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12 Snacks That Won’t Raise Your Blood Sugar

June 21, 2021
Written by
Team NutriSense
Reviewed by

Finding healthy snacks can be a challenge, especially when you’re watching your blood sugar. It can therefore be helpful to have a short list of high-quality snacks that tend not to spike your blood glucose levels. In general, we would advise most people to stick to a minimum of snacks and instead focus on a small number of larger meals throughout the day. This way your body can spend some time in a “fasting state,” which much emerging nutritional science supports is part of a healthful feeding pattern. However, situations will inevitably arise in which you will need or want a snack, such as traveling, adjusting to a new routine, adapting to unexpected changes in plans, and so on. We feel it’s better to be prepared and have a set of quick and nutritious foods ready to go such that when you look for a snack – and inevitably, we all do – it’s one that has a minimal impact on your blood glucose levels.

Why You Want Snacks That Won’t Raise Blood Sugar

When we look for a snack, most of us tend to look for something that picks up our energy levels immediately like a sports drink, chips, caffeinated soda or candy bar. Although this strategy will doubtlessly have an immediate and dramatic effect, that effect is often predicated on a spike in blood glucose, which can have harmful side effects if persistently elevated. Also, the spike in glucose will lead to a spike in insulin, the hormone the body uses to transport glucose into cells, and the result will be a sugar crash with the attendant lower energy levels. In the most practical terms, looking for a quick sugar rush will not only lead to a sugar crash, but can carry potentially serious consequences if done too often – one reason we discourage snacking.

 However, there is an exception to every rule, and snacks low in sugar and with a low glycemic index (GI) can have a minimal impact on your blood sugar. Taking this idea to its logical conclusion, one sugar spike and crash would leave a person in the exact same situation as before, looking for an energy bridge to the next meal. So, we can have a situation in which someone quickly piles on the sugar and calories to stabilize his or her blood sugar for the required period. Furthermore, a sudden crash in blood glucose can cause a hunger response, so the person will be motivated to eat even more snacks, enlarging the spikes and worsening the problem, as well as leading to more food consumption than may have originally been intended.

 This cycle of glucose spike and insulin spike, followed by glucose crash and hunger signals can have dramatic health consequences that can be difficult to reverse. It’s worth noting that in each of these cases, the act of snacking is done once, so it would take most people years of bad habits to result in severe negative health outcomes. All the same, the single best way to get rid of a bad habit is to replace it with a good one, and it’s never too early or too late to get into the healthful practice of consistently eating well. Among the most feared consequences of being overweight or obese is insulin resistance, in which the body loses some of its ability to respond to insulin, and thereby traps abnormally high levels of glucose in the blood.

Healthy Snacks That Won’t Raise Your Blood Sugar

Protein is generally considered the most filling macronutrient, or in other words the part of the food that will make you feel satisfied for the longest amount of time – an effective energy bridge to the next meal. Even better, it has the most even and least extreme effect on blood glucose levels. So, you may notice a theme among these snack options: most are high in protein, some in protein and fat, and a few just in fat, but the key idea is that all have manageable levels of carbohydrates, which ultimately become a quick source of glucose in the blood. Among carbohydrates, we would recommend in addition to low overall levels a bias towards complex carbs that take longer to digest, all to minimize the blood sugar spike as much as possible.

 In general, you would also want to choose snacks that are nutrient-dense (put differently: as many nutrients per calorie as possible, and often this means choosing snacks in their whole food state. Processed food as a category tends to be calorie-dense and nutrient-poor. This is because processing typically involves discarding indigestible or simply unappealing parts of food from a pure taste perspective. Our digestive system, unfortunately, has yet to catch up with the highly processed food culture we find ourselves living in, so this can cause short-term derangements in blood glucose levels as well as deprive your body of the balance between nutrients and calories it has come to expect over tens of thousands of years.

Although some of these will require some basic meal preparation, the idea is that the finished snacks will be stable, storable and portable – so that at the exact moment a snack craving hits, it will be as convenient as a candy bar or can of soda. Wherever possible, they will also be made from raw or unprocessed ingredients for the reasons stated above. Here then is a short list of snacks that can be prepared in advance or eaten as they are purchased, with a focus on both nutrient density and the lowest possible impact on your blood glucose levels.

Hard Boiled Eggs

  • The incredible, edible and protein-dense egg can be prepared ahead of time with ease. The most stable preparation of this snack is probably simply to boil them, then peel them wherever you want to eat. If you have a kitchen available, they can be quickly garnished with your favorite seasonings - salt, pepper, everything but the bagel seasoning, and hot sauce are some of our favorites.

