Have you ever resorted to scarfing down a vending machine candy bar for a mid-day boost? If so, you’ve likely been victim to the blood sugar rollercoaster—a burst of energy rush as the processed sugar floods your system and then the inevitable sugar crash. Not a good time.
A better alternative for that mid-afternoon slump? Low-sugar snacks made from whole foods. These types of snacks will help stabilize your blood sugar and provide slow-releasing energy without a crash.
We’ll share some delicious, low-sugar snacks shortly, but first, let’s cover some basics about sugar.
Why Is Sugar Bad?
Sugar refers to a variety of carbohydrate molecules, including:
- High fructose corn syrup
While sugar is naturally found in foods like fruits, veggies, dairy, and grains, some types of sugar (sucrose and high fructose corn syrup) are added to food products during manufacturing. That’s why they’re referred to as “added sugar” or “refined sugar.”
When someone says sugar is bad for you, they’re typically talking about added sugar. Research suggests that excess added sugar intake can increase your risk of serious health conditions, including heart disease, obesity, cognitive decline, inflammation, and type 2 diabetes.[*][*][*][*]
Moderate amounts of naturally-occurring sugars, such as those in whole fruit, have not been shown to carry the same risks and can be part of a healthy diet.
Top Low-Sugar Snack Ideas
The following healthy snacks don’t include added sugar and only minimal amounts of naturally-occurring sugar from whole food sources like fruits, veggies, and grains.
#1: Roasted Chickpeas
Looking for a crunchy, high protein snack? Try roasted chickpeas, which contain about 10 grams of natural sugar per ½ cup.[*]
To make them, simply:
- Rinse, drain, and dry a can of chickpeas.
- Season them with olive oil, garlic powder, smoked paprika, sea salt, pepper, or any other seasonings you’d like.
- Spread the chickpeas out on a baking sheet.
- Bake for 45 minutes at 350°F.
#2: Veggies or Whole Grain Crackers with Hummus
Speaking of chickpeas, another great way to enjoy this healthy legume is with hummus—a smooth and creamy puree of cooked chickpeas. Hummus is an excellent source of plant protein, fiber, complex carbs, and heart-healthy fats. It also contains very little sugar.
You can make your own hummus by blending chickpeas, tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, and garlic in a high-speed blender or food processor. You can also buy it in a store, but just be sure it doesn’t include added sugar.
Hummus pairs well with whole grain crackers, pretzels, and veggies like carrot sticks, bell pepper, and celery.
#3: Ants on a Log
A childhood classic, ants on a log is a delicious, low-sugar snack for adults and kids alike. The celery offers a good dose of natural sodium and hydration, the nut butter provides a bit of protein and healthy fats, and the raisins add sweetness and a satisfying serving of carbs. The perfect combo!
To make this snack, smear nut butter into the concave part of the celery stick. Then, push a few raisins into the nut butter.
You can use peanut butter, almond butter, or even cashew butter—whatever nut butter you prefer. Just don’t go too crazy with the raisins, as dried fruit packs a bigger natural sugar punch than fresh fruit.
#4: Greek Yogurt with Blueberries
Skip the yogurts with sugary jam at the bottom and instead make an added-sugar-free snack by mixing blueberries (or any other type of whole fruit) with unsweetened Greek yogurt.
Fresh fruit provides fiber, antioxidants, and just the right amount of sweetness, while Greek yogurt offers protein and satisfying creaminess.
#5: Hard-Boiled Eggs
Hard-boiled eggs are the ultimate healthy fast food. Boil up a bunch of eggs and keep them in the fridge for when you need a protein-rich pick-me-up. Sprinkle the eggs with a little sea salt and pepper and add a dash of hot sauce and you’re good to go!
#6: Chia Seed Pudding
Store-bought pudding is a total sugar bomb. Instead, make your own healthy version of pudding using chia seeds and plant milk. Not only is this pudding quick and easy to make, but chia seeds are loaded with heart-healthy omega-3 fats, protein, antioxidants, and fiber. Plus, it tastes like a sweet treat while still being low sugar.
Here’s how to make it:
- In a bowl or jar, combine 4 tablespoons of chia seeds, 1 cup of plant milk, ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract, and a sugar-free sweetener like monk fruit or stevia as desired.
- Once the mixture is well combined, cover and put in the fridge for two hours (or overnight).
- Once it’s ready, you can top it with fresh fruit, nuts, nut butter, seeds, or dark chocolate chips.
#7: Baked Tortilla Chips with Guacamole
If you’re in the mood for a low-sugar snack with some crunch, make homemade tortilla chips to pair with guacamole. Avocados are a rich source of healthy fats, which will help keep you full in between meals.
Here’s how to make the chips:
- Cut corn tortillas into wedges and spread them out on a baking sheet.
- Bake for 6 minutes at 350°F.
- Sprinkle the chips with sea salt and bake for another 6-9 minutes.
- Remove from the oven, sprinkle with more salt to serve, and enjoy with salsa or guac.
#8: Low-Sugar Protein Bars
What if you’re looking for a truly grab-and-go snack? Try a low-sugar protein bar, such as IQBAR—a vegan and keto protein bar that offers 12 grams of pure plant-based protein and only 1-2 grams of sugar from natural sources per bar.
Available in flavors like Banana Nut, Almond Butter Chip, Chocolate Sea Salt, Lemon Blueberry, and Matcha Chai, these low-carb snack bars will satisfy your sweet tooth cravings while giving you a brain and body boost.
A Final Word on Low-Sugar Snacks
Snacking (in moderation) can help curb your appetite, provide you with energy, and help you maintain stable blood sugar. The key is choosing your snacks wisely.
That means opting for foods that are low in sugar and high in protein and fiber. All of these snacks are excellent, healthy options to keep on hand!