15 Healthy Snacks for Work
When you are working, whether you are at home or the office, you need healthy snacks to satisfy your hunger and give you a quick energy boost. Foods with slow-releasing carbohydrates, high-quality protein, vitamins, and minerals will naturally sustain energy levels throughout the day. Those with healthy omega-3 fatty acids improve mental focus and clarity, both of which can make you more productive at work.
To get the most out of your snacks, you should aim to include protein, fiber, and healthy fats into all of your snacks and meals. These macronutrients stabilize blood sugar and signal the release of satiety hormones, which means you will stay fuller longer and have fewer cravings. Protein is the most satiating of the 3 macronutrients, so opt for a snack higher in protein on days where you feel more hungry.
However, eating healthy is not always an easy task, especially when you are busy working. To help you put together healthy snacks for work, we outline 15 foods to keep you fueled during the day. Plus, we offer some quick and easy preparation tips to make these foods even tastier.
Nuts and seeds are both packed with protein, and protein helps you feel satisfied and reduces late afternoon hunger pains. Walnuts, pistachios, almonds, and cashews are also full of heart-healthy, monounsaturated fats, which help lower LDL cholesterol and regulate blood sugar. And just a quarter cup of pumpkin seeds contains a whopping 9 grams of protein.
Plus, these snacks have several other vitamins and minerals, such as fiber and vitamin E—an antioxidant that boosts your immune system and promotes healthy skin.
Preparation Tip: Nuts are a great snack on their own, either raw or roasted and lightly salted. These crunchy treats are also great in a trail mix with dried fruit and seeds or sprinkled on yogurt. Cory Starbird, Integrative Health Coach, says, “I recommend avoiding roasted nuts that have been coated in vegetable oil. Raw, sprouted nuts and seeds have the most bioavailable enzymes and nutrients and are also easier to digest.”
Fruit dried is sweet and offers a nice pick-me-up for the middle of the workday. Dried fruit has a high fiber content, which will help you feel fuller longer and tide you over till your next meal. Dried apricots and cherries are also full of vitamins and minerals, such as folate, which converts carbohydrates to energy and produces red and white blood cells in the bone marrow.
All of that said, dried fruit can be very high in sugar since most of the water has been removed. Eating dried fruit alone can create a spike in blood sugar, and then a subsequent drop, which will increase hunger. Cory Starbird says, ” I only recommend dried fruit in small quantities eaten along with protein and healthy fats. I like the suggestion to pair the dried fruit with nuts.”
Preparation Tip: As Cory suggests, mix your dried fruit with nuts and seeds; try a quarter cup of almonds with a quarter cup of cherries. Both almonds and cherries are packed with fiber and make a filling snack when eaten together.
Hard-boiled eggs make a perfect portable snack for the workday. Eggs have a high protein content for a snack—just one large egg contains over 6 grams of protein. Each gram of protein provides your body with four calories of energy. However, protein from healthy fats, like eggs, give you more sustainable energy boosts, while those from carbohydrates may spike and quickly taper off.
Eggs also contain acetylcholine or choline, which is essential for brain function, muscle control, mood regulation, and memory. If you prefer a non-dairy diet, you can also get choline from certain beans, such as lima and kidney beans. “Non-GMO or organic soy lecithin is an excellent source of choline if you tolerate soy,” suggests Cory.
Preparation Tip: You can pair a lightly salted hard-boiled egg with a small plate of dried fruits and nuts or some raw veggie sticks. You can also smash boiled eggs on a piece of whole-grain bread for a quick snack.
Avocados are high in polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats—healthy fats that reduce blood pressure and inflammation. Avocados are also a great source of fiber. One cup of avocado contains about 10 grams of fiber, so they leave you feeling satisfied and prepared for the rest of your day.
Preparation Tip: Avocados can be mashed and spread on toast or crackers. You can also add a small amount of salsa to mashed avocado for quick guacamole you can eat with sliced raw vegetables or whole wheat crackers.
Celery contains water and fiber and can be a filling and refreshing afternoon snack. It is also low in calories but high in calcium and vitamin K, which are essential for bone health and proper digestion.
Preparation Tip: Although celery may seem like a boring vegetable on its own, there are several ways you can dress it up to create a delicious snack. You can pair it with nut butter, which is high in healthy fats and protein. Together, these two indigents will give you a much-needed energy boost. “Celery is also good paired with hummus or tahini dip,” says Cory Starbird.
Edamame beans are immature soybeans inside their pod. These beans are super high in plant-based protein—with one cup of edamame beans containing 17 grams of protein. Plant-based protein is especially important for those who don’t eat meat or dairy. These beans have also been shown to control appetite and help promote weight loss, which is ideal if you are looking for a low calorie, yet filling, daytime snack.
Preparation Tip: Edamame is great steamed or dried and lightly salted. When shopping, opt for non-GMO or organic soy, as most soy comes from GMO crops. (Whole soybeans and traditionally fermented soy are the best sources.) You can purchase them shelled or unshelled, and some brands even sell edamame in a steaming bag you can place right in the microwave.
