It happens every day like clockwork: Your eyelids start to feel heavy, your head bobs forward, and you've reread the same sentence five times now. It's the dreaded 3 p.m. slump, and if you think the only way to get through the rest of the day is with sugar or caffeine, your go-to energy-boosting foods, think again. While you may get an immediate jolt, you'll likely crash a half hour later. "You're not fixing the initial tiredness and it can cause problems later in the day," says Kim Hoban, RD. "You're getting that sugar spike, and crashing and feeling worse. And when you get home from work, you're starving, jittery, and cranky, and tend to reach for what's right in front of you instead of the healthier choice."
So step away from the coffee and candy, and grab one of these seven energy-boosting foods instead:
Almonds are the golden child of the healthy snack world — and for good reason. They're rich in vitamin E and minerals like manganese and magnesium, which play a key role in the body's production of energy. And since most of us don't get the recommended amount of magnesium anyway, a handful of almonds isn't a bad choice.
Sometimes that sleepy, sluggish feeling is your body's way of telling you you're dehydrated. Next time you feel your eyes getting heavy, try munching on some melon. "Choosing foods with a higher water content is a good bet," says Hoban. "They can satisfy a little of that sweet tooth and help you avoid dehydration."
Need a grab-and-go snack in the morning or afternoon? Hard-boiled eggs are one of the best energy-boosting foods. Not only are eggs high in protein, they are also rich in B vitamins. "B Vitamins help us metabolize our food, and convert the food and nutrients into the energy we use," says Hoban.
Having a love affair with avocados isn't uncommon, thanks to their creamy, smooth texture. Avocados are a great source of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats as well as potassium and magnesium. Researchers from Loma Linda University found that this nutrient-dense food kept people full longer and reduced their desire to eat. Avocado toast anyone?
Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries — these bright-colored berries are irresistible, especially during the summer months. Luckily, these high-fiber fruits can keep you feeling full while also satisfying your sweet tooth. Plus, they're jam-packed with antioxidants. "It's going to help provide energy, immune function, and muscle recovery," says Hoban.
Chia seeds have become a very popular superfood. According to Hoban, they're a good source of protein, fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium, calcium, and iron, and they're super filling. While you can add chia seeds to your smoothie or oatmeal, or make your own chia pudding, Hoban suggests adding the seeds to water with freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice. "It's a satisfying afternoon drink that you can have instead of going to the candy bowl," she says.
"Lentils are a little tiny superfood," says Hoban. They are a great source of plant-based protein and fiber, which will help you to slowly digest. You also won't see that quick spike in your blood sugar, according to Hoban.
While these seven energy-boosting foods can help you avoid the energy spikes and crashes throughout the day, remember that they're only part of the bigger picture. "Energy comes from food, sleep, and exercise, and the whole combination of those things work together to give us good energy," says Hoban. "We want to eat food to provide energy, but make sure everything else is in balance, too."