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 tablets or solution are 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.

Quick-sugar foods to help raise blood sugar footnote 1
Food Amount (15 g of fast-acting carbohydrate)
Glucose tablets (preferred choice) 3–4 tablets
Table sugar 1 tablespoon (15 mL) or 3 packets dissolved in water
Fruit juice or regular (not diet) soda pop ¾ cup (175 mL)
Hard candy like Life Savers 6 pieces
Honey (do not give to children younger than 1 year old) 1 tablespoon (15 mL)

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.



  1. Canadian Diabetes Association Clinical Practice Guidelines Expert Committee (2013). Hypoglycemia section of Canadian Diabetes Association 2013 clinical practice guidelines for the prevention and management of diabetes in Canada. Canadian Journal of Diabetes, 37(Suppl 1): S69–S71. Also available online:


ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer John Pope, MD - Pediatrics
Brian D. O'Brien, MD - Internal Medicine
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Stephen LaFranchi, MD - Pediatrics, Pediatric Endocrinology

Current as ofMay 22, 2015