Keeping a few healthy, go-to snacks on hand is a simple way to prevent low blood sugar between meals. The best snack options provide plenty of protein and dietary fiber without lots of added sugar. These foods will nourish the body and satisfy hunger without causing a spike in blood glucose levels due to large amounts of sugar. Having nutritious snacks available also helps prevent hunger pangs from leading to overeating the next time food is available.
Nuts and nut butters are a handy snack option not only because they do not require refrigeration and are easily portable, but also because they are packed with protein. Protein is not just an essential macronutrient; it may also contribute to a longer-lasting feeling of satiety after eating because it takes time for the body to digest and metabolize it. Importantly, protein does not raise blood glucose levels. Another protein-packed snack option is unprocessed, lean turkey. When wrapped around raw cherry tomatoes or grilled asparagus it can be a delicious way to re-energize the body.
Dietary fiber is critical to staving off cravings due to the time it takes to pass through the digestive system and has been shown to help control blood sugar levels. An excellent whole-grain snack option is a single packet of plain, instant oatmeal made with water and dressed up with fresh berries and a tablespoon of plain Greek yogurt. This snack is low in calories but rich in nutrients and, thanks to the presence of fiber and protein, will keep you feeling fuller longer. Another snack to keep in your repertoire is a granola bar that includes fruit and nuts. Do check the nutrition label prior to purchasing to ensure it does not contain large amounts of added sugar.
Raw fruits and vegetables are low in calories and full of vitamins. They are also rich in dietary fiber, which helps regulate blood sugar. Some of the most snack-friendly veggies include celery, carrots, bell pepper and cucumber, which are delicious raw and pair well with a tablespoon of nut butter or hummus for a quick bite loaded with protein, water and fiber. Fresh fruit is another snack-time favorite. Its versatility means it combines well with everything from a piece of low-fat string cheese to a handful of almonds.
Low-Sugar Dairy Products
Low-sugar dairy products such as Greek yogurt and cottage cheese are a nutritious way to satisfy your appetite between meals. Both are high in protein, calcium and vitamins A and D. It is important to look for options without added sugar, and plain varieties of both often offer the lowest sugar content. For Greek yogurt, add in your own fresh fruit and a pinch of cinnamon, or even sprinkle it with a tablespoon of granola. Cottage cheese is delicious when made savory with fresh black pepper, a couple of tomato slices and a small wedge of avocado.
Alberto J. Medina is a small-business owner, personal trainer and professional writer. He holds a bachelor's degree in exercise and health promotion from Virginia Tech, and is an ACE-certified advanced health and fitness specialist as well as a health coach and group fitness instructor.