Yogurt Bowls

  • Probably the best base for a yogurt bowl for our priorities would be a thick, full-fat and unsweetened Greek yogurt (which strains out the lactose and whey, but on balance has more protein than normal yogurt because the resulting yogurt is much denser). Mix in some flax seeds, nuts, spices or a reasonable quantity of blueberries or blackberries and this nutrient-packed dish is ready to eat.

Cottage Cheese Bowls

  • Full fat cottage cheese is the substitute for yogurt in this recipe, so the usual suspects for mix-ins would still apply – flax seeds, cinnamon or berries.

Avocado

  • Although perhaps the most delicious preparation is guacamole (and you can substitute the chips with carrots or other crunchy vegetables), one advantage of whole avocados is you can store them outside a refrigerator. Simply cut one in half and season with salt, pepper, lemon juice or hot sauce for a high-fiber, low-carbohydrate snack.

Chia Pudding

  • Three tablespoons of chia seeds mixed with half a cup of unsweetened almond milk and cooled overnight in the refrigerator will yield a savory and satisfying treat. Cinnamon, almond butter or coconut flakes would be ideal toppings.

Edamame

  • Whole soybeans in the pod are one of the most stable, least fussy options on this list – simply peel and eat for a high-protein, whole food energy source. These can also be found pre-peeled and frozen.

Hummus

  • Hummus is a dip made from cooked, ground chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice and garlic and pairs exceptionally well with fresh sliced cucumbers or snap peas. Be sure to inspect the nutritional information to ensure it meets your goals.

Smoked Salmon

  • Layer smoked salmon and cucumber slices with a dollop of unsweetened Greek yogurt and chopped dill for a high-protein, flavorful tzatziki upgrade.

Beef Jerky

  • Beef jerky can be a great option for a shelf-stable, high protein snack. However, many large brands also add sugars to their beef jerky so be sure to inspect the ingredients list on the nutrition label.

Protein “Ice Cream”

  • Combine ice, half a cup of milk, a scoop of unsweetened protein powder and a tablespoon of either cacao powder or espresso powder (or both) with a pinch of salt in a blender then add fresh fruit or nuts for a surprisingly satisfying treat.

Tuna or Salmon Salad

  • Combine canned tuna or salmon with unsweetened full-fat Greek yogurt, sliced tomatoes, onion and a splash of extra virgin olive oil (if the can doesn’t have it) for a savory, protein-rich and nutrient-dense snack. You can eat this by itself, or scoop it with some cucumbers or celery!

Mozzarella Cheese

  • Combine fresh basil, a cherry tomato and mozzarella ball on a toothpick for a fun and no-mess version of caprese good for any time of day.

Engage with Your Blood Glucose Levels with Nutrisense

Your blood sugar levels can significantly impact how your body feels and functions. That’s why stable blood glucose levels can be an important factor in supporting overall wellbeing.

With Nutrisense, you’ll be able to track your blood glucose levels over time using a CGM, so you can make lifestyle choices that support healthy living.

When you join the program, our team of credentialed dietitians and nutritionists are available for additional support and guidance to help you reach your goals.

Ready to take the first step? Start with our quiz to see how Nutrisense can support your health.

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12 Snacks That Won’t Raise Your Blood Sugar
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The Health Benefits of Winter Squash
The Health Benefits of Winter Squash

A common ingredient in cozy winter recipes, winter squash is one of our favorite foods this time of year. Read on to learn more about how it can benefit your health.

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6
min
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The NutriSense Holiday Gift Guide: Stocking Stuffers We Love
The NutriSense Holiday Gift Guide: Stocking Stuffers We Love

Haven't finished your holiday shopping yet? Pick from this list of NutriSense-approved holiday gifts to find some great last-minute stocking stuffers for everyone on your list!

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8
min
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The NutriSense Holiday Gift Guide: Health-Focused Gifts They’ll Love
The NutriSense Holiday Gift Guide: Health-Focused Gifts They’ll Love

Still haven't bought all your holiday gifts this year? Don't worry—there's still time to find the perfect gift for everyone on your list. Read our guide for some great ideas!

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9
min
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The Link Between Inflammation and Blood Glucose
The Link Between Inflammation and Blood Glucose

Learn more about inflammation, how it affects blood glucose levels and what you can do to prevent and manage it.

