Quick-Sugar Foods

Topic Overview

If you are at risk for low blood sugar levels because of diabetes or some other health condition, you need to keep with you at all times some type of food that can quickly raise your blood sugar level. Eating quick-sugar food puts glucose into your bloodstream in about 5 minutes. Glucose or sucrose is the best choice.

Choose foods that contain about 15 grams of fast-acting carbohydrate. This table is just a guide. So check the nutrition label of the quick-sugar food you use to be sure it equals about 15 grams of carbohydrate.

Foods to help raise blood sugar1, 2, 3
Food Amount
Glucose tablets 3–4 tablets
Glucose gel 1 tube
Table sugar 1 tablespoon (3 teaspoons)
Fruit juice or regular soda pop ½–¾ cup (4–6 ounces)
Fat-free milk 1 cup (8 ounces)
Honey 1 tablespoon (3 teaspoons)
Jellybeans 10–15
Raisins 2 tablespoons
Gum drops 10
Candy like Life Savers 5–7 pieces
Hard candy (like Jolly Rancher) 3 pieces

These quick-sugar foods will help raise your blood sugar in an emergency, because they are made from almost all carbohydrate. If you use a food not on this list to treat your low blood sugar, be sure it does not contain fat or protein. These can slow how quickly your body absorbs the carbohydrate. For example, regular cake frosting is made with both sugar and fat. It is not a good choice as a quick-sugar food. Some clear cake frosting and clear cake gels are made without fat. But you should check the ingredients and the nutrition label to be sure. When in doubt, ask your doctor or registered dietitian.

References

Citations

  1. American Diabetes Association (2011). Carbs: Fast! Available online: http://forecast.diabetes.org/diabetes-101/carbs-fast.
  2. Warshaw H, Kulkarni K (2011). The Complete Guide to Carb Counting, 3rd ed. Alexandria, VA: American Diabetes Association.
  3. American Diabetes Association (2010). Hypoglycemia. Available online: http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/parents-and-kids/planet-d/new-to-diabetes/hypoglycemia.html.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer John Pope, MD - Pediatrics
Specialist Medical Reviewer Stephen LaFranchi, MD - Pediatrics, Pediatric Endocrinology
Last Revised January 23, 2012

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