It happens to all of us at one time or another during the day, sometimes even more than once. Maybe it’s late morning with lunch more than an hour away. Or it’s mid-afternoon and the bluesy blahs are settling in, the needle on our energy gauge about to hit zero. These are the times we need a healthy snack to restore our zip, but the question then becomes, what? What’s a healthy, energy-boosting snack that will lift us up and carry us through to the next bell?
At times like this, our thoughts often turn to caffeine – if not another cup of coffee, then maybe a diet soda with enough of a caffeine fix to last us a couple of hours, if we’re lucky. But we know we can do better than that, especially for those of us who prefer to steer clear of caffeine. The trick is finding a snack packed with protein and fiber and whatever else can toe the line between fighting off fatigue without making us crash and burn a little later, with more work time remaining on the clock.
Is there such a snack, something that is healthy for us, low in calories and yet can give us that much-needed supply of pep? Sure thing. Here are a dozen energy-boosting snacks to help you make it through the day, and not just in terms of fueling your bodies but perhaps also helping to cut through the clouds forming in our brains. Some of these you might have to spend 5-10 minutes preparing at home, then stick them in a fridge at work. That shouldn’t be too much trouble. In alphabetical order:
- Almonds. Loaded with protein, manganese, copper and riboflavin, per womansday.com. The copper and manganese help keep energy flowing in your body, neutralizing toxins in cells. Riboflavin has a role in producing oxygen-based energy.
- Apples. Its high fiber content means it takes longer for apples to digest, making for a smoother, longer energy pick-me-up. Add a bite or two of cheese to enhance that pickup quality.
- Bananas. A familiar item on many types of healthy-food lists, bananas are loaded with fiber, B vitamins and potassium – all nutrients known for contributing to sustained energy and muscle function.
- Dark chocolate. You’re beginning to like this, huh? Just don’t overdo it. A couple ounces in the morning or afternoon goes a long way. Dark chocolate contains flavonoids and serotonin, which between them can help with bad cholesterol and boost your mood. Remember, dark chocolate, not other varieties, and have no fear of the dark.
- Figs. Rich in iron, an essential energy nutrient, per elle.com. Fresh figs are preferred, but dried figs will work as a sub, but eat no more than four – anything more, and it starts to stimulate blood-sugar fluctuations, complete with dips in energy.
- Green smoothie. A definite crowd favorite, full of nutrients and vital enzymes, per naturallysavvy.com. Blend two or three of your favorite fruits – bananas, slice apples and strawberries, for instance – with some green veggies like avocados and spinach, add about eight ounces of water, and you’re off and running. A good fit any time of the day.
- Honey. Per womansday.com, honey is nature’s equivalent of an energy drink. It’s low on the glycemic index and works as a “time-released muscle fuel.” Spooning it straight out of a jar might not have a lot of appeal, but drizzle it onto some yogurt or afternoon tea, or grab a butter knife and spread it onto some healthy crackers, like flax crackers.
- Hummus. A Mediterranean dip consisting of pureed garbanzo beans, sesame-based tahini, olive oil and lemon juice, per everydayhealth.com. Trust us, very yummy and healthy. The beans provide fiber and protein to help stabilize blood sugar and boost energy. Makes a great sandwich spread as well.
- Pistachios. Provides a healthy combo of monounsaturated fats, fiber and protein, and not as calorie-dense as most nuts. Figure on about 100 calories for each large fistful of 25 pistachios. Great for all-day energy.
- Salmon. One of the favorite types of fish in the world, salmon is rich with omega-3 fatty acids that not only can improve memory and reduce depression but also boost energy and mood, says everydayhealth.com. Cook it at home and cut into small pieces, and bring a piece or two to work each day for that between-meal pickup.
- Soy crisps. A true snacker’s snack, the crisps are made of puffed soy protein and have more staying power than a bag of potato chips or pretzels, per fitnessmagazine.com.
- Yogurt. Most yogurt is rich in magnesium, which is crucial for the release of energy. The inclusion of calcium is a bonus. Great for a post-workout snack, too, to replenish the glycogen supply, per womansday.com.