It’s that time again…3:00 o’clock and your energy is starting to drag. Your first thought is to reach for that candy bar, or maybe drink a soda, but you’re trying to eat healthier and you dread the crash that always follows. Great news! There are things that you can eat that will give you a boost of energy, be lower in calories and NOT leave you feeling even worse an hour later! Snacking is one of the best things you can do for yourself if you do it the smart way. Snacking can rev up your metabolism, boost your energy and keep you from overeating at meals. What a lot of people want to know is just what snacks are healthy and will give you an energy boost in the afternoon! Munching between meals can actually reduce your overall caloric intake by curbing overeating at your next meal. But there is a healthy and not so healthy way of snacking, but if you take some of these suggestions you can let go of that guilt.
- Sweet Hungry? If you’re sweet hungry, go for fruit. You can eat any fruit you want, but be aware of the sugar content of the fruit. Portable fruit like apples, oranges, grapes, banana’s, etc…don’t have to be refrigerated and are easy to carry around and have on hand for snacking. Berries on the other hand need to be refrigerated, but they are on the low sugar end of the fruit spectrum. Fruit offers you fiber which will help you feel satiated and the natural sugar will help stave off the desire for chocolate or a candy bar, all the while providing you with natural energy and no crash. You can add the fruit to low-fat or fat-free yogurt, and you will be adding a little protein to your snack.
- Nibbler? Another great snack that is easy to carry around is nuts or seeds. These are packed with good fats that will help you feel fuller, and they also have good nutrient values that help your body use them for energy. They’re easy to go overboard on though, so if you bring nuts or seeds as a snack, it might help to take the time to measure them and put them into small snack-sized bags – usually about 1 ounce will do.
- Crunchy Munchies? If you want something to satisfy your “crunchy munchies” there are several options. Try vegetables. Red peppers are loaded with antioxidants and vitamins A & C. They’re great dipped into hummus (which is full of good fats and protein which will fill you up faster, add nutritional value and give ‘staying power’ to your snacking. Carrots, celery, snow peas and even zucchini are also great with hummus! Just be careful not to eat too much hummus…I recommend about ¼ cup at a time.
- Salty Snacker? And last but not least…advise for the “salty snackers”! Soy crisps, nut/seed crackers, or even air popped or no-fat popcorn! Soy has protein, nuts and seeds have good fats and little protein and popcorn is a great snack because it’s actually a grain and healthier for you than chips. Buy a single-serve bag of popcorn, add a little sea salt for the saltiness you’re craving, and have at it! The fiber in the popcorn will help you feel full and the salty crunch will satisfy your salt craving.
- Other Options? One final thing to mention…energy drinks. They are getting more and more popular in today’s busy world with everyone’s crazy schedules. BUT…most energy drinks on the market have added sugars, corn syrup or artificial sweeteners in them. If you look hard enough you can find a few energy drinks on the market that are all natural, organic, and use nature and vitamins to help give you a boost. Read the labels, be good to yourself, and know what you’re eating and drinking. If in doubt, pass it by or try it and see how it makes you feel. It’s time to take control of the 3 o’clock hour and pass it by with flying colors!
About The Author: Nationally renowned nutrition and fitness expert Kimberly Olson, CNC, CPT is the creator of FitKim, a nutrition and fitness blog that teaches people how easy it is to be healthy. She has completed her Master’s Degree in Holistic Nutrition, become a Certified Nutritional Consultant & ACE Personal Trainer, and travels nationally conducting public speaking events. She has been consulting clients for over ten years, and has developed a passion for combining nutrition and fitness.
Kimberly is the author of The FitKim Lifestyle: Food & Fitness to Get YOU Fit!, a complete guide to teach readers everything they need to know to live healthier, become more active and learn how to finally lose those stubborn pounds. She has been featured on Fox San Antonio, CBS Minnesota, ABC West Michigan, Yahoo!, YouTube, Houston Woman Magazine, O’Fallon Nutrition Radio and has reached Expert Author status on Ezine Articles and Fizzniche.com.
She is currently working on two PhDs in Natural Health and Holistic Nutrition, as well as her next book, Cooking with FitKim.