It’s 2pm. You’re at the office, or working from home, when the midday fatigue rolls in. Then your stomach grumbles. You might even feel a little chilly? The “midday slump”, as it’s known, is a real issue a lot of us face. Most of the time, getting up and moving around or changing tasks isn’t enough. Another solution could be a warranted, midday snack.
If it’s been a few hours since you last ate, having a snack that’s high in both protein and healthy fats can help give you that energy boost you need to stay productive while simultaneously helping you avoid those less desirable highly-processed and sugar-filled options. Snacks high in protein and fat have the added health benefits of increasing satiety and controlling your blood sugar. Plus, let’s face it – protein and fat snacks tend to be pretty delicious.
The way your body digests food is typically responsible for how and when hunger strikes.
Lets start with sugar. If you’re not familiar with how sugar is digested, it’s good to know that even moderate consumption can cause an immediate and potent spike in blood sugar that quickly leaves you hungry and wanting more.
Proteins are digested much more slowly than carbohydrates (A.K.A. sugars). In fact, your body breaks them down quite steadily in order to absorb all of the nutrients properly (even more of a reason to consume healthy sources). This is one of the reasons you’re much less likely to binge on a piece of grilled chicken versus greasy potato chips while sitting on your couch in front of the TV.1
The same is true when it comes to fat. Fats slow digestion and instigate a release of appetite regulating hormones.2
Insulin plays an important role in appetite regulation. Keeping insulin under control increases the sensation of fullness and helps suppress appetite. Improving your insulin sensitivity by eating a lower-carbohydrate, higher-fat diet3
can help you decrease your likelihood of acting on those nagging food cravings for sugary treats.4
Here are a few delicious protein- and fat-packed snack ideas to satisfy your appetite.5
This snack wins in portability and shelf life. Mixed nuts are a great way to get the savory, salty crunch you’re looking for while curbing your hunger until your next meal comes around. Get yourself a quarter-cup-sized Tupperware, fill it with your favorite mixed nuts, and keep it on hand for when you hit your midday slump. It’s best to eat this snack at a slow pace, if possible, to let your satiety hormones kick in. Also, try getting them roasted & unsalted (and salt them yourself if need be) to avoid the high sodium levels. You could also make your own mix by packing one tablespoon each of almonds, pistachios, sunflower seeds, and walnuts. This recipe gives you an easy, flavorful 7g of protein to hold you over until dinner.
Simply roll up a slice or two of low-sodium, organic deli meat (like turkey) with a slice of cheese (like Swiss) and vegetables of choice (like tomato and lettuce). Think of this as a sandwich without the bread. This is a gluten-free and Paleo-appropriate snack that’s loaded with protein. If you’re worried about the cheese, don’t be. Cheese can be your friend, especially when consumed in reasonable quantities and used to prevent other sugary binges. If you’re allergic to cheese, you can substitute ¼ of an avocado. This easy hunger fix has 12g of protein and can be made in no time.
A fun activity as well as a snack! Edamame is great to pop-out and munch on either cold or steamed. The edamame pods will also slow you down, so you have to take your time with this afternoon hunger-tamer. With just a little sea salt and drizzle of olive oil, you can chow down on a whole cup of these fresh and delicious pods while getting a whopping 15g of protein.
My personal favorite snack is anything involving avocado. Avocadoes are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, have a variety of vitamins and minerals, and are smooth like butter! Half of an avocado is more than enough for a thick, savory spread on top of a slice of whole grain toast or a brown rice cake. This alone gives you approximately 3g of protein and 15g of those heart-healthy Omega-3s. Top that off with a tablespoon of ground flaxseed sprinkled evenly, add a little sea salt to taste, and you have yourself a gourmet snack with tons of fiber, healthy fats and protein all in one.
Who isn’t a fan of dessert for an afternoon snack? Greek yogurt can be used for parfaits, shakes, and all sorts of satisfying quick-fix snacks. Plain Greek yogurt is even satisfying on its own, or with a drizzle of honey. Both full-fat and 0% Greek yogurt provide 18-20g of protein per 7oz cup, which is the typical serving size for familiar Greek yogurt brands like Chobani and Fage. For those with a sweet tooth, this option will definitely satisfy both taste and hunger.
Need an even easier option? Keep a container of your favorite protein powder and a shaker cup at your desk. When that predictable afternoon hunger and fatigue hit, add a scoop or two of protein powder to water, shake, and enjoy.
It’s easy to pick up a grab-and-go snack from the bodega across the street, raid your pantry, or seize one of the free snacks from the corporate kitchen, but these might not be the best options if you’re focused on getting lean and strong. Keep those sugary snacks “out of sight, out of mind” by having one of these 5 craving-curbing snacks handy. You’ll be amazed to see how your former “lack of control” becomes a non-issue. Just follow the Boy Scout motto and always be prepared. Your body and your brain will thank you.
What are your favorite afternoon snacks?