Raise your hand if you find yourself reaching for some coffee and a few packets of candy at 3 pm more often than not. Same. That mid-afternoon slump is real. So we turned to Alissa Rumsey, a New York City-based dietitian and the author of “Unapologetic Eating,” and Marisa Moore, an Atlanta-based registered dietitian nutritionist, for their expertise on what makes a filling afternoon snack that’ll provide some much needed energy. Because sometimes you wanna switch up your go-tos (think: apples and peanut butter, veggies and hummus, or cheese and crackers) with snacks that are a little more portable.
First up, some fact versus fiction:
Snacking isn’t bad for you.
Both Moore and Rumsey agree that snacking gets the short end of the stick. “Snacking tends to get a bad rap, when in fact it can be a helpful way to boost your energy and nourish your body between meals,” Rumsey says.
“It’s a great way to fill in some of the nutrient gaps that maybe you missed with some of your meals,” Moore adds. “But the key is planning for it. And making the right choices. If you constantly find that you’re really hungry at 3 o’clock every day, there’s a really good chance that maybe you didn’t eat enough at lunch. So you might want to either adjust the time for your lunch, or make sure you’re having more to eat.”
Carbs aren’t your enemy.
Especially when eaten with other macronutrients (like proteins and fats). “When it comes to choosing a snack, there’s no perfect formula,” Rumsey says. But there are some key things you can look out for. Namely: a snack that has carbs, protein, and fat, plus some fiber. “Each nutrient works in different ways to communicate to your body that you are full. Carbohydrates provide energy while protein, fat, and fiber help to sustain that energy by keeping you full and satisfied for longer,” Rumsey says.
Protein isn’t only for bodybuilders.
It’s actually a vital component in any promising afternoon snack.“Having a meal without protein is just setting you up for voracious hunger in a couple of hours,” Moore says. She recommends looking for at least 6 or 7 grams of protein in your afternoon snack sesh, and when possible, adding in 3–5 grams of fiber as well to help keep you full (like almonds). “Protein will really help [give] you the extra staying power that you need to get through the rest of the day.” Though she notes that the ideal amount of protein will vary based on many factors, like height, weight, and activity level.
Brain-boosting foods are legit...sort of.
There are certain foods that contain nutrients like anthocyanin (that’s the color pigment that’s in cherries and blueberries) and they’ve been associated with better brain health, according to Moore. But that comes with a catch. “You can’t just isolate one food and eat that, and expect that to give you miraculous results. There’s really synergy in eating a variety of different foods,” she says. So, yes, adding things like blueberries, nuts, and sardines to your snacktime regime is great. But don’t expect to eat ‘em at 3 pm and suddenly feel like Wonder Woman by 3:15 pm.
Keep the added sugar to a minimum if you want to avoid crashes.
According to Moore, overdoing it on the sugar can cause some spiking in your blood. (Which can lead to fatigue and a variety of other health problems.) So if you want something that’ll provide a good-for-you afternoon boost, look for a snack with that magic mix of macronutrients and stay on the lower end of the added sugar category.
Healthy snacks worth buying online:
And now some of our snack recs. Let’s go.
Bars, bars, and more bars
The RXBAR variety set that packs the punch and protein...
Tell us you miss your IRL office without telling us you miss your IRL office. (Skimm HQ was stocked with so many of these tasty and filling bars back in the days of precedented times.) They hit all the sweet spots our nutritionists told us they love: high in protein (12 grams per bar), no added sugar, and a solid fiber count. Plus they’re gluten-free and made of real ingredients like dates, nuts, and egg whites. No regrets here. ($24.46/pack of 12, Amazon)
Protein bars that don’t taste chalky…
These ones have 20 grams of protein and should leave you feeling full for hours. This pack comes with a variety of flavors including birthday cake, almond bliss, maple glazed doughnut, and peanut butter pie. And each one has only 1 gram of sugar. Yup, we’re adding to cart. ($25.49/pack of 8, Amazon)
Dark chocolate nut bars for the peanut lovers…
These Kind bars are made with 12 grams of plant protein and are free of genetically engineered ingredients. They’re made by combining peanuts, almonds, chocolate and cocoa powder (among other ingredients). And they basically double as dessert without compromising on nutrition. It’s a yes from us. ($17.47/pack of 12, Walmart)
Stuff you can eat out of a bag
A crunchy way to enjoy your fave fruits…
Like apples, pineapples, and bananas. Though these baked chips don’t pack the protein, they’ve got an average of 3 grams of fiber in each bag. So pair ’em with some nuts or lean protein for a more filling snack. They’re gluten-free, have no added oils or preservatives, and with the exception of the toasted coconut flavor, contain no added sugars. ($14.44+/pack of 16, Amazon)
