Get full access to Outside Learn, our online education hub featuring in-depth nutrition, fitness and adventure courses, and more than 2,000 instructional videos when you sign up for Outside+..
Q: I often go too long without food—or I eat something that leaves me hungry a little while later. Then I get shaky, irritable, and short with friends, family, and coworkers. What can I do to balance my blood sugar and prevent this?
A: What you’re describing is more common than you might think. The first part of my answer is, of course, eat more regularly. Keep it in your mind that going too long without food is a big stress on the body. So make changes in your lifestyle to prevent that.
The second part of my answer is a little more complicated: Adjust the balance of protein, fat, and carbohydrates in the meals and snacks you eat to give your body slower-burning fuel. Doing that will balance your blood sugar levels and help them stay in healthy ranges for longer periods of time. That in turn leads to better energy, mental focus, and moods.
When you make sure your meals contain the right balance of nutrients, you might not even need to eat snacks. If you do, know that all snacks are not created equal. If you eat high-carb snacks such as chips, you might get a quick spurt of energy, but you’re destined to crash and burn a short time later. Switching to snacks that serve as balanced mini-meals will keep you energized much longer.
The following are 15 examples of blood-sugar-balancing snacks. Most are combinations of protein, fat, and slow-burning, non-starchy vegetables. A few are more keto-like, meaning higher in fat and lower in protein. Different combinations work better for some people, so do some experimenting to find your perfect balance.
Celery-Almond Butter Boats
A go-to snack for many, celery sticks spread with unsalted, unsweetened almond butter are a nice combination of crunchy and creamy. They’re also super quick to make and stabilizing for your energy.
Organic Cheese Stick and Red Pepper Strips
Eat an organic mozzarella cheese stick (we like Organic Valley) for a quick hit of protein and fat. To make a more nutritious blood-sugar balancing mini-meal, pair it with red pepper strips.
Organic Valley Stringles String Cheese
Beef Jerky with Sauerkraut
Unsweetened beef jerky, such as EPIC Provisions Beef Sea Salt + Pepper or Chomps Sea Salt Beef Stick, provides a good instant boost of protein to steady blood sugar levels. Try eating jerky with a few bites of low-carb sauerkraut, such as refrigerated varieties made by Farmhouse Culture, which contain good-for-your-gut probiotics.
Farmhouse Culture Crunchy Kraut
Hard-Boiled Egg and Carrot Strips
Eggs are filling—they rank high on a scale called the Satiety Index, which evaluates how well certain foods help you feel full and reduce your calorie intake later on. Complement a hard-boiled egg with a few carrot strips and two tablespoons Primal Kitchen Ranch dressing for a snack that hits all the blood-sugar balancing bases.
Primal Kitchen Ranch Dressing
Macadamia Nuts, Pecans, and Brazil Nuts
Research suggests that eating nuts may support blood sugar management. Macadamias (we like Royal Hawaiian), pecans, and Brazils are the lowest-carb, highest-fat varieties, making them satisfying snacks that provide slow-burning fuel. Brazil nuts also contain high levels of selenium, a mineral that’s important for a healthy immune system. Stick to just one or two per day to get 100% of your RDA of selenium.
Royal Hawaiian Sea Salt Macadamias
The simplest way to balance blood sugar? Eat a small amount of last night’s dinner? Plan ahead, make extra supper, and have a few bites of meatloaf or chicken-vegetable stir fry as a quick nosh the next day.
Vital Farms makes four varieties of individual snack packs consisting of two egg bites made with pasture-raised eggs, cheese, and other ingredients. One tasty type is Uncured Bacon & Cheddar Cheese Cheese, which supplies 18 grams of protein, 17 grams of fat, and 5 grams of carbohydrates.
Vital Farms Egg Bites
Olives, Cherry Tomatoes, and Provolone
Sold by companies such as California Coast Naturals and Gaea, organic olives, whether green or black, are bite-sized nutrient powerhouses rich in healthy fats, vitamin E, and anti-inflammatory compounds. Combine olives with cherry tomatoes and provolone cheese cubes to make a satisfying Italian snack.
California Coast Naturals Organic Olives
Veggie Sticks With Guacamole
Guacamole is offers a blood-sugar balancing combination of fat, fiber, and other healthy nutrients. If you don’t want to make it from scratch, you can buy individual-size Wholly Guacamole Organic Minis, which are perfectly portioned for snacking. Use guac as a dip with celery or jicama sticks.
Wholly Guacamole Organic Minis
Quick Raspberry Coconut Treat
For a little sweet treat, try topping fresh raspberries, one of the best types of fruit for steady blood sugar levels, with pumpkin seeds, shredded coconut, and canned unsweetened coconut milk mixed with cinnamon. Coconut and coconut milk provide satisfying, healthy fats, and pumpkin seeds are a vegan source of protein and zinc.
This product by MCTco packs a lot of nutritional punch in just 180–190 calories. To help balance blood sugar, it offers 0 grams of added sugar, 10 grams of protein from grass-fed bovine collagen, and 14 grams of fat from easy-to-absorb MCT oil, cocoa butter, and almond butter. Naturally sweetened with monk fruit, this food bar has a fluffy truffle texture and is available in six flavors. It features clean ingredients and gives energy without the crash.
Flax seeds are a good source of fiber and omega-3 fatty acids, healthy fats that are lacking in most American diets. In this case, they serve as the base of a crunchy, satiating low-carb cracker. Foods Alive makes four unsweetened savory flavors: Original, Onion Garlic, Mexican Harvest, and Italian Zest.
Foods Alive Flax Crackers
Easy Tuna Salad With Cucumber Slices
Mix a little mayo into a single-serving pouch of tuna, such as those made by Wild Planet, and serve with cucumber rounds for a blood-sugar balancing mini-meal. Check out Chosen Foods, which produces many types of mayonnaise tailored to fit various dietary needs.
Chosen Foods Mayo
Bonafide Keto-Style Broth
Would you rather drink something that’s satisfying and stabilizes your blood sugar? Seek out Bonafide Provisions’ individual cups of organic chicken bone broth paired with MCT oil and butter from grass-fed cows. For just 120 calories, the broth provides 10 grams each of easy-to-digest protein and fat.
Bonafide Be Well Broth cups
Bhu Keto Protein Bar
This vegan bar features a good balance of healthy fat, protein, and carbohydrates. Sweetened with organic monk fruit, it contains an energizing combination of organic pea protein, nuts, and red palm oil.
Bhu Keto Bar