I have a confession to make: I’m really bad at breakfast.
I’ve been doing better lately, but I’ve never been one of those people who has a regular breakfast routine. So if I’m running late or not really sure want I want to eat, I’ll usually just default to nothing.
That means that by the time lunchtime rolls around, I’m really hungry. The good news is that HubSpot’s Cambridge offices, where I work, are located across the street from a mall, which means I don’t have to go very far for a meal. The bad news is that mall food isn’t the healthiest -- and besides, who wants a salad when you can get Chipotle? So inevitably, I fall victim to a food coma.
Does this sound familiar? Well, I’ve got good news for you -- all hope isn’t lost. The six healthy foods below will provide you with a boost of afternoon energy to pull you out of your food coma. Stock a few at your desk or in your office fridge, and say hello to healthier alternatives to caffeine and sugar.
1) Sweet potatoes
Sweet potatoes are packed with carbohydrates, vitamin A, and vitamin C. The average sweet potato contains 24 grams of carbs, which your body needs for energy. Sweet potatoes also have plenty of fiber, which regulate the release of said energy so you don’t experience a high followed by an energy crash.
Roast or oven-bake these the night before and bring them to work for a quick and delicious pick-me-up.
Apples have a low glycemic index and load, which means their glucose is absorbed slowly by your body and won’t raise your overall blood sugar too high. They’re low-calorie (about 80 calories an apple), and for all the ladies -- researchers have found that women who eat one apple a day are 28% less likely to develop Type 2 Diabetes than those who don’t.
Pretty much all nuts are a healthier alternative to chips or candy, but walnuts pack a particularly valuable punch. They’re high in protein, which keeps you feeling satiated, and contain omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin E, and vitamin B6. The fatty acids found in walnuts keep your nervous system healthy and help keep your serotonin -- a neurotransmitter that controls your mood and appetite -- at a steady level.
4) Dark chocolate
If you thought chocolate couldn’t be healthy, think again. Dark chocolate contains small amounts of theobromine and caffeine, which provide an energy boost that won’t lead to a crash because of their low levels. Dark chocolate also contains less sugar than regular chocolate and increases the production of endorphins while enhancing your concentration and focus.
Yogurt contains lactose, a milk sugar that provides energy, and also contains a substantial amount of protein, which slows the absorption of sugar so you don’t experience an energy spike. Just make sure you’re eating unflavored or Greek yogurt, as many flavored varieties of yogurt have high levels of added sugar, which won’t provide you sustained energy.
So there you have it -- six foods that are healthy and will keep you going when you feel like you’re falling asleep at your desk. What snacks do you eat for an energy boost in the afternoon? Let us know in the comments below.
Originally published Jun 13, 2016 12:00:00 PM, updated June 15 2021