Quick-Sugar Foods

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 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


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

2/3 cup (150 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. Diabetes Canada Clinical Practice Guidelines Expert Committee, et al. (2018). Targets for glycemic control. Canadian Journal of Diabetes, 42(Suppl 1): S42–S46. DOI: 10.1016/j.jcjd.2017.10.030. Accessed October 15, 2018.


Current as of:
July 28, 2021

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
John Pope MD - Pediatrics
Brian D. O'Brien MD - Internal Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Stephen LaFranchi MD - Pediatrics, Pediatric Endocrinology
Rhonda O'Brien MS, RD, CDE - Certified Diabetes Educator
Colleen O'Connor PhD, RD - Registered Dietitian