A variety pack of no-shell pistachio nuts…
So you won’t have to worry about where to discard those shells when you’re on the go. These have either 4 or 5 grams of protein per bag, plus some fiber to boot. We love the chili roasted flavor with a bit of a spicy kick, and the honey roasted flavor that will fulfill your craving for both something savory and sweet with less than a gram of added sugar. BTW, these are gluten-free, non-GMO, and are a great source of vitamin B6 — healthy immune and nervous system, we’re lookin’ at you. ($10.83/pack of nine, Amazon)
Plant-based fava bean munchies that’ll satisfy a potato chip craving…
These 100-calorie packs are great for throwing on salads for some extra crunch — or just eating straight out of the bag while you’re on the go. They’ve got 7 grams of protein, 5 grams of fiber, and 1 gram of sugar per serving. Consider your ‘I want something crunchy’ craving fulfilled. ($21.78/pack of 24, Amazon)
Chickpea puffs that are vegan-friendly…
We huffed, and we puffed, and we ate...every last bite of these yummy snacks. The light, airy puffs mimic the texture of Cheez Doodles and have 6 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber per serving. They’re also a great option for those with allergies or food sensitivities: They’re kosher, vegan, and free of soy, peanuts, tree nuts, and gluten. ($21.60+/pack of 18, Amazon)
A variety pack of beef jerky…
Savory hive, rise up. These salty snacks are made of 100% grass-fed beef and come in multiple crowd-pleasing flavors. They’re naturally sweetened with coconut sugar and have no added hormones, nitrates, nitrites, preservatives or antibiotics. Plus they’ve got 12 grams of protein per serving. ($26.99/pack of four, Amazon)
Flavored roasted chickpea packs that you’ll be thinking about all day long…
They’re that good. They’re grain-, gluten-, dairy-, and nut- free. And they’ve got 5–6 grams of both plant-based protein and fiber per serving. Throw them in your bag or give ‘em to your kiddos for their afternoon pick-me-up. This pack comes with honey roasted, sea salt, rockin’ ranch, sour cream and onion, and other yummy flavors you won’t be able to get enough of. Munch, munch. ($17.96+/pack of six, Amazon)
Snacks that’ll satisfy your sweet tooth
An organic alternative to traditional candy bars…
It’s time for your childhood faves to hit the bench. Nelly’s Organics bars will satisfy your sweet tooth minus any high-fructose corn syrup — instead, they’re sweetened with organic cane sugar and made from sustainable ingredients. Choose from organic coconut covered in dark chocolate, caramel nougat with peanuts and nuts, a peanut butter coconut option, and more. Psst…keep these refrigerated if you’re not planning to eat ‘em within the week since they’re made from raw organic ingredients with no preservatives. ($3.49, Instacart)
Organic Medjool dates that’ll taste like dessert…
Swipe right on this soft and chewy fruit. Each pack comes with three pit-free, nutrient-dense dates. While they’re not high in protein, they have no added sugar and are a great source of fiber (in addition to providing many other health benefits). Plus the packaging is made from eco-friendly recycled paperboard so you don’t have to feel bad about bringing them on your errands, or stuffing them in your kiddos’ backpacks before soccer practice. We see a second date in your future. ($14.99/pack of eight, Amazon)
Chocolate-covered almonds because nuts are a tried-and-true classic…
Crunchy? Check. Chocolate? Check. Five grams of protein and 2 grams of fiber per serving size? Check, check, and checkkkk. We love these because they don’t contain artificial flavors, sweeteners, or sugar alternatives. And to sweeten the deal even more: the co. was founded by a mother-daughter duo. Awww. ($24.07/pack of five, Amazon)
Things to keep in the fridge
Dark chocolate sea salt peanut butter cups that taste just like Reese’s…
But with 7 grams of whole food protein (rather than whey or soy). They’ll completely satisfy any sweet craving you might have and are a great filling option to turn to instead of old-fashioned peanut butter cups. Keep ’em in the fridge for the best texture and taste — but they’ll also stay good for up to two days out in the wild. 10/10 recommend. ($2.99/pack of two, Target)
Individually wrapped cookies with 10 grams of whey protein a pop…
The chocolate chip and oatmeal flavors are just 190 calories each and have 6 grams of fiber while the sugar flavor has 210 calories and 5 grams of fiber. These Naked Cookies are also gluten-free, soy-free, and GMO-free and make for a convenient pre-workout snack. ($35.99/pack of 12, Amazon)
Peanut butter protein cookie dough you can eat out of the jar…
Or bake into cookies — the choice is yours. Deux is a female-founded company and uses ingredients you can actually pronounce in its products.Like peanut butter, organic maple syrup, water, and organic coconut sugar. Plus the dough is vegan, so no raw eggs to worry about here. This one’s made with pea protein and has 2 grams of fiber and 4 grams of protein per serving size too, so you’re still getting all the good stuff in. Deux it, deux it, deux it. Pssst: Use the code SKIMM to get 20% off your order. ($15, Deux)
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