Oh, the dreaded 3 p.m. energy dip. We're pretty sure it's the reason the vending machine was invented, and the sole purpose for that secret stash of year-old Halloween candy in the back of our desk drawer. It’s a universal struggle that even health experts can’t escape. But they do their best to fight it off by having healthy snacks on hand. We surveyed 19 dietitians (who also happen to be some of our favorite food bloggers) to get their personal, go-to convenience snacks for conquering the notorious slump. And no, none of them even mentioned homemade organic kale chips.
“I keep a stash of Wonderful Pistachio’s 100 Calorie packs in my desk drawer because they satisfy my relentless chip craving while delivering a hunger-crushing combination of protein, fiber, and good fats. The sweet chili flavor is absolutely addictive, but I like to switch it up to keep every afternoon interesting.”—Me! Abbey at Abbey's Kitchen
“By mid-afternoon, I reach for a piece of fruit, like a banana or apple, and Organic Valley Stringles string cheese. The fruit offers an energy-boosting dose of carbohydrates, while the fiber from the fruit and protein from the cheese help tame my hunger until dinner.”—Michelle Loy, MPH, MS, RDN, blogger at Go Wellness Co.
“Kind bar ingredients are as transparent as the wrapping—there aren't many bars you could just look at and be able to tell what’s inside. They’re also low in sugar, and they provide that satisfying balance of protein, fat, and carbs that we seem to really need to pick us up during that slump between lunch and dinner.”—Bonnie Taub-Dix, RDN, creator of BetterThanDieting.com
“I suggest planning something you look forward to that isn't a sugary treat that would inevitably make you crash in an hour. My favorite routine is to get up from my desk and grab a sparkling water. Stepping away from work for a few minutes and sipping on something fun gives [my] brain a little break so [I] can re-focus for the rest of the afternoon. If you make this a daily routine, you begin to do it automatically and then it doesn't take extra effort or willpower to bypass the candy jar!”—Kacie Barnes, MCN, RDN, blogger at Mama Knows Nutrition
“When the 3 p.m. afternoon slump hits, I crave something sweet, but I know that dessert will just make my blood sugar crash and burn, leaving me even more tired. Fresh mango is naturally sweet and provides 3 grams of fiber per serving. Plus, emerging research on mangoes shows potential health benefits associated with improved blood glucose control. Pairing it with plain Greek yogurt provides a satisfyingly rich, creamy texture and satiating protein to tide me over until dinnertime.”—Kara Lydon, RDN, blogger at The Foodie Dietitian
“I love snacking on Muuna Blueberry Cottage Cheese with real pieces of fruit on the bottom. Each single-serve container packs in 15 grams of protein, making it an excellent source of protein to help power you through the afternoon. And each container has just 9 grams of sugar. Sometimes I’ll top it with whole-grain cereal and sliced berries for extra fueling fiber.”—Amy Gorin, MS, RDN, owner of Amy Gorin Nutrition
“Zing Bars are for those in need of a healthy and tasty snack. With a nut butter base, the bars are high protein, high fiber, low glycemic, and free of wheat, gluten, soy, and additives of any kind, providing the vitality needed to get through your busy day.”—Krista Ulatowski, MPH, RDN, professional relations, Zing
“These are my go-to bars for the 3 p.m. slump because they’re completely plant-based and provide the perfect amount of carbs, protein, and fats to give me an energy boost. I'll either have the large bar or eat one of their "mini" bars along with a big apple or peach."—Angie Asche, MS, RD, LMNT, owner of Eleat Sports Nutrition, LLC
“My snack pick is an energy bar with a mix of protein, carbs, and fat. I love RXbars because they contain at least 12 grams of protein and have good-for-you fat from nuts. They’re also easy to pack in my purse and keep me totally full until dinner.”—Gabriella Vetere, RDN, blogger at Macro Balanced
“Lately I’ve been spreading cottage cheese on toasted Dave's Killer Bread Thin Sliced Good Seed bread with sliced bananas on top. Not only is this combo protein packed (more than 15 grams), but it's also got satiating fiber too. At just under 200 calories, this holds me over until dinnertime while satisfying my sweet tooth.—Elizabeth Shaw, MS, RDN, CLT, blogger at Shaws Simple Swaps
“My favorite snack for the afternoon slump has to be easy, portable, and full of protein and fiber. I'm loving individual packs of Seapoint Farms Dry Roasted Edamame that I can grab and go for busy days. Plus, I love that they're lower in sugar to avoid a sugar high and then a quick crash."—Chelsey Amer, MS, RDN, CDN, creator of CitNutritionally.com
“My favorite afternoon snack is Siggi's yogurt with some fruit and a drizzle of nut butter. This combination is sweet and savory, and has satiating protein, fiber, healthy fat, and no added sugar, so I'm energized without a crash later on!”—Kaleigh McMordie, MCN, RDN, LD, blogger at Lively Table
“I love smashing half of a small avocado with a squeeze of lime and a dash of red pepper flakes, and piling it onto a whole grain Ryvita crispbread. Avocado is a great source of healthy monounsaturated fats and fiber, which helps keep me satisfied until dinner."—Kate Chury, RD, blogger at Thinky Bites
"I usually crave something sweet if I hit a 3 p.m. energy slump. I never want to deny what I'm craving, but I always make sure there is also nutritional value and balance to power me through the rest of the afternoon. My go-to snack has been apple slices with Justin’s Almond Butter To-Go Pack and a sprinkle of mini chocolate chips. It's a much more satisfying and nutritious snack than a mini candy bar from the candy jar in the office."—Julie Harrington, RD, blogger at RDelicious Kitchen
“Come 3 p.m., I'm in need of a quick snack to wake me up. I am a huge fan of Newman's natural popcorn with sea salt because it's got the crunch of a potato chip but is far lower in calories, fat, and sodium. Need a little sweetness? Add some dark chocolate chips (especially when the popcorn is warm and it melts slightly)."—Jenny S. Manseau, RDN, CC, owner of The Creative RD($2.49; amazon.com)