Sure, the lollipop tucked in your desk drawer or the free cookies in the break room will give you a quick jolt when you start to drag mid-afternoon, but the boost won’t last long.
Foods high in refined carbs like sugar and white flour cause your blood sugar to quickly spike, delivering the energy bump you so desperately need. But the sudden surge is soon followed by a crash, and an hour later you’re dragging again.
For power that lasts, you’ll need something with some more oomph. Next time you’re nearing a slump, swap your usual sugary snack for one of these energizing foods or drinks instead.
Like chips and pretzels, the carbohydrates in popcorn will perk you up ASAP. But unlike those other salty snacks, popcorn is a whole grain that’s loaded with fiber. So you stay satisfied—and energized—for hours. Pick lightly salted, air-popped popcorn over microwave popcorn, which often contains unhealthy fats and sky-high levels of sodium.
Apples are packed with natural sugars to give you a boost now—and nearly 5g fiber to keep it going for hours. Just remember to leave that skin on, since that’s where most of the fiber is. For an extra boost, try dunking apple slices in protein-rich almond butter or cottage cheese.
Talk about a treat with benefits: Dark chocolate delivers a hit of energizing caffeine along with theobromine, another compound that helps you feel more energized and awake. And unlike milk chocolate, the dark stuff (think 70% or higher) is relatively low in added sugar.
Chickpeas’ combo of high-fiber carbohydrates and protein packs an energizing punch that’ll up your alertness now—and keep it high for the long-term. Try snacking on crunchy roasted chickpeas, or pureeing chickpeas into hummus and enjoying as a dip with raw veggies.
Almonds are rich in protein and fiber, along with magnesium—a mineral that plays an important role in staving off fatigue. Plus, all that crunching actually stimulates the secretion of mood-boosting hormones.
A sweet potato
The rich, custard-like texture and sweet flavor of a baked sweet potato satisfies a craving for a sugary treat. But unlike a brownie or a donut, the complex carbohydrates and magnesium will help you power through the afternoon. To make it extra special, top it with a dollop of yogurt and some shredded coconut flakes.
The crimson-colored vegetable is naturally rich in nitrates, compounds that boost blood flow and oxygen to the brain and help you feel more alert. Add sliced, roasted beets to your salad or sandwich at lunch, or try sipping earthy beet juice for an afternoon snack.
Like coffee, green tea delivers an energizing boost. But it also serves up l-theanine, an amino acid that promotes a calm state of alertness. As a result, you feel more awake—without getting too jittery or buzzed.