Perhaps you're hours away from a lunch break and your stomach is already rumbling or maybe you're in need of a quick afternoon snack that will power you through the rest of the work day. When it comes to choosing a snack with staying power, there are certain superfoods that will give you energy. The key is a combination of carbs, fat and protein — the only three nutrients that provide your body and brain with true energy. Plus, many other vitamins, minerals and nutrients we consume, like magnesium, iron and fiber, support our cellular processes for energy and help stabilize our blood-sugar levels for longer-lasting energy.
Science has shown snacking can increase performance, but high-sugar snacks lead to increased tension and the tendency to burn and crash. So for a sustained energy boost, resist the candy dish and eat snacks that include a combo of protein and fat and/or high-fiber carbohydrates.
So what foods give you the most energy? Here are a few of my favorite pick-me-up and keep-me-going snacks:
1. Celery with peanut butter
This is no trendy new snack option, but this satisfyingly crunchy classic provides you with protein and even contributes to your hydration. Why does peanut butter give you energy? Peanuts contain more protein than any other nut to help you stay satisfied through the afternoon. They’re also a source of fiber, meaning they can help stabilize your blood sugar versus giving you a sugar high and crash like the gummy bears you hide in your desk.
2. Salmon on sprouted-grain toast
This may not seem like a traditional afternoon snack, but you may want to consider it. Salmon is high in omega-3 fatty acids, the kind you want when your brain is in need of a boost. These fats are praised for their direct actions on the brain. Pairing these healthy fats with carbohydrates from whole grains is a great way to get a combo of quick and long-lasting energy. If you can, choose sprouted-grain bread. In addition to fiber, studies show sprouted grains may contain more essential amino acids and B vitamins, antioxidants and folate.
3. Greek yogurt with raspberries
If you’re a regular sweet snacker, this is a way to satisfy a sweet tooth without going into a sugar overdose that leads to crashing. Berries provide carbohydrates for energy and a whole lot of fiber and antioxidants to boot.
Pair this powerhouse fruit with a protein-dense snack that also contains satiating fat like yogurt. This combo will certainly keep you going while you power through that spreadsheet — and will also stop you from diving head first into the bread basket at dinner.
4. Roasted chickpeas
Toss the potato chips, this pop-able, crunchy choice is a great source of plant protein. Because of its slow-carbohydrate absorption, you’ll get longer lasting energy compared to other quick fixes you might find in the vending machine. Pair your roasted chickpeas with nori for a snack with a dose of antioxidants and flavor.
5. Turkey roll-up
This is another high-protein snack option to consider when your head feels like hitting your desk. Compared to high-fat only snacks, eating less energy dense, high-protein snacks will be a better bet for boosting your energy, and can even improve appetite control and satiety.
Roll up some slices (make sure they are organic and nitrite-free), add some mustard and wrap ‘em up in a leaf of romaine, and you can even add a little ‘kraut or pickled veggies for a boost in flavor and gut health.