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9
min
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The Health Benefits of Adding Fermented Foods to Your Diet
The Health Benefits of Adding Fermented Foods to Your Diet

Fermented foods have a range of health benefits. Read on to learn more about what they are and why you should be adding them to your diet.

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9
min
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The Health Benefits of Potatoes, Yams, and Sweet Potatoes
The Health Benefits of Potatoes, Yams, and Sweet Potatoes

Potatoes, yams, and sweet potatoes are similar in usage, but pretty distinct in taste, texture, appearance, and even nutritional content! Read on to find out more about each one.

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8
min
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The Health Benefits of Living With Pets
The Health Benefits of Living With Pets

Did you know that living with a pet can do more than just put a smile on your face? Read on to learn all the ways living with pets improves your wellbeing.

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7
min
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The Health Benefits of Cooking With Herbs and Spices
The Health Benefits of Cooking With Herbs and Spices

Herbs and spices are a great way to add flavor to dishes, and also have a range of health benefits. Learn more about a few of our favorites.

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12
min
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The Health Benefits of Beans
The Health Benefits of Beans

Learn about the health benefits of beans and how they can help you live a healthier, longer life.

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6
min
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The Guide to Metabolic Diets: What Are They, Do They Work, And Who Should Try Them?
The Guide to Metabolic Diets: What Are They, Do They Work, And Who Should Try Them?

Review our guide to metabolic diets to help get a better understanding of what they are and whether they might be right for you.

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The Foods and Traditions of Kwanzaa
The Foods and Traditions of Kwanzaa

Learn about the traditions and nutrient-dense food commonly enjoyed during Kwanzaa. 

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9
min
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The Blood Sugar and Joint Pain Connection
The Blood Sugar and Joint Pain Connection

Have you ever wondered how your glucose levels might be connected to joint pain? We'll take a deep dive into this connection and share tips for reducing pain.

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10
min
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The Best Diet for Non-Diabetic Hypoglycemia
The Best Diet for Non-Diabetic Hypoglycemia

This article explores hypoglycemia in non-diabetics, how to manage symptoms through diet, and the advantages of glucose monitoring.

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6
min
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The Effect of Aging on Your Blood Glucose Levels
The Effect of Aging on Your Blood Glucose Levels

Take a look at how aging can affect your blood glucose levels.

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9
min
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The Best Diet to Increase Your Vitamin D Levels
The Best Diet to Increase Your Vitamin D Levels

Read on to learn more about vitamin D-rich foods and what you should include in your diet to make the most of this vitamin’s health benefits.

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10
min
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The Best Diet for Menstruation
The Best Diet for Menstruation

When it comes to your menstrual cycle, what you eat can significantly impact how you feel. Read on to learn more about the best foods to add to your diet to help during that time of the month.

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8
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The Benefits and Risks of Popular Ayurvedic Herbs and Spices
The Benefits and Risks of Popular Ayurvedic Herbs and Spices

Ayurveda is an ancient Indian holistic healing system that dates back over 5,000 years. In the second installment of our series on the practice, review the benefits and risks associated with popular Ayurvedic herbs and spices.

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9
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The Beginner’s Guide to the Low FODMAP Diet
The Beginner’s Guide to the Low FODMAP Diet

In this article, we break down what a low FODMAP diet looks like for beginners, and its potential benefits and drawbacks for gastrointestinal health.

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8
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The 6 Worst Foods for Osteoporosis
The 6 Worst Foods for Osteoporosis

When it comes to bone health, good nutrition is absolutely critical. Read on to learn what osteoporosis is and why some foods may increase your risk of or worsen the condition.

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8
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Taking Mental Health Online: Tips & Tools for Self-Care
Taking Mental Health Online: Tips & Tools for Self-Care

Mental health has a significant impact on your overall health; here are tips, tools, and apps to improve your mental wellbeing.

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12
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Tea, Blood Sugar Levels and Your Health
Tea, Blood Sugar Levels and Your Health

Different types of tea have different benefits for your health. Learn more about a few popular types, and see how tea can help you maintain healthy blood sugar levels.

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14
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Summer Soup Recipes: An Expert Weighs in on 13 Healthy Soup Options
Summer Soup Recipes: An Expert Weighs in on 13 Healthy Soup Options

To help you make the most of the warmer weather, we asked Carlee Hayes, RDN, CD, and Nutrition Manager here at NutriSense, to share a few of her favorite summer soup recipes.