Feeling cranky, distracted or headache-y? Foggy or groggy? If it's been hours since you've eaten lunch, it's likely that your blood sugar is low and it's time for a snack, says Frances Largeman-Roth, RDN, a Brooklyn-based dietitian and author of the upcoming book Smoothies & Juices: Prevention Healing Kitchen: 100+ Delicious Recipes for Optimal Wellness.
"Our energy levels take a natural dip around 3 to 4 p.m., and if we need a little boost and we don't provide our bodies with it, cravings can kick into overdrive," Largeman-Roth tells LIVESTRONG.com. And when you're feeling light-headed and ravenous, it's tough to resist the call of the vending machine.
That's why having an afternoon snack that has a combination of fiber, healthy fats and protein is smart for keeping blood sugar steady until dinner, Largeman-Roth says.
From salty to sweet, these seven best snacks for low blood sugar will help you stave off the midafternoon slump and any unhealthy junk food hankerings.
1. Grecian Popcorn
A whole grain, popcorn is a good source of filling fiber, which will keep your blood sugar stable and your stomach satisfied. Indeed, you'll get 7 grams of craving-crushing fiber with just one serving of this savory snack, which adds up to a hefty three cups.
"This recipe is also especially nice because it provides lots of flavor from fresh citrus, garlic and dill," Largeman-Roth says.
Get the Grecian Popcorn recipe and nutritional info here.
2. Roasted Carrot Hummus
"Healthy fats, fiber and plant protein combine in this flavorful hummus, providing a tasty mid-afternoon pick-me-up," Largeman-Roth says.
This savory spread replaces chickpeas with roasted carrots, which can be seasoned with fresh rosemary or thyme to add even more appeal to your palate. For a little more fiber, serve with whole-grain crackers.
Get the Roasted Carrot Hummus recipe and nutritional info here.
3. No-Bake Granola Bars
"These homemade granola bars are delicious and filled with 4 grams of soluble fiber from whole-grain oats and 5 grams of satisfying protein from raw almonds and creamy peanut butter," Largemam-Roth says.
Chewy dates and honey provide natural sweetness, too, while dried cranberries round out these flavorful bars with a tad of tanginess.
** Get the No-Bake Granola Bars recipe and nutritional info here.**
Don't have time to grind out your own granola? Largeman-Roth recommends store-bought bars by Bob's Red Mill. Made with wholesome ingredients, they're a great way to boost your energy when your sugar levels dip midday.
4. Mini Banana-Almond Butter Sandwiches
When the midafternoon slump kicks in, sometimes what you need is a quick-and-easy snack, stat.
"It doesn't get any simpler than almond butter and a banana," Largeman-Roth says.
Not only does this two-ingredient snack take two minutes to make, it's also the perfect balance of macros: "You get an energy boost from the carbs in the banana, and healthy fat and protein from the almond butter," she says.
Get the Mini Banana-Almond Butter Sandwiches recipe and nutritional info here.
5. Chocolate Dessert Hummus
This healthy dessert dip will satisfy your midday sweet cravings minus all the guilt.
"Protein and fiber-rich garbanzo beans combine with cocoa and a little bit of sugar (only 7 grams per serving) for a chocolate hummus that feels like a treat," says Largeman-Roth.
For a real palate-pleaser (and a hearty dose of vitamin C), serve with juicy strawberries.
Get the Chocolate Dessert Hummus recipe and nutritional info here.
6. Easy Vanilla Chia Seed Pudding with Blueberries
The mighty chia seed steals the show in this simple recipe that only requires three ingredients: chia seeds, almond milk and blueberries.
"Chia seeds provide ALA omega-3 fatty acids, along with fiber, making them a great ingredient for a satisfying snack," Largeman-Roth says, adding that "antioxidant-packed blueberries offer another fiber boost for a whopping 9 grams per serving!"
Get the Easy Vanilla Chia Seed Pudding with Blueberries recipe and nutritional info here.
7. Goji Berry, Almond and Cacao Trail Mix
With only whole-food ingredients — cacao nibs, goji berries and raw almonds — this homemade trail mix has all the nutrition you need and none of the additives or preservatives you find in store-bought varieties.
"Packed with both fiber and flavor, this trail mix is ready to keep you going all afternoon long!" says Largeman-Roth.
The best part? It's mess-free and portable. Toss some in a Ziplock and voila — an instant on-the-go snack.
Get the Goji Berry, Almond and Cacao Trail Mix recipe and nutritional info here.