4 Eating Tips That Will Get You Out Of An Afternoon Slump Better Than Coffee

by Talia Koren

I don't know about you, but there are some days where it's 2 pm, I'm sitting at my desk and I feel like I've just hit a wall. It hits you out of nowhere.

You know what I'm talking about.

Before I got into health, the first thing I would do if I felt like taking a quick nap on my desk is chug a bucket of coffee or maybe nibble on cookies.

But, those options are just quick fixes that left me in a worse energy slump than before. Reaching for cookies, granola bars and chips won't kick your afternoon lull in the ass.

There are specific foods, however, you can eat to boost your energy without making it worse.

We talked to nutrition expert Kim McDevitt, MPH RD for recommendations of what to snack on when you hit that post-lunch slump:

1. Reach for whole foods paired with protein.

When it comes to snacking, McDevitt suggested whole foods like an apple or banana combined with a source of protein like peanut butter.

She told us,

You want to choose something that will give you quick energy, but not throw you into a boost that leads to a crash, like sugary foods.

Fruit is the best choice because it helps curb your cravings for processed sugary snacks, like cookies.

She explains,

The hunger will be at bay right away. If you pair [fruit] with protein, you'll digest it more slowly. That's better for your blood sugar, and you'll stay fuller for longer.

McDevitt suggested keeping single-serve nut butter packs on your desk or in your bag for getting quick protein at work. Apples and bananas are easy to stick in your bag, too.

Other great sources of protein are coconut, raw almonds and raw walnuts.

2. If you reach for a granola or protein bar, read the label.

We also asked McDevitt about snack bars and protein bars.

Whole foods with less ingredients will always be better for you. But some bars make great snacks because they're so convenient and high in protein. You just have to be wary of ingredients, calories and sugar.

McDevitt told us the most important thing is to read the nutrition facts and ingredient list before chomping down on a granola or protein bar.

She broke down the actual amounts of sugar, protein and calories to watch out for:

You're really looking to avoid anything with a lot of sugar. Try to stay under 12 grams. Anything over 15 grams of sugar might as well be a candy bar. Look for at least 5 grams of protein. The snack also shouldn't be more than 200 calories, which is a good rule of thumb if you're trying to be calorie conscious.

Calorie-conscious or not, 200 calories sounds like an appropriate snack size. Of course, the size of your snack also depends on when you last ate.

3. Listen to your body and eat often.

If you want to beat the afternoon slump to the punch, the best thing to do is keep hydrated and eat often. McDevitt suggested not going longer than three hours between meals.

It can be so easy to get into working that you don't have time to eat. But you should give yourself quick, easy options like a bar or fruit. Waiting a long time to eat between meals will result in unhealthier choices. Instead of meals, I like to think of the times that you eat as 'eating opportunities.' It has nothing to do with 'lunch.' Your next meal should depend on when you last ate.

It's good to keep that in mind if you always miss lunch and don't get a chance to eat until 3 pm. Make it easier for yourself with quick food options.

4. Get creative with protein sources.

I've literally never thought of this before, but McDevitt actually recommended throwing in some protein with your coffee.

McDevitt told us,

I'm not against coffee in the middle of the day, but you can grab a 100-calorie pack of high-quality protein [and] add to it to your iced coffee. You get the sweetness and fuel, and it's a good alternative to sugary coffee drinks.

I actually had no clue little packs of protein even existed, but she recommended Vega protein because it has no sugar and contains around 100 calories and 20 grams of the good stuff.

So now you know that if you want to stay energized at work, reach for fruit and protein instead of cookies. But if you have to eat something processed, make sure to read the label.

The smarter you snack, the sharper you'll be at work.

You can follow Kim at @foodierunnergrl.