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Whether you’ve skimped on your lunch break or skipped it entirely, there’s a good chance that your body will realize what you’ve done come late afternoon. The all-too-familiar fatigue, sleepiness and stomach grumbles that hit after lunch make it tempting to head to the vending machine or office candy bowl, but, not surprisingly, these snacks won’t perk you up for long.
In fact, it turns out that protein, not sugar, will give you the long-lasting boost that you need to make it to the end of the day. The following seven snacks bring together energy-rich protein with flavors that taste great — and cost you much fewer calories than sweets. Try one and turn your slump into a successful afternoon.
1. Fruit and Peanut Butter
A small apple or one-half of a banana with one tablespoon of peanut butter brings together the sweetness you crave with the energy you need. The natural sugars in fruit take longer to break down than the ones you’d find in a candy bar, so your metabolism will work harder to do so. Meanwhile, the peanut butter gives you the energy-enhancing protein you need, and the combination tastes great to boot.
2. Roasted Chickpeas
If you have more time to prepare in advance, a batch of roasted chickpeas might do the trick. By coating a cup of these tasty beans in spices like cumin and allspice, you’ll have a snack that’s flavorful, filling and satisfyingly crunchy.
3. Hummus and Whole-Wheat Crackers
Another chickpea-centric snack that tastes great: hummus. It also includes fiber to help you feel fuller. A handful of wheat crackers have the complex carbohydrates necessary to give you an energy boost that lasts much longer than one you’d get from candy or simple carbohydrates, like chips.
4. Hard-Boiled Eggs
It’s no surprise that eggs are packed with protein and nutrients — they’re incredible and edible, after all. Hard-boiled eggs are an easy snack to prepare ahead of time, and you can make enough at once to get you through the week. If you can’t eat one plain, mix some guacamole in with the yolk, or make a low-fat deviled egg with a tiny bit of low-fat mayonnaise.
5. Trail Mix
If hikers grab it for energy, it can certainly get you through an afternoon behind a desk. Trail mix is packed with nuts that provide the long-lasting energy that you need plus a little kick from dried fruit. Just make sure to pick a variety free of unhealthy extras, like sweetened pieces of fruit or candies.
6. Greek Yogurt
It’s cool, creamy and sweet, but it’s not ice cream in the slightest. Greek yogurt comes packed with more than enough protein to power you through your last hours of work. Enhance a bowl of plain, low-fat Greek yogurt with a splash of honey, fresh fruit or nuts to make it even tastier.
7. Lunchmeat Roll-ups
Turning your favorite lunchmeat into a snack is a great way to boost your energy. Whether you prefer turkey or ham, take a slice and wrap it around a thin breadstick, but not before enhancing its flavor with a low-cal spread of your choice.
Avoid the usual afternoon slump by picking a low-cal alternative to the common vending machine junk food. These snacks will keep you full longer and help you get through those last few hours without having to hear your stomach complaining.
Image: Tracy Benjamin