Sometimes it really does take a healthy snack to get us through those last few hours at work. You know the drill. You’ve used the last of your energy pushing through that post-lunch drowsiness. Coffee has spilled on your shirt a few times by now.
Suddenly, it’s mid-afternoon and you’re hungry again. Like chewing-the-inside-of-your-cheek, thinking-about-getting-another-poke-bowl hungry. Dinner seems so far away, it might as well be next week.
Getting hit with the 3 p.m. munchies can undo your whole day, especially if a coworker made cupcakes again. The good news? There are plenty of snacks that can keep you satisfied without spoiling dinner.
“The key is to reach for options with protein and fiber, two nutrients that give you the most bang for buck when it comes to filling you up,” suggests Barb Patterson, R.D.
Patterson suggests choosing snacks that provide between 100 and 150 calories for women and 150 and 200 for men. The snacks should have at least 15 grams of protein, but some options on this list fill you up without being such a protein hit.
To make it easy for you, here are nine satisfying and easy-to-stash-in-a-drawer options that check the healthy-eating boxes above.
While you’re on the clock, so is your belly.
1. Peanut butter and banana
If your parent(s) packed this kind of snack for you when you were a kid, they were always right — as you well know.
According to a research review, peanut butter is high in protein and healthy fats, while bananas are naturally sweet and high in potassium and fiber. Research also shows that eating bananas may help reduce the risk of cancer, heart problems, and diabetes.
Make yourself an extra-filling grown-up version by stirring about half a scoop of your favorite protein powder into the peanut butter. It should give you around 13 to 20 grams of protein.
You’ve probably heard jerky praised for being a healthy source of protein, but most types are filled with sugar and nitrates.
Biltong is the cured meat snack you’ve been missing: It’s coated in spices, salt, pepper, and a touch of vinegar before being left to dry in the open air. The result is a minimally processed, low sugar, high protein snack that’s free of nasty preservatives.
Trust us, you’re going to want to switch to biltong.
3. DIY trail mix
Snacks that offer a little variety will keep your taste buds occupied while your body gets the energy it needs.
Instead of buying premade trail mix, throw together a homemade assortment of your favorite nuts and dried fruits to avoid a ton of added salt and sugar.
When it comes to protein and fiber, some of the best nuts and seeds include:
- Almonds: These nuts are loaded with antioxidants, protecting your cells from oxidative damage.
- Pumpkin seeds: They pack high amounts of zinc and magnesium, giving you even more of an energy boost.
- Cashews: They dish up a good amount of copper, for strong bones.
Fruit wise, try:
- Figs: They’ve got vitamin B6, which may help with brain health and more.
- Apricots: They’re high in water to help regulate blood pressure and your body temp. They also have vitamins A and E, promoting eye health.
- Prunes: They’re high in potassium, which may help with heart rhythm, nerve impulses, muscle contractions, and more.
Alternatively, try one of these trail mix combos.
4. Better-for-you crackers and dip
Similar to trail mix, making your own crackers is a simple way to make sure you get more nutritional value per bite.
These keto-friendly rosemary and sea salt flax crackers, for example, are a mixture of flax seeds, eggs, Parmesan, and fresh rosemary. One serving has roughly 11 grams of protein, so dip them in hummus, peanut butter, or cottage cheese for even more of a boost.
5. Roasted chickpeas
An alternative to hummus, roasted chickpeas are a versatile snack you can dress up however you like. They’re also high in fiber, protein, potassium, and vitamin C.
Make them sweet with a dusting of antioxidant-rich cinnamon, brown sugar, or cocoa powder, or go the spicy-salty route with salt and cayenne pepper.
You might want to clear this one with your coworkers first (because they’re stinky), but sardines are one of the all-time best snacks. Full of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, they come in easily transportable, single-serving cans, making them ideal for stashing.
These tiny fish (don’t find them too cute, you’re about to eat them) also provide high amounts of calcium, vitamin B-12, and vitamin D. According to the University of Washington’s School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences, sardines are a low impact food, ecologically and environmentally speaking.
Pair them with one of the crackers above and a bit of Dijon mustard or eat ’em straight out of the can if you don’t mind the taste and texture. Don’t be surprised if you start an office-wide trend (once they’ve fumigated from your last snack).
7. Dark chocolate
We know you were secretly hoping that chocolate would come up.
Well, the good news is that it’s a delicious, subtle, sweet way to keep hunger at bay. While it’s not as packed with protein or fiber as other options on this list, it will certainly satisfy your sweet tooth for the remainder of your shift.
A few squares (or five dark chocolate kisses) won’t get you particularly far above the 150-calorie mark either.
Plus, research suggests that the antioxidant flavonoid compounds in dark chocolate, which has 70 to 85 percent cacao, might help reduce stress levels by working against that naughty stress hormone, cortisol.
8. Half an avocado on whole-wheat crackers
Avocado is a dense source of healthy fats, and this notoriously filling, mashable fruit can be something of a hunger savior when it comes to those afternoons that never seem to end.
Eating a whole one provides 240 calories, which is a little high for a mid-afternoon snack. But half? Bingo. That will more than fill you up, giving you just the right balance of energy and fats to keep you going.
Add some whole-wheat crackers as a base for a low calorie fiber boost, and watch your afternoon become roughly 53 percent more bearable.
You can also boost your flaxseed cracker creations up a few points up with avocado if you’re feeling fancy. And if you really feel like waking up, sprinkle some chili flakes on the whole affair.
9. Hard-boiled egg
Eggs are the renowned protein monarch, and you can hard-boil them so they don’t crack all over your work bag/face.
Eating two of these as a snack provides just over 150 calories while providing 12.58 grams of protein.
Egg-sactly what the doctor ordered. If you’re a little worried about getting the timing right on the boil, don’t worry -– we’ve got you covered.
There’s nothing wrong with a snack or two throughout the day. They can keep you full, happy, motivated, and focused.
We’ve got plenty more information on the best, most nourishing snacks out there, including fruit-based options and great snack choices around fall time.