low-carb thing, you’re probably already tracking your macros, so just make sure you are including popcorn (and any other snacks) in your daily intake. A cup of plain, air-popped popcorn contains only 31 calories and six grams of carbs, so if you plan accordingly, you can probably go back for seconds when you decide to stay up for just one more episode.
Another bit of good news: you aren’t limited to plain air-popped popcorn just because you’re on a low-carb diet. “What type of popcorn and ingredients you use, again, depends on the make up of the rest of your diet and how low-carb your particular diet is,” Amy said. Any type of spice seasoning (think: salt, garlic, dill) is going to have very few carbs and should be fair game, but make sure you read the nutrition label on any popcorn you buy. While not totally off limits, sugary popcorns like kettle corn or caramel corn are going to be much higher in carbs.