Healthy snacks can help you maintain stable energy throughout the day, a dietitian said.
Whole grains and complex carbs have more fiber to keep you fueled for longer.
To avoid crashes, be mindful of added sugars and pick nutrient-dense sweets like fruit.
If you’re feeling sluggish during the day, it may be time to reassess your snacking habits.
A healthy snacking routine can help you have more energy throughout the day, according to registered dietitian Samantha MacLeod of Fresh Communications, a company that works with brands on their health messaging.
“The key to creating a balanced and filling snack is ensuring you have a combination of two of these three components: protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fat,” she told Insider.
Reaching for snack options like whole grains, fruit, and oats can provide complex carbohydrates to keep you fueled for longer and prevent spikes and crashes after eating, MacLeod said.
Whole grains are a good source of fiber for more stable energy
When you’re reaching for a snack to boost your energy levels, one type of nutrient is especially helpful, according to MacLeod.
“Carbs are king, because they are our bodies’ main energy source,” she said. “Specifically, complex carbohydrate foods with higher amounts of fiber take longer to breakdown and provide more lasting energy than refined carbs.”
Refined carbs like white bread and added sugar are absorbed quickly. That can cause a much more rapid rise in blood sugar, following by a more abrupt dip that can lead to a “roller coaster” of disrupted energy and focus, dietitian Bonnie Taub-Dix previously told Insider.
The fiber in foods like whole grains helps slow the absorption of glucose as your body breaks down the carbs into simple sugar for energy.
As an added bonus, fiber helps feed beneficial bacteria in the digestive system (a major benefit for gut health).
Some good snacks options with a boost of fiber include whole grain crackers with your favorite veggies, or whole grain bread topped with cottage cheese that also provides protein, MacLeod said.
Foods like fruit and oats can keep you fueled for longer than sugary treats
If you’re often feeling drowsy or groggy after eating, it may be worth analyzing your typical eating habits. While a healthy diet does include room for treats, regularly consuming too much added sugar might provide a temporary boost, but cause a crash later in the day, MacLeod said.
“Look at what you’ve eaten throughout the day, If you’ve had a lot of foods with added sugar, you might want to look at adding more complex carbs,” she said.
One option to swap out for convenient carb sources like pastries or muffins is oats, with options like baked or overnight oats providing the grab-and-go energy with more fiber (and less processing).
Fruit is another excellent alternative to refined carbs, according to MacLeod. While fruit contains some sugars that are naturally-occurring, they’re balanced out by the presence of fiber and other nutrients. Fruits that are especially high in fiber include apples (with the skin on), berries, and citrus.
“Natural sugars can be great,” MacLeod said.
For a mid-afternoon or evening sweet tooth, try fruit with a bit of dark chocolate, which provides added benefits thanks to special plant nutrients known as flavonols.
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