Foods that give you energy during an afternoon slump

It’s 2 p.m. You’re feeling sleepy. You still have three more hours of work, but your energy is zapped. How can you power through the rest of the day? 

Sure, you could guzzle a few cups of coffee, but you know that coffee is just a temporary fix and may impact your sleep. Luckily, certain foods are known for boosting energy in a different and more sustained way than caffeine. These foods are perfect for your mid-afternoon slump at work.

Healthy foods to eat for energy

Food provides energy in the form of calories, which give you the energy you need to accomplish daily tasks. This is not the same as the “energy” caffeine provides. The energy provided by calories is not immediate; they fuel your body’s needs to get through the day.

The right balance of macronutrients (carbohydrates, proteins and fats), vitamins and minerals are also an essential part of maintaining your energy levels. Start by choosing the right carbohydrates that are high in fiber, but low on the glycemic index. Foods low on the glycemic index are typically vegetables, high-fiber fruits and whole grains. 

Then balance low-glycemic foods with foods high in protein and healthy fats to keep your blood sugar and energy stable throughout the day. 

You might be wondering, what foods are good for energy? Here are some of our top choices:

Whole grains

Glucose is the best energy source for the brain and central nervous system, but it needs to be balanced with fiber. You can find glucose paired with fiber in carbohydrates like whole wheat, oatmeal, quinoa and other high-fiber grains. 

Nuts and seeds

Not only is a snack bag of almonds or pistachios convenient, but it’s also an energy booster. That’s because most nuts contain magnesium, potassium and sodium, which are required for energy.

Seeds are also a great way to add minerals and healthy fats to your diet. Chia, flax and hemp seeds are great to add to a smoothie or sprinkle over a salad.

Greek yogurt

A quick work snack could be a cup of Greek yogurt from the refrigerator. This food contains healthy bacteria, is high in protein and is a good source of magnesium and calcium, which can fuel you for the rest of the workday. Choose lower sugar or plain varieties and add some berries for sweetness.

Fresh fruits and vegetables

Fruits and vegetables are the foundation of any healthy diet. Choose fresh or frozen most often when possible. Limit your intake of canned, candied or dried fruits, as these typically add salt or sugar. 

Try to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables throughout the day. Good choices include green, leafy vegetables like spinach and broccoli. These are high in vitamins, minerals and fiber. Avocados, tomatoes, bell peppers and cucumbers are also great sources of nutrition. 

Most fruits contain a variety of sugars (glucose, fructose and sucrose) and fiber — a good combination for a source of energy. Pack a banana in your lunch and save it for when you feel drained later in the day.

Another fruit that works as a pick-me-up is oranges. This vitamin-C-packed snack also contains potassium, folate and fiber — not to mention it smells divine.

Lean protein

Protein helps provide lasting energy, keeps your blood sugar stable and is needed to support healthy muscle. It should be paired with foods high in carbohydrates at meals. Choose lean proteins that are lower in fat, like chicken, fish, low-fat Greek yogurt, eggs, tofu, beans and legumes. 

Other diet tips to boost your energy

In order to keep your energy stable throughout the day, there are a few other things you can do. First, limit the amount of processed or high-sugar foods you consume. Limit sugar-sweetened beverages that provide a quick burst of energy followed by a crash.

Start your day with a well-balanced breakfast. Breakfast should include foods that wake you up and have a balance of carbohydrates, protein and fats. Great choices might include Greek yogurt with berries or a veggie omelet with whole-grain toast. 

Eat regularly throughout the day, listening to your body’s hunger signals. Avoid getting overly hungry. While there isn’t an eating pattern that is ideal for everyone, your body is your best guide when you need to eat. 

The bottom line for boosting your energy with food

The above snacks and foods are easy to take to work and eat during a mid-afternoon slump — and they’re also great for boosting your energy. When you feel the fatigue coming, bust out your snack and reboot. 

Healthy eating is crucial for a healthy life. It’s also good for your immune system, which can prevent illnesses like colds, the flu, strep throat and more. If you are dealing with a minor illness, walk-in or save a spot at one of our urgent care centers through our healthcare providers. We’ll be here to help.