The Best Snack Combination for Your Blood Sugar

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September 13, 2022
rice cake with peanut butter fruit and seeds on top
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Snack time can be a pivotal moment in the day for your blood sugar. If you skipped lunch or haven’t eaten in a while, you might start to feel symptoms of low blood sugar such as weakness, fatigue, brain fog, jitters, and headaches. Alternatively, if you haven’t made the most balanced choices earlier in the day, you might find yourself feeling the effects of higher blood sugar like sleepiness, low motivation, hydration, and low energy. Either way, a balanced snack may be just what you need to get back on track for the day and get your blood sugar levels in the right place.

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The top two components you need in a balanced snack

Research shows there’s actually a science to choosing a balanced snack. Protein and carbs are the perfect pairing for the combination of both short and long-term energy. Snacks really should at least have these two base components to start, then you certainly score extra bonus points by including a fruit or a vegetable for added nutrition and volume.

Protein specifically helps keep you full longer because it takes a while to digest. That means it’s sitting in your stomach longer and takes longer to be absorbed and put to use. This equates to long-term energy throughout the day and stable levels between meals. Carbs conversely have the opposite effect. They’re digested and absorbed very quickly and give us fast energy that we can put to work right away. The strategic combination of quick energy and sustained energy is key at snack time to feel both full and energized.

How does a balanced snack affect blood sugar?

For better blood sugar control, carbs alone will raise your glucose rather quickly. Without protein, carbs are digested and absorbed within about 30 minutes, often causing a blood sugar peak and subsequent crash.

Stable blood sugar is the name of the game for our health. When you pair carbs with protein, you’ll notice an even-keel blood sugar response. Your blood sugar might still rise after eating, which is normal, but it won’t spike as high as it would without protein and it will stay stable for longer too.

Why does blood sugar management matter?

Blood sugar control has been linked to many conditions ranging from heart health to brain health, and of course, your risk for developing diabetes.

While some level of blood sugar spike is normal after every meal, if you already are at risk for developing diabetes, you might want to take a preventative approach to your diet to balance your blood sugar sooner than later. The Diabetes Prevention Program — a lifestyle change approach to preventing diabetes and pre-diabetes — found that folks can prevent developing diabetes for at least 15 years with healthy changes to diet, exercise, and stress management.

Choose your favorite snack combo for blood sugar

Pair one food from each list below for a balanced snack that will keep your blood sugar in check and give you high energy levels for hours. Remember, these two components of your snacks can be your base. Feel free to add more as needed to suit your appetite, and fruits and veggies can add extra volume here to keep you feeling full too!

Proteins

  • Cheese
  • Jerky
  • Greek yogurt
  • Almonds
  • Peanut butter
  • Cottage cheese
  • Protein bar/shake
  • Boiled eggs
  • Edamame

Carbs

  • Wheat crackers
  • Berries
  • Pretzels
  • Apple
  • Fruit cup
  • Granola
  • Popcorn

Looking for some dietitian-approved snacks to buy to get you started? Lately, I am loving some new snack products like Teriyaki Tuna Jerky by Pescavore, Nature’s Bakery Brownies, Super Pop Snacks peanut butter bars, and Chobani drinkable Greek yogurt.

If you’re looking for more ways to avoid a blood sugar spike, we’ve got you covered with these expert-approved tips.

Read next: 10 Delicious, Healthy Snacks That Balance Your Blood Sugar

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