It’s 3:00pm and you’re tempted to reach for that office candy stash or hit up the vending machine before that afternoon meeting. It’s only natural to feel a slight drag in energy in the midafternoon.
But stay away from the empty afternoon calories and reach for these healthy snacks instead. These five items won’t give you the big crash afterward that coffee is known for (or the increase in heart rate!). Below, find out what to put in your mouth to keep your eyes open when you want to stay alert. (Don’t worry—all of them are delicious!)
Green Tea. Dehydration can make you feel sleepy, but getting plenty of fluids will help boost alertness. Water is your best bet for hydration, but if you must have caffeine, opt for green tea instead of coffee. It has less caffeine (about 35 milligrams compared to about 200 milligrams) so you won’t have the same come-down once it wears off. Also, it’s loaded with good-for-you antioxidants.
Chocolate. Cocoa beans naturally contain alertness-boosting caffeine, but not as much as coffee. Bonus: Chocolate also has heart-healthy flavonoids. Remember, the darker the chocolate, the more the caffeine it has.Just don’t use this as an excuse to overindulge – dark chocolate, like almost anything dessert-worthy, is best consumed in moderation.
Whole Grains. Your body converts carbs to energy, and whole grains break down more slowly than simple, refined sugars (such as white bread or white rice), giving you a more steady energy release. Try noshing on brown rice, oats, barley, and rye. If you want a topper for some whole grain toast, try natural peanut butter and half a banana.
Fruits. Fruits have sugars for a quick energy burst, but they don’t boost your glucose levels as much as say, candy, so you won’t crash and burn. Try fruits packed with vitamin C, such as oranges and pineapple, which help your body convert fat to energy, so you can ward off fatigue.
Protein. Protein offers a slow energy release. Try lean meats. Even though turkey has a reputation for making you sleepy because it contains tryptophan, a small amount may give your body the fuel ‘boost’ you need to get through a long afternoon.
Before eating, try to take a walk around the block and expose yourself to natural light (which can keep your body reminded that it’s time to stay awake) or do a few jumping jacks at your desk to get blood flowing again. Sleepy people are more likely to be hungry, so if you wake up a bit, you will feel less tempted to overindulge.