Blood Sugar vs. Snacks: I Ran the Tests [Dark Chocolate, Popcorn, Almonds, Eggs]

Blood Sugar vs. Snacks: I Ran the Tests [Dark Chocolate, Popcorn, Almonds, Eggs]

Video | Blood Sugar Control | Almonds | Popcorn | Hard-boiled Eggs | Dark Chocolate | Results

Snacks that keep your blood sugar low limit the fat-storing hormone insulin and control hunger. I pitted four seemingly healthy snacks against each other and used a CGM (Continuous Glucose Monitor) to see how each one impacted my blood sugar. This blog post shares the best and worst snack results.

Blood Sugar vs. Snacks – At-A-Glance

  • A stable blood sugar level limits the fat-storing hormone insulin and controls hunger.
  • The best snacks for blood sugar control cause a minimal blood sugar spike immediately after eating and a stable or gentle blood sugar rise and fall in the two hours after consumption. 
  • In general, dietary fat is a macronutrient that causes little or no rise in blood sugar, protein causes a moderate rise, and carbs cause the highest rise. 
  • Very Good Snack: Hard-boiled Eggs have a good mix of fat and protein, which led to a stable blood sugar response.
  • Good Snack: Raw Almonds contain a healthy dose of fats and a near-equal amount of protein and carbs, which led to a gentle rise.
  • Not a Good Snack:  Dark Chocolate (72%) contains the same amount of fat and carbohydrate. It is also low in protein and fiber, which led to a moderate blood sugar spike.
  • Poor Snack: Plain Popcorn is mostly carbohydrate with a low fiber-to-carb ratio and minimal fat, which led to a big blood sugar spike and crash.

Blood Sugar vs. Snacks: I Ran the Tests (Video)

In this video, you’ll learn…

  • The benefits of maintaining a stable blood sugar.
  • Why adding fat to balance blood sugar is not a good idea.
  • The results of four tests and how they rank from best to worst.

Testing Snacks for Blood Sugar Control

The snacks I chose to test were almonds, popcorn, hard-boiled eggs, and dark chocolate. 200-calorie portions were used as a standard for comparison. I also ate each snack at 7 o’clock in the morning because I was in a fasted state, and it eliminated confounding variables like exercise. I did drink black coffee each morning. 

For easy comparison, I used my Levels app. If you’d like more information, I go into detail about the Levels app and using a CGM in the video above.

To win the best snack for blood sugar control honor, the snack must perform well in two ways. First, I want to see a minimal blood sugar spike immediately after eating it. Second, I want a stable or gentle blood sugar rise and fall in the two-hour period after consumption. 

The intensity of that first spike shows me how the food is affecting me. The degree of the rise and fall over time shows me how my body is handling the food. 

There are some accepted generalities when it comes to macronutrients and blood sugar. Specifically, eating dietary fat causes little or no rise in blood sugar, protein causes a moderate rise, and carbs cause the highest rise. 

The thing is that we don’t tend to snack on single-macronutrient foods. In other words, we don’t sit down and snack on a couple of tablespoons of butter, even though, in theory, that pure fat would provide a stable blood sugar response. Foods contain a mix of nutrients, so predictions are just guesses until you test.


I started with 200 calories of raw almonds (33.6g), which worked out to be 33 almonds. Like many raw nuts, almonds are a great example of a food with a mixture of macronutrients. This 200-calorie snack contains a healthy dose of hunger-satisfying fats (17.3g) and a near-equal amount of protein (7.3g) and carbs (7.5g). 

Two things almonds have going for them are the fact that fat is the most prominent nutrient and the snack has a good fiber-to-carb ratio. Specifically, this snack has 4.3g fiber and 7.5g carbs. That’s about a 1:2 fiber-to-carb ratio. 

Due to that fat and fiber content, I expected this snack to digest slowly, giving me a nice steady rise in my blood sugar over a two-hour period. 

Using my Levels app, I see from the 2-hour analysis that the almond snack did not cause an immediate blood sugar spike and resulted in a gentle 18 mg/dL rise in blood sugar. Levels assigned this snack a 7 out of 10, with 10 being the best food for blood sugar stability. 


That was a good response and what I expected. But how does it compare to the other snacks? 


The next snack I tested was popcorn. Popcorn is a whole-grain snack. It can technically be a low-carb snack if you stop eating it after a cup (1 cup = 6g of carbs). But that is a big if when you are faced with a bowl of popcorn. 

Remember that each snack was standardized to 200 calories. This was by far the most volume of the four snacks. So, I got up in the morning, poured myself a cup of black coffee, and dug into 6 ½ cups (52g) of plain popcorn, trying not to be a glutton but get the food in me as quickly as possible to keep the comparisons fair. In other words, it was not enjoyable. 

