Locations:
Search IconSearch

Quick Snacks To Help Kick Your Sugar Craving

Fuel your body with healthy options that combine fiber-rich carbs, lean protein and healthy fats

Bowl of almonds and plate of dried apricots.

Ah, sugar. Most of us turn to sugary snacks to help us get through the day. It’s a hard habit to break, for sure.

Advertisement

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

While foods like pastries, desserts and candy are full of sugar, you may not realize that some other popular snacks contain hidden sugar — granola, breakfast cereal and protein bars, to just name a few.

Those snacks may provide a shot of quick rocket-fuel energy, but often result with you crashing by the end of the day.

According to the American Heart Association, women should eat no more than 25 grams (6 teaspoons or 100 calories) of sugar per day. Men should eat no more than 36 grams (9 teaspoons or 150 calories) per day.

So, how can you overcome that afternoon or late-night sugar craving? It’s all about making sure you’re picking snacks that’ll help fuel your body in the best way.

“For every snack, you should choose a fiber-rich carbohydrate with either a lean protein or a healthy fat,” says registered dietitian Anna Taylor, MS, RD, LD, CDCES.

Carbohydrates are digested and absorbed fastest, while proteins are digested and absorbed faster than fat, but slower than carbohydrates. And fats are digested and absorbed the slowest.

“You want to pick a fast fuel with a slower fuel,” says Taylor. “And you don’t want your fast fuel to burn up too quickly, so choose a high-fiber carb to help extend that initial burst of energy.”

What to eat when you’re craving sugar

Looking for a snack that will satisfy that sugar carving but is also healthy? Taylor suggests the following five options.

Apricots and almonds

Dried fruits and nuts can help you have a healthy snack on hand when you’re on the go.

Apricots provide carbohydrates, as well as vitamins and minerals. Almonds provide fiber, protein and healthy fats. And they don’t contain any added sugar unlike a lot of dried fruit varieties.

“When you put those two together, you’re getting fuel for now with the apricots and then fuel for later with the almonds,” notes Taylor.

A serving includes three dried apricots and 12 almonds.

Greek yogurt and cinnamon

Greek yogurt has lots of protein, which is a slower-burning fuel than carbs.

Pair it with cinnamon, which research shows may have anti-inflammatory properties and may impact blood sugar levels in a positive way, is an easy way to add flavor.

For this snack, add a pinch of cinnamon to a 3/4 cup of plain low-fat Greek yogurt.

“You can also add a 1/2 cup of frozen or fresh mango or blueberries to the snack to give it some more flavor,” suggests Taylor.

Peanut butter and an apple

It’s a tried-and-true favorite for a reason. Not only does a small apple with peanut butter taste good, but it’s also good for you.

And make sure you eat the apple peel in addition to its fleshy insides.

“You’ll get two kinds of fiber,” explains Taylor. “You’ll get insoluble fiber from the outside and soluble fiber from the inside.”

Then slathering on 1 tablespoon of peanut butter will add protein and healthy fat. But it’s important to watch how much peanut butter you actually use.

“A lot of people like to keep adding peanut butter to their apple and they end up with a 500-calorie snack,” cautions Taylor. “But if you keep it to 1 tablespoon and a small apple, you’re looking at less than 200 calories.”

Cottage cheese and blueberries

“Berries are some of the best fruit when it comes to fiber, especially blueberries, which are a very fiber-rich fruit,” says Taylor. “And they’re also convenient because you can buy them frozen.”

Advertisement

They’re also a great source of fiber-rich carbohydrates.

Add a cup of fresh or frozen blueberries to a 1/2 cup of low-fat cottage cheese.

“Low-fat cottage cheese is a fantastic protein source,” says Taylor. “It has almost no carbs in it, so that’s why it’s important that you get in that full serving of berries to give you fuel for right now.”

Hummus and raw veggies

A cup of raw veggies like carrots, celery, broccoli and bell peppers can add some variety to your afternoon snack while also touting many benefits.

“Veggies have a good amount of fiber, plus tons of vitamins and minerals,” says Taylor. “If you eat veggies of different colors, you’ll get lots of different phytonutrients that provide additional health benefits.”

