25 No Added Sugar Snack Ideas

These 25 no added sugar snack ideas are great for runners, athletes or anyone looking to cut back on added sugar. Plus, get the facts on natural versus added sugar.

Sugar has a terrible reputation, but it’s not all bad. As a matter of fact, sugar in the form of carbohydrates is the natural fuel source for exercise. But here’s the thing–not all sugar is created equal.

25 No Added Sugar Snack Ideas. Great Natural Fuel for athletes or snacks for anyone trying to cut back on added sugar! #snacks #healthy #lowsugar #nosugar

What’s the difference between added and natural sugar?

Added sugar is probably what comes to mind when you hear the word “sugar.” It’s found in products like soda, energy drinks, and candy, and it hides in some pasta sauces, salad dressings and breads.

The 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends limiting added sugars to no more than 10% of your daily calories, or about 12 teaspoons (48 grams) on a 2,000-calorie diet. In other words, some added sugar is perfectly okay, and trying to cut it out entirely is extremely difficult and can cause some major eating anxiety.

On the other hand, eating too much added sugar can cause cavities, an increased risk of heart disease and obesity, which can lead to additional health problems like Type 2 Diabetes and high blood pressure.

Natural sugars, on the other hand, are inherently found in certain foods. Any food that contains carbohydrates, such as fruit, dairy products, vegetables, and whole grains, has natural sugar. While a bottle of soda and a banana both have sugar in them, the natural sugar in the banana is paired with other nutrients and provides more of a nutritional bang for your buck.

Since only 10% of your calories should come from added sugar, but most people need 50-60% of their calories from carbs, natural sugar sources should make up 40-50% of your daily calories.

Read more about natural versus added sugars and get my list of natural fueling foods in The No-Brainer Nutrition Guide For Every Runner.

Here are 25 natural sugar snack options to help fuel your workouts and keep you energized throughout the day.

1. Fruit

Any fruit is a great addition to the diet. The humble banana is the best of both worlds–easy to digest natural sugar and a tasty and portable snack.

2. Nuts

Packed with nutrients like protein and omega-3’s, nuts are a healthy and filling non-perishable snack. Just try to keep the portion to a small handful since they are high in calories (To spice things up, try these Cinnamon Roasted Almonds).

cinnamon roasted almonds

3. Oatmeal

Want a filling breakfast that will keep you full and energized? Whip-up this recipe for Loaded Oatmeal with SunButter to get an extra dose of protein and vitamins and minerals such as vitamin E and iron.

4. Popcorn

Did you know that popcorn is a whole grain? Buy plain kernels, make it on the stovetop and add your favorite toppings, such as sea salt or cinnamon and unsweetened cocoa powder. For a spicy kick, try this Spicy Cocoa Popcorn.

5. Plain Greek Yogurt

Unsweetened Greek yogurt may make your face pucker, but it’s  easily sweetened up with some fresh fruit or unsweetened dried fruit. As a bonus, Greek yogurt is higher in protein than regular yogurt, making it a good choice for post-workout. Use it in a smoothie with fruit, and you won’t need any added sugar!

6. Cheese

Another good source of post-exercise protein and tasty to boot, a cheese stick is a 100-calorie portable snack!

7. Pancakes

Yes, pancakes! You may not think of pancakes as being a healthy food option, but it’s all in how you make them. This recipe for Blueberry Pecan Pancakes contains whole grains, healthy fats, protein, and antioxidants. Eat them before or after your morning workout.

healthy pancake recipe

8. Dates

These dried fruits are the perfect natural sweetener. Eat them on their own for a sweet treat, add them to a pre-workout smoothie or try these Peanut Butter Pretzel Date Balls. 

Recipe for Peanut Butter Pretzel Date Balls. Pre-workout energy balls #preworkout #vegansnack #snack #fuel

9. Sweet Potatoes

This tuber is a nutritional powerhouse. They are packed with anti-inflammatory compounds called carotenoids, and they are exceptionally high in potassium, which can help with muscle contraction and fluid balance.

Watermelon Lime Ice Cubes are a great way to flavor water without any added sugar. The perfect refreshing drink for summer. Whip up a batch and store them in your freezer! #watermelon #flavoredwater #noaddedsugar #vegan #hydration

10. Fruit Ice Cubes

Looking for substitution for a sugar sweetened beverage? Fruit infused water is an easy way to add flavor to your drinks without sugar. These Watermelon Lime Ice Cubes will help keep you cool and hydrated during summer workouts.

