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 of apples and peanut butter, veggies and hummus, and cheese and crackers with snacks that are a little more portable.
We’ve got recs that’ll give you that brain and body boost you need to make it through until dinner. Plus it’s all stuff you can buy online, throw in your bag, give to your kiddos, and keep stocked in your pantry. So you can put some pep back in your step.
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 (almonds fit the bill). “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.
And now some of our snack recs. Let’s go.
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. ($35.95/pack of 12, Amazon)
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. ($21.99/pack of 8, Amazon)
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)
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. ($23.99/pack of 24, Amazon)
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. ($19.99/pack of 12, Amazon)
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)
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 to hold 'em over until dinner. 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. ($26.94/pack of six, Amazon)
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)
Crunchy? Check. Chocolate? Check. Five grams of protein and 2 grams of fiber per serving size? Check, check, and checkkkk. PS: they also don’t contain any artificial flavors. And to sweeten the deal even more: the co. was founded by a mother-daughter duo. Awww. ($24.99/pack of five, Amazon)
It’s time hard-boiled eggs got the disruption, cool branding, and love they deserve. Each set comes with two perfectly boiled non-GMO, free-range eggs and one amazing dip. They pack the protein (14 grams, baby) and come peeled and ready to eat. Just grab ‘em, dip ‘em, and be on your merry way. Egg-cellent. (Prices vary, Whole Foods via Amazon)
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)
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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