If you have diabetes or prediabetes, you may wonder what you can eat for a snack. The key is to focus on high-protein and high-fiber foods with no added sugars. Protein and fiber slow digestion, which helps prevent a blood sugar spike.
I’ve pulled together a list of 11 healthy snacks for people with prediabetes and diabetes. I’ll also discuss tips for choosing good snacks and how to practice portion control.
Almonds are nutritious, filling, and convenient when you need to be on-the-go. One ounce (about 23 almonds) provides 6 grams of protein along with a healthy dose of fiber, vitamin E, and minerals such as potassium, magnesium, and phosphorus.
In addition, one study found that eating an almond snack daily may help people with diabetes and prediabetes control their blood sugar and reduce their waist size and HbA1C.
One hard-boiled egg contains 6.3 grams of protein and only 0.56 grams of carbohydrates. With such a high protein and low carbohydrate count, you’ll feel full and get the energy you need without increasing your blood sugar.
This snack may also help you lose weight. In one study, people with type 2 diabetes who ate two eggs a day reduced their body weight, waist circumference, and visceral body fat. Losing weight can help improve insulin sensitivity and may reduce the need for some diabetes medications.
Veggies and Hummus
Veggies are loaded with fiber and vitamins and won’t spike blood sugar. To make them more satisfying and flavorful, dip them in hummus. This creamy spread is made from chickpeas blended with tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, and spices. It’s a source of protein and healthy fat, which may help you feel full longer. Research suggests that consuming hummus may help with weight management and glucose regulation, as well as decrease your risk for heart disease.
One serving of popcorn gives you about one-third of your daily intake of whole grains. Including whole grains in your diet may help lower blood pressure and reduce your risk for obesity and heart disease.
However, popcorn needs to be prepared correctly. Many microwave versions are loaded with butter, salt, and sometimes sugar. Try an air popper instead to make your own. Then go ahead and add a little butter and salt for flavoring.
Oats are another type of whole grain that boasts a good dose of fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals. Some research suggests that eating oats may have anti-cancer properties.
Have half a cup of cooked oatmeal with some nuts and berries for a snack, or make overnight oats.
Half of an avocado provides 4.2 grams of protein, 13.5 grams of fiber, and 29.5 grams of fat. Given its high calorie content, it’s best to eat half an avocado for a snack. Enjoy it with a little sprinkle of salt or other seasoning, or mash it into guacamole to eat with raw veggies.
Chickpeas (also called garbanzo beans) are a legume that research suggests may help with blood sugar regulation and healthy weight management.
For a snack, roast the beans: Rinse a can of chickpeas and blot dry. Toss the beans with a little olive oil and some seasonings like garlic powder, paprika, salt, and onion powder. Then bake them on a cookie sheet in the oven until crispy, being sure to mix them around every so often.
Peanut butter is a delicious addition to many snacks and provides more than 3 grams of protein per tablespoon. You can pair it with fruits such as apples, pears, and bananas. You can mix it into oatmeal. Or you can make ants on a log: Spread a little on celery and top with raisins.
Edamame is immature soybeans. Originally popular in East Asian countries, you can find it fresh or frozen in many grocery stores. Simply steam the pods and enjoy. One cup of cooked edamame contains 18.4 grams of protein, 8 grams of fiber, and 13.8 grams of carbohydrates, along with many vitamins and minerals.
Three ounces of tuna provides 19.8 grams of protein, no carbohydrates, and the added benefit of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. A quick snack idea is making tuna lettuce wraps. Mix it with a little mayonnaise and add flavorings like celery, onion, green olives, or dill relish, then wrap it in a piece of lettuce.
One cup of cottage cheese contains 25 grams of protein, which will help you stay full longer. Eat it plain or add chopped fruit or berries for fiber and natural sweetness.
Tips for Snacking with Diabetes
Learning how foods affect your blood sugar is key to living well with diabetes and prediabetes. Here are some tips for deciding what to eat for a snack.
Practice portion control
The term portion refers to how much food you chose to eat. This is different from serving size, which refers to a specific quantity of food or drink.
Some people practice counting carbohydrates to help them determine the foods and quantities their meals and snacks should contain. Your medical provider can help you determine how many carbs you need daily.
Another method is the plate method. Start with a nine-inch plate and fill half the place with non-starchy vegetables, such as green beans, salad, or broccoli. Then fill one-quarter of the plate with lean protein and the last quarter with carb food.
Sugars, especially processed sugars, cause blood sugar levels to rise. To avoid hidden sugars, read food labels, looking for ingredients ending in “ose” such as sucrose, fructose, or maltose, and any ingredient that includes “syrup” or “juice.” These are all types of sugars. When these words are near the top of the ingredients list, it means there is a large amount in that food. It’s probably best to skip the food or eat a small portion.
Choose healthy fats
Some fats are healthy for your body, while others are harmful. Eating harmful fats can cause weight gain and put you at higher risk for heart disease. Healthy fats are found in foods such as:
- Olive oil
- Canola oil
Try swapping your butter and cream cheese for nut butter or avocado. When eating out, ask for your veggies to be baked or steamed rather than fried. Especially stay away from deep-fried foods. Instead, add a spoonful of salsa or hot sauce to add flavoring without harmful fats.
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Frequently Asked Questions
K Health has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We avoid using tertiary references.
Almond nutritional facts. (N.D.)
Carb counting. (2022.)
Chickpea nutritional facts. (N.D.)
Diabetes meal planning. (2022.)
Edamame nutrition facts. (N.D.)
Editorial: Everything edamame: Biology, production, nutrition, sensory and economics. (2022.)
Effect of almond supplementation on glycemia and cardiovascular risk factors in Asian Indians in North India with type 2 diabetes mellitus: A 24–week study. (2017.)
Egg nutritional facts. (N.D.)
Egg ingestion in adults with type 2 diabetes: Effects on glycemic control, anthropometry, and diet quality—a randomized, controlled, crossover trial. (2016.)
Energy intake and satiety responses of eggs for breakfast in overweight and obese adults—A crossover study. (2020.)
Oatmeal nutrition facts. (N.D.)
Popcorn: A healthy whole grain snack. (2022.)
Post-prandial glucose and insulin responses of hummus alone or combined with a carbohydrate food: A dose–response study. (2016.)
Tuna nutritional facts. (N.D.)