11. Eggs

Though they are traditionally thought of as a breakfast food, eggs can be eaten at any time of day. Scrambled, hard boiled or poached, there are many ways to enjoy this vegetarian source of protein and B12. Spice up your egg routine with these Green Egg & Quinoa Muffins or Freezer Mushrooms & Egg Burrito.

12. Peanut Butter

This nut butter is so easy to pair with other foods, like toast, oatmeal or smoothies. Just make sure to read the label to avoid unnecessary added ingredients such as sugar.

13. Veggies

There are so many ways to eat vegetables. You can go simple by just cutting up some carrots or cucumber sticks, or get a little fancier by trying recipes such as this one for Crinkle Cut Jicama Fries. Either way you’re going be eating a nutritionally dense food that gives you a large number of nutrients for the compared to the number of calories.

14. Pretzels

Pretzels are a tasty low-calorie carbohydrate source. The salt on pretzels can even be a good source of sodium for athletes who have lost a lot through sweating. While some pretzels do have added sugars, others do not. Again, read that label!

15. Edamame

Many stores, like Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods, sell bags of frozen edamame. Just pop them into the microwave for a couple of minutes, sprinkle on some salt, and you have yourself a healthy, high protein snack.

16.Cereal with Milk

This is another snack where reading the back label is important. There are quite a few healthier cereals on the market that contain whole grains, are fortified with important vitamins and minerals, and have no added sugars. Plus, the milk offers additional calcium and protein.

17.Tuna Fish

Canned tuna is packed with protein and omega-3s, and research has shown that including fish in your diet can help to prevent heart disease and rheumatoid arthritis. Make a tuna salad with low-fat mayo, or simply scoop it on some crackers for a filling snack.

18. Pasta

Yes, this one is could be considered more of a meal than a snack, but when it comes to carb loading for a long event, pasta is an easy go too. For an extra dose of fiber choose a whole grain option. To make it a meal, combine pasta with veggie meatballs.

Lentil Veggie Meatball

19. Chickpeas

Chickpeas can be turned into hummus for dipping vegetables in, or roasted to create a crunchy, satisfying snack. These two recipes for Crunchy Chickpeas are low in calories, but rich in filling protein.

20. Wasa Crackers

Not only are these crackers a delicious vehicle for additional toppings like peanut butter or hummus, they also contain just a few simple ingredients.

21. Natural Applesauce

Although some applesauce brands add a decent amount of sugar to them, you can find some that are just apple and spices, like cinnamon.

22. Avocado

Creamy and full of unsaturated fat, avocados can be mashed on top of toast, mixed in with cottage cheese, or eaten plain with a little bit of salt. Avocados also contain anti-inflammatory antioxidants which are great for exercise recovery. Put some mashed avocado on toast with a splash of lime juice and freshly cut radishes.

Avocado toast with radish and lime

23. Smoothies

There’s already a few items in this list that you could add to a smoothie, but smoothies themselves can also be a healthy snack option. Sweeten your smoothie with ripe bananas, natural coconut water or dates in place of sugar. Get my post work-out smoothie formula here!

24. Hummus

This chickpea based snack is rich in protein and fiber and completely free of added sugar. Plus, it pairs well with veggies, crackers or pretzels. If you’re bored with the original, give this Turmeric Hummus a try.

Recipe for Roasted Garlic and Turmeric Hummus. #vegan #healthyside #protein #appetizer #hummus #turmeric #antiinflammatory

25. Jerky

This is a super portable, high-protein snack option. To avoid added sugar, skip the jerkies that have a marinade like teriyaki and be sure to check the ingredients list.

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6 Comments

  • Reply
    Tawnie Kroll
    November 6, 2018 at 10:39 am

    These are such great ideas – pinning now to reference later when I need a yummy snack! Thank you!

  • Reply
    Meme
    November 9, 2018 at 12:18 pm

    I am always looking for healthy snack options low in sugar! All of these sound so good!

  • Reply
    Liz Shaw
    November 9, 2018 at 2:45 pm

    What innovative ideas- and great pictures! I can’t wait to try the jicama fries!

  • Reply
    Lindsey
    November 11, 2018 at 9:01 am

    Pinning this! I have a lot of clients and readers who are often looking for no added sugar snacks!

  • Reply
    Lorie
    November 11, 2018 at 11:46 pm

    I have a couple friends who are ultra athletes who are asking me to make them some good snacks for their runs. Keeping this list handy!

  • Reply
    Emily Kyle
    November 13, 2018 at 1:50 pm

    So many great ideas! The cinnamon roasted nuts are my favorite!

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