What Are the 5 Worst Foods for Blood Sugar?

Ever felt shaky or cranky after eating? Your food choices might be to blame. 

What you eat can make your blood sugar go up and down like a roller coaster. 

This isn’t good for your energy, mood, or health.

Top 5 Worst Foods for Blood Sugar

Let’s talk about the five worst foods for blood sugar. But first, we need to understand a bit about how food affects our blood sugar.

Fact Checked By: Current Capsule Health Portal

Understanding the Glycemic Index

Not all foods affect blood sugar the same way. Some foods make it go up fast, while others make it rise slowly. To help us know which foods do what, we use something called the glycemic index (GI).

The GI ranks foods from 0 to 100 based on how fast they make blood sugar rise. Here’s how it works:

  • Low GI foods: 0-55
  • Medium GI foods: 56-69
  • High GI foods: 70-100

Foods with a low GI are usually better for keeping blood sugar steady. High GI foods can make it spike quickly.

For people with diabetes, knowing about GI can be really helpful. It’s one tool they can use to manage their blood sugar, along with watching portion sizes and taking their medicine.

But even if you don’t have diabetes, eating more low GI foods can be good for you. It might help prevent big swings in your blood sugar that can make you feel tired or grumpy.

Now, let’s look at the top 5 worst foods for blood sugar:

1. High-Sugar Drinks

Drinks with lots of sugar are really bad for your blood sugar. They’re also linked to health problems like obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.

Here are some high-sugar drinks to watch out for:

Soda Soda is basically sugar water with bubbles. It has no good nutrients and lots of calories. It can make your blood sugar shoot up fast.

Try this instead: Sparkling water with a squeeze of lemon or lime.

Fruit Juice Even 100% fruit juice can be a problem. It has some vitamins, but it’s still very high in sugar. Your body absorbs this sugar quickly, making your blood sugar rise fast.

Try this instead: Eat whole fruit. It has fiber that slows down sugar absorption. Or, if you really want juice, have a small glass with a meal that includes protein and fiber.

Energy Drinks These often have lots of sugar and caffeine. They can make your blood sugar and heart rate go up quickly.

Try this instead: Plain black coffee. It has caffeine but no sugar. Just don’t drink more than 4 cups a day.

2. Refined Carbohydrates

Refined carbs are grains that have had their fiber and nutrients removed. This makes them easier to cook and last longer on the shelf. But it also means they can make your blood sugar rise quickly.

Here are some common refined carbs:

White Bread White bread is made from flour that’s been stripped of its fiber and nutrients. It can make your blood sugar rise very fast.

Try this instead: Whole grain bread. It has more fiber and nutrients. Or, if you do eat white bread, have it with protein and veggies to slow down digestion.

Pasta Regular pasta is made from refined flour. It can cause a quick rise in blood sugar, especially if you eat a lot.

Try this instead: Whole wheat pasta or pasta made from beans or lentils. These have more fiber and protein.

Pastries and Cake These are often high in sugar and refined flour. They can cause a rapid blood sugar spike.

Try this instead: A small piece of dark chocolate or a homemade treat with less sugar and whole grain flour.

White Rice Like white bread, white rice has had its fiber removed. This means it can cause a quick rise in blood sugar.

Try this instead: Brown rice or other whole grains like quinoa or barley.

Cereals Many breakfast cereals are high in sugar and low in fiber. Even some that seem healthy can cause blood sugar spikes.

Try this instead: Look for cereals with whole grains as the first ingredient and at least 4 grams of fiber per serving. Add some nuts or seeds for extra protein and healthy fat.

3. Processed Snacks

Processed snacks are often high in refined carbs, unhealthy fats, and salt. They can cause quick rises in blood sugar and don’t provide many nutrients.

Here are some processed snacks to watch out for:

Chips Potato chips are high in refined carbs and unhealthy fats. They can cause a quick rise in blood sugar.

Try this instead: Whole grain crackers with cheese or nut butter.

Pretzels Though they’re baked, not fried, pretzels are still made from refined flour. They can cause a rapid blood sugar spike.

Try this instead: If you want something crunchy, try raw veggies with hummus.

Energy Bars Many energy bars are basically candy bars in disguise. They can be high in sugar and cause blood sugar spikes.

Try this instead: Look for bars with whole food ingredients and less than 10 grams of sugar. Or make your own trail mix with nuts and a small amount of dried fruit.

4. Deep-Fried Foods

Deep-fried foods are often high in unhealthy fats and refined carbs. They can disrupt blood sugar control and may increase the risk of type 2 diabetes.

Here are some deep-fried foods to limit:

French Fries Potatoes are already high on the glycemic index. Frying them in oil adds unhealthy fats and makes them even worse for blood sugar.

Try this instead: Roasted sweet potato wedges. Sweet potatoes have a lower GI than white potatoes.

Donuts Donuts are made from refined flour and sugar, then deep-fried. They can cause a rapid rise in blood sugar.

Try this instead: If you’re craving something sweet, try a piece of fruit with a small handful of nuts.

5. Brown and White Sugar

Both brown and white sugar are “added sugars.” They add calories without any nutrients. They also make blood sugar rise very quickly.

Try this instead: If you need sweetness, try using a small amount of natural sweeteners like stevia or monk fruit. Or better yet, train your taste buds to enjoy less sweet foods.


  • Q: What’s the main enemy of diabetes? 

A: Extra body weight is a big problem for diabetes. Losing weight can really help control blood sugar. It’s also important to check blood sugar regularly, eat a balanced diet, and exercise.

  • Q: Does brown rice spike blood sugar? 

A: Brown rice has a lower GI than white rice, but it can still raise blood sugar. The good news is that brown rice seems to help with weight control better than white rice.

  • Q: Can people with diabetes eat hot dogs? 

A: People with diabetes should be careful with processed foods like hot dogs. If you do eat them, watch your portion size and check your blood sugar to see how they affect you.

Key Takeaways:

  • Keeping blood sugar steady is good for your energy, mood, and health.
  • Foods with carbs affect blood sugar the most. The glycemic index tells us how quickly different carb foods raise blood sugar.
  • The worst foods for blood sugar are high-sugar drinks, refined carbs, processed snacks, deep-fried foods, and added sugars.
  • If you have diabetes, it’s important to watch your carbs and check your blood sugar regularly.

Remember, you don’t have to completely cut out all these foods. The key is to eat them less often and in smaller amounts. 

When you do eat them, try to balance them with foods that are good for blood sugar, like proteins, healthy fats, and high-fiber foods.

Eating for steady blood sugar doesn’t have to be boring. There are lots of tasty, healthy foods that can help keep your blood sugar in check. 

With a little planning and some smart swaps, you can enjoy your food and take care of your health at the same time.


Note: This article is for educational purposes only. Always talk to your doctor or a registered dietitian for personal medical advice.

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