The protein content of the popcorn snack was close to that of the almonds, coming in at 6.7g, but that is where the similarities stopped. The popcorn contained over 40 grams (40.2g) of carbohydrates but only 7.5g of fiber. So, its fiber-to-carb ratio is not strong, at about a 1 to 5 ratio. This was also the lowest-fat snack, with only 2.3g of fat in the entire bowl. How did it fair? 

It caused an immediate, very steep spike of 150 points, followed by a crash that dropped me 23mg/dL lower than I was before eating it. That was not a favorable response. Levels assigned this popcorn snack a 1, which is a very poor showing. 


This poor response told me that the popcorn digested quickly, likely because there was not enough fat and fiber to slow absorption.

You might be wondering, “Would adding butter help?” Butter is fat, so we can assume that adding it to popcorn would blunt the blood sugar rise. However, does that mean it is better to eat popcorn with butter? 

If your only goal is stabilizing your blood sugar, then yes. If your goal is weight loss, there is more to the story. 

Butter will likely blunt the blood sugar response, but it will not halt it. You are getting a release of the fat-storing hormone insulin, and you are adding a lot more calories. If you are eating it while sitting on the couch watching a movie, you do not need that added energy, so your body will easily store much of the excess as fat.  

The bottom line on popcorn, it’s tricky. 

Evaluating Health Value

The bottom line of healthy snacking is that it is not solely dependent on its blood sugar response. But going too high too quickly and crashing, or going up and staying up, are valuable health clues. 

If your blood sugar rises steeply immediately after a meal, that means there was little in that meal to slow absorption. High blood sugar is a dangerous, inflammatory state for your body to be in. When blood sugar gets high, your pancreas releases insulin to clear it out of the blood. That is what happened inside of me after eating the popcorn. My blood sugar shot up, and insulin was released to bring it down. 

My body did what it was supposed to do. But, if you call on your pancreas to clean up the mess too often, your cells grow tired of taking in the excess sugar, and the stage is set for the development of insulin resistance

Levels is not meant to be a definitive test of insulin resistance. However, if you see your blood sugar stay high or bounce up and down at a higher-than-normal level, it may indicate that insulin is having a tough time doing its job. 

If you are seeing this happen, choose snacks that are high in protein and fat. The advantage is that those macronutrients do not spike blood sugar and insulin, so essentially, you are making insulin’s job easier. A good choice, in theory, is a hard-boiled egg. Let’s see how it ranked when put to the test. 

Hard-boiled Eggs

Eggs have a great macronutrient breakdown for blood sugar control because they are mostly protein (16.2g) and fat (13.7g), with very few carbs (1.4g). 

But did this promise of blood sugar control pan out when put to the test? Absolutely, yes. 

From the analysis, I see that eating 2 1/2 hard-boiled eggs (200 calories) as a snack did not spike my blood sugar and instead maintained it within a narrow range. That was a stable response with only a 12 mg/dL rise. 

What this stable response said to me is that my body did not have to pump out a lot of insulin to reestablish a normal blood sugar level. That is something I want. 

With one more snack to go, our comparison shows that eggs are in the lead with a Levels score of 9 out of 10. Let’s move on to dark chocolate. 

Dark Chocolate

There was a time in my life that having a legitimate reason to eat chocolate for breakfast would have been a dream come true. But, after following a healthy, low-carb diet for years, I am rarely hungry in the morning, so it was kind of disappointing. 

There are many dark chocolate brands with varying cacao content. I chose 72% cacao by Ghirardelli mainly because it is the one at the grocery store that always seems to be empty. I interpret that as it being the most popular one. 

Interestingly, 200 calories (36g) of this chocolate contain identical amounts of fat and carbohydrate (16.7g each). That combination is great for fat storage and appetite stimulation. And we can’t expect too much blood sugar stability with only 3.3g of protein and a low fiber-to-carb ratio of about 1 to 5 (3.3g of fiber to 16.7g of carbs).  

Also, dark chocolate is bitter compared to milk chocolate, so sugar often gets added. Even though this snack contains more than 70% cacao, which allows it to fall into the “healthy chocolate” category, sugar is the second ingredient. 

Will it cause a blood sugar rise that is significant enough to negate the health benefit? 

After seeing the results, I would say yes. The dark chocolates earned a Levels score of 4, elevating my blood sugar by 39 points.

Interestingly, dark chocolate raised my blood sugar, but it went up in steps, whereas the popcorn shot my blood sugar straight up. This is likely due to the fact that the chocolate was high in fat, blunting the blood sugar response. 

Blood Sugar vs. Snacks Results

There you have it. From the Levels scores, we see that hard-boiled eggs provide the best blood sugar stability, followed by raw almonds, dark chocolate, and popcorn. 

Blood Sugar vs. Snacks Results

Thank you for reading and have a wonderful week!

About the Author

Becky Gillaspy, DC, is the author of The Intermittent Fasting Guide and Cookbook. She graduated Summa Cum Laude with research honors from Palmer College of Chiropractic in 1991. 

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