Pair your choice of raw veggies with a 1/4 cup of hummus.

“Hummus has a little bit of fiber, a little bit of protein, a little bit of carbs and some healthy fats as well,” says Taylor.

And overcome the desire to pair hummus with pita chips or crackers. Veggies are key here.

“By eating pita chips or crackers, you’ll be getting a lot more carbs and less fiber,” says Taylor.

22-HHB-3180867 - Kick Your Sugar Cravings

Tips for curbing sugar cravings

As mentioned, it’s vital that you combine a fiber-rich carbohydrate with either a lean protein or a healthy fat to help stave off those sugar cravings.

Here are some other ways you can try to limit your sugar cravings and keep your energy flowing:

  • Drink water throughout the day. The National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine recommends women drink 91 ounces (2.7 liters) of water each day, while men should drink 125 ounces (3.7 liters) of water daily. But factors like your metabolism, diet, physical activity and health all should be a factor in how much water you need.
  • Eating regularly throughout the day. “Skipping meals is probably going to set you up for overeating later,” warns Taylor.
  • Make smart choices while grocery shopping. “Your grocery basket should be full of food, not products,” says Taylor.
  • Get moving. “Getting up and moving around, especially if you sit at a computer all day, will help with energy levels,” she adds.
  • Prioritize sleep. The National Sleep Foundation recommends adults aged 26 to 64 get seven to nine hours each night, while those 65 years or older should aim for seven to eight hours.

By putting thought into what type of snacks you’re eating and limiting bad-for-you ingredients, you can make smart choices that will lead to a healthier, more energetic lifestyle.

“Eating healthy is about building the foundation with great foods that are going to help you,” says Taylor, “and also decreasing the focus of some of those foods that aren’t so good for you.”

Advertisement

Learn more about our editorial process.

Related Articles

Plate with beef, eggs, avocado, leafy greens and apricots, with multi-grain bread, walnuts, sweet potato and yogurt
July 11, 2024/Women's Health
What To Eat and Foods To Avoid While Breastfeeding

A well-balanced diet of whole grains, salmon, leafy greens and more can help maintain energy and increase milk supply

Happy, smiling child running amidst floating snacks
July 5, 2024/Nutrition
Sugar: How Bad Are Sweets for Your Kids?

Too much added sugar early in life is linked to obesity, high blood pressure and Type 2 diabetes

Sliced grilled chicken over salad
How To Follow a Healthy MS Diet

A variety of healthy foods can help reduce inflammation and keep other conditions at bay

Person standing in front of oversized nutrition label, reading it
June 19, 2024/Nutrition
What Can You Learn From a Nutrition Label?

Information on serving size, calories and nutrients can help you make healthy choices

Containers of healthy fruit, nut and whole-wheat cracker snacks
June 18, 2024/Nutrition
How To Snack Like a Pro While at Work

With a little planning, you can fill your belly and boost your energy

Piles of sugar alcohol
June 17, 2024/Nutrition
What You Should Know About Sugar Alcohols

Often labeled as ‘diabetes-friendly’ or ‘calorie-free,’ these sugar substitutes warrant caution

Bowl of artificial sweetener with a spoonful
June 7, 2024/Heart Health
Eating Foods With Xylitol Can Be a Risk to Your Heart

Xylitol in processed food can increase risk of heart attack and stroke — but there’s no danger in xylitol in oral care products

Person contemplating healthy food choices with protein
June 7, 2024/Nutrition
How Much Protein Do You Need? And How To Get It

The general rule is 0.8 to 1 gram of protein per kilogram of body weight — but that may not be right for you

Trending Topics

Female and friend jogging outside
How To Increase Your Metabolism for Weight Loss

Focus on your body’s metabolic set point by eating healthy foods, making exercise a part of your routine and reducing stress

stovetop with stainless steel cookware and glassware
5 Ways Forever Chemicals (PFAS) May Affect Your Health

PFAS chemicals may make life easier — but they aren’t always so easy on the human body

jar of rice water and brush, with rice scattered around table
Could Rice Water Be the Secret To Healthier Hair?

While there’s little risk in trying this hair care treatment, there isn’t much science to back up the claims

Ad