I typically recommend fresh foods and snacks to help you maintain good health and healthy blood sugar levels. However, there are convenient options such as bars and shakes that are specifically designed not to raise blood sugar levels. So here is how they work:

The ingredients contained in these snacks are:

  • Uncooked starch
  • Resistant starch
  • Tapioca dextrin

These carbohydrates are a benefit because they:

  • Encourage glucose levels not to spike or drop to protect you
  • Reduce fluctuations in glucose levels to make you feel more energized!

Similar outcomes result from:

  • High fiber foods
  • High fat – Choose healthy fat sources such as nuts, nut butters and avocados
  • Protein – Try lean meat, poultry, fish, eggs or low-fat cheese

The best way to determine their effect on YOUR blood sugar is to test yourself before you eat a snack bar or drink a shake and then test again an hour or two later. If you don’t see a spike (expect a moderate rise) – you’ll know it was a positive food for you.

Here are some good choices for pre-made snacks and drinks:

  • Extend® bars, drinks and chips contain “uncooked” starches
  • Glucerna® bars and shakes contain “resistant” starches
  • Nestle® Boost Control drinks contain tapioca dextrin, extra protein and L-arginine (wound healing)

What is best for you?

  • Uncooked starches slow digestion over several hours. These may be a great option before bedtime to take you through the night if you find that your blood sugar drops while you sleep. Overnight hypoglycemia may result in higher morning blood sugar reading than the number you went to sleep with.
  • Resistant starches and tapioca dextrin slow digestion over a few hours. These would be ideal for snacks or if you miss a meal. Remember, you need to eat every 3-4 hours to reduce fluctuating blood sugar numbers.

NOTE: Digestion depends on each individual person as well as the type of carbohydrate found in the food.

Foods that mimic the action of these slower starches:

  • Protein – Low-fat cheese, eggs, nut butters, poultry, lean meat, fish, shellfish – mixed with a moderate amount of carbohydrate. For example, 6 crackers with low-fat cheese, or a fruit and ¼ cup low-fat cottage cheese, or ½ tuna or turkey sandwich on rye, pumpernickel or wholegrain bread.
  • Healthy fat – Nuts, nut butters, olives, avocado or guacamole mixed with a moderate amount of carbohydrate. For example, 12 tortilla chips with guacamole, or 1 fruit with 5-10 nuts or a tablespoon of nut butter.

More tasty and convenient snack suggestions to watch your calories and sugar:

The uncooked starches might be advantageous overnight since they digest over several hours – more so than the protein / fat / carb mixture.

Again, the best way to tell what works best for you is to test your blood sugar!

NOTE: Consult your doctor first to make sure my recommendations fit your special health needs.

Marci Sloane

Marci Sloane, MS, RD, LD/N, CDE, is a registered and licensed dietitian/nutritionist and certified diabetes educator. She grew up in NYC where she graduated with a degree in Nutrition and Physiology from Teachers College at Columbia University.