Carbs and Calories in Pretzels: Are Pretzels Keto Friendly?

Pretzels are a popular food that many people think of as a healthy snack.  Well, think again.  While it’s true that pretzels are a lower fat alternative to potato chips, they’re also packed with carbs because they’re so dense.  Unfortunately, pretzels do not make the approved foods list for the Keto diet. 

A one-ounce serving of hard pretzels fits inside your cupped hand.  However, most people consume much more than this amount, which is how the battle of the bulge arises. 

Because pretzels are so dry and bland, flavorings and dipping sauces are often used, which add extra carbs and calories as well.  Avoid purchasing the flavored variety, like cinnamon and sugar, chocolate-dipped or cheese stuffed.  Snacking on these types of pretzels can quickly have you soaring above your daily carb limit.

On the other hand, if you’re following a calorie reduction diet or a low fat plan instead of a low carb diet, plain hard pretzels can be enjoyed in moderation as part of a healthy diet.

How Many Carbs are in Pretzels?

There are 48 grams of carbs in a 60 gram serving of pretzels (about 10 pretzels).

A 100 gram serving of pretzels contains a staggering 80 grams of carbs!

How Many Calories are in Pretzels?

There are 380 calories in a 100 gram serving of pretzels.

A 60 gram serving of pretzels (about 10 pretzel twists) contains 228 calories.

History of Pretzels

Historically, the invention of pretzels is rooted in religion. It is believed that soft pretzels were first created by a monk around 610 in Italy when he folded strips of dough into a shape resembling a child crossing their arms in prayer.

In the year 1111, pretzels appeared in the crest of German bakers’ guilds and by the year 1185, an illustration of pretzels appeared in the Hortus Delicarum, an ancient encyclopedia.

In 1440, a picture of St. Bartholomew surrounded by pretzels appeared in a prayer book used by Catherine of Cleves.  Pretzels were considered a sign of good luck and spiritual wholeness. 

The three holes in the pretzel shape where thought to represent the Holy Trinity, inspiring their use on holidays like Christmas and New Year.  In the 16th century, children hung pretzels around their necks as a celebratory practice and pretzels were hung on Christmas trees as a decoration.  Parents hid pretzels on Easter for children to find – much like the Easter egg hunts we have today, only pretzels were hidden instead.

There is an old tale in which hard pretzels were invented when a baker fell asleep while his pretzels were baking over a fire. Contrary to popular belief, this is untrue.

It was Julius Sturgis who created the first pretzel bakery in Lititz, Pennsylvania in 1861 where hard pretzels were first produced for commercial use.  Because hard pretzels had a longer shelf life than soft pretzels did, it allowed them to be stored for longer in air-tight packaging and then exported to far away countries for sale or trade.

Nutrition Facts

Serving size:  10 Pretzel twists (60 grams) hard, salted.
Calories 228
Total Fat 1.6 grams 2%
Saturated fat 0.3 grams 1%
Polyunsaturated fat 0.6 grams
Monounsaturated fat 0.7 grams
Trans fat 0 grams
Cholesterol 0 milligrams 0%
Sodium 759.6 milligrams 31%
Potassium 81.6 milligrams 2%
Total Carbohydrate 48 grams 16%
Dietary fiber 1.8 grams 7%
Sugar 1.7 grams
Protein 6 grams 12%
Vitamin A 0% Vitamin C 0%
Calcium 1% Iron 17%
Vitamin D 0% Vitamin B-6 0%
Cobalamin 0% Magnesium 4%

Are Pretzels Healthy?

pretzels keto

Pretzels are practically devoid of nutritional value.  While they’re lower in calories and fat than potato chips, they not a very healthy snack.  Just one serving of pretzels contains a quarter of your daily recommended intake of sodium!

Excess sodium intake can cause water retention, which leads to bloating and puffiness.  Consuming too much sodium in the long term can lead to heart disease.

If you are trying to manage your weight, snacks that contain protein are more effective than carbohydrate-rich foods.  Protein can make you feel full for a longer period of time and helps stave off hunger.   Because pretzels are low in protein, you’re likely to feel hungry soon again soon after eating them.

Because plain pretzels are dry and bland, seasoned varieties that add flavorings are hitting the market.  Some are filled with cheese, while others may be chocolate-dipped or candy coated. Many are even served with dipping sauce, like icing or peanut butter.  These varieties usually contain extra sugar along with added calories, carbs, sodium and fat.

If you can’t go without pretzels, choose a whole grain brand or try “From the Ground Up” Cauliflower Pretzels, a new line from Halen Brands.  This company makes vegetable snack products that are quite tasty!

Try one of these lower carb snack options instead:

  1. Mixed nuts – A handful of nuts offers a variety of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients.  Plus, they offer a good source of protein and fiber.
  2. Sunflower or pumpkin seeds are another low carb snack.  Choose varieties that are unsalted and dry roasted.
  3. Red bell pepper and cucumbers with hummus or guacamole. 
  4. Celery sticks or any type of low carb raw veggies with a dollop of low sugar ranch dip.
  5. Greek yogurt and mixed berries (blueberries, raspberries, blackberries or strawberries are fairly low carb).
  6. Apple slices with peanut butter. If you’re following low carb, cut your apple in half and share it with a friend.
  7. Cottage cheese sprinkled with flax seeds and a pinch of cinnamon.
  8. Celery sticks with cheese or peanut butter.
  9. Kale chips, radish chips, or cheese chips.
  10. A small square of dark chocolate.

Ingredients in Pretzels

Enriched Flour (Wheat Flour – enriched with Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin, and Folic Acid), Salt, Corn Syrup, Ammonium Bicarbonate, and Malt Extract.

To get their brown, shiny appearance, pretzels are sprayed with a solution that causes a chemical reaction while they’re baking.  This solution consists of about 2% sodium hydroxide (lye) or it may be made with sodium bicarbonate (baking soda).

Popular Brands

  • Rold Gold
  • Snyders
  • Snack Factory
  • Quinn
  • Bachman
  • Hershey Chocolate Dipped

Health Benefits

carbs in pretzels

Pretzels low in fat and protein.  While they’re lower in calories than other common snack foods like chips, they’re high in carbs.  However, one upside is that they contain some fiber and B vitamins. 

One ounce of hard pretzels contains 2 grams of fiber.  Fiber has been shown to improve gut health and relieve digestive symptoms like constipation.

People who snack on pretzels will also get a dose of thiamine, riboflavin and niacin since most wheat flour is enriched with these extra nutrients.  These nutrients help your body convert food into sugars that are used by the body for energy.

Side Effects

In the short term, consuming pretzels may cause symptoms of dehydration, increased thirst, and electrolyte imbalance. 

Eaten long term, pretzels may contribute to weight gain and high blood pressure.

Fiber in Pretzels

There are 2 grams of fiber in a one-ounce serving of pretzels (about a handful).

Sugar in Pretzels

There is 2 grams of sugar in a serving size of about 10 pretzel twists.

Pretzels have a glycemic load of 80, which means they are a high on the GI food index.  These foods are known to increase blood sugar rapidly.

A recent study compared the blood sugar levels of subjects who ate pretzels with subjects who snacked on mixed nuts.  It was found that the participants who consumed the pretzels had increased blood sugar after eating.  The group who consumed the nuts did not experience elevated blood sugar levels.

Melissa Marshall

A litigation paralegal and writer. Her first novel debuts this fall. She lives with her kitten, Zoey overlooking the waterfront in beautiful Dartmouth, Nova Scotia - also known as the “City of Lakes”.

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