Granola is easy to store in your desk drawer or bag for a quick snack; just make sure the granola you’re choosing has a low sugar content. Homemade trail mix can be super low in sugar, but any granola mix containing fewer than 4 grams of sugar is considered “healthy.”
To give yourself some variety, combine sunflower seeds, dried fruits, nuts, and oats to provide yourself a better balance of fiber, vitamins, and minerals and complex carbohydrates. Oats also contain soluble fiber to help lower cholesterol and blood pressure.
Preparation Tip: You can make a large batch of homemade granola ahead of time and eat it throughout the workweek. When purchasing store-bought granola, be sure to select one without added sugar or unhealthy oils that cause inflammation. Read the nutritional facts label to make sure it’s low on fats and sugars.
Nut butters, such as almond, cashew, and peanut butter, can add variety to your daily snacks. These spreads are high in vitamin E, magnesium, and folate, all of which can help maintain energy levels
Preparation Tip: Nut butters are incredibly versatile and make the perfect addition to your workday snack. These butters are delicious on toast, apples, celery, or rice cakes. When purchasing nut butter, be sure to choose one without added salt or sugar.
Chickpeas (Garbanzo Beans)
Chickpeas are well known as the key ingredients in hummus, but these legumes make a healthy snack on their own. Chickpeas are high in fiber and protein—the two essential elements for a healthy and satisfying snack. About a half a cup of chickpeas contains 5 grams of fiber and 7 grams of protein. Chickpeas also contain copper and phosphorus, both of which are needed to convert food into energy.
Preparation Tip: You can purchase chickpeas in a can and roast them in the oven. We also suggest pairing them with veggies for an added health boost.
If you have a blender at home, you can make a quick green smoothie full of healthy fruits and vegetables. Adding a banana to your smoothie gives you a boost of potassium, dietary fiber, vitamins C and B6. A tablespoon of nut butter is a great source of essential fatty acids, while a handful of spinach offers vitamins A and K. Spinach is also high in iron, which is needed for energy production.
Preparation Tip: When putting together your green smoothie, the possibilities are endless; but you should try to emphasize low-sugar, high-quality protein, fiber, and healthy fats. Start by selecting whatever fruits and veggies you like best, and add a liquid to help puree and blend your ingredients. It is best to opt for almond or oat milk or coconut water. Be sure to avoid juices with added sugar.
Hummus and Raw Veggies
Hummus is a creamy dip made with mashed chickpeas, tahini, olive oil, and lemon juice. When paired with carrots and celery sticks, this snack offers fiber, healthy fats, protein, and beta carotene, all of which boost immunity and energy levels.
Preparation Tip: You can make a quick hummus at home in your blender or purchase one of the many pre-made varieties. We suggest eating your hummus with sliced raw vegetables, but you can also spread hummus on whole wheat pita bread or crackers.
Coconut chips are the dried “meat” of the coconut, the white interior of the fruit. These chips have recently become a popular snack because they are sweet, crunchy, and satisfying. Coconut chips are rich in dietary fiber, which helps maintain blood sugar levels and sustains your energy during the workday.
Preparation Tip: You can eat coconut chips on their own or sprinkle them on yogurt or a protein shake. Plus, you can also add them to your homemade trail mix or granola.
Any fresh fruit makes a great snack, but bananas provide a boost of energy and help reduce sugar cravings, which often occur in the afternoon between lunch and dinner. Plus, bananas come in a convenient and portable peel with a built-in handle.
Preparation Tip: You can enjoy bananas as they are, or you can slice them and put them on top of toast with almond butter. Frozen bananas also make a great addition to an afternoon smoothie.
Dark chocolate makes a rich, decadent snack, and it may be just what you need to finish your workday. Dark chocolate with at least 70 percent cocoa is high in antioxidants, which help fight free radicals from toxins we come into contact with throughout the day. These antioxidants help fight infection and reduce the risk of developing certain types of cancers.
Preparation Tip: A square of dark chocolate is delicious on its own, or you can shave it and sprinkle it on a bowl of yogurt or fruit.
Greek Yogurt and Fruit
Plain Greek yogurt naturally contains good protein and calcium, and when fortified, provides decent amounts of Vitamin D. Yogurt is full of probiotics—living microorganisms that increase the development of healthy bacteria and help eliminate harmful bacteria. Probiotics promote a healthy gut and improve immune function.
Preparation Tip: Always opt for organic, grass-fed, or pasture-raised dairy to reduce your exposure to pesticides, antibiotics, and hormones, all of which disrupt microbiome health. When it comes to toppings for your plain Greek yogurt, there are a host of options available. You can add nuts, seeds, a tablespoon of honey or maple syrup, granola, and fruit to create a satisfying and nutritious snack.
Frequently Asked Questions
High protein snacks, such as eggs, legumes, nuts, and low-fat dairy products, can help you burn belly fat. Foods high in dietary soluble fiber, such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, can also reduce abdominal fat. When trying to reduce weight in your mid-section, it is helpful to avoid products with refined sugar and carbohydrates.
When your body is working to digest food, it can be difficult for you to relax and sleep. Therefore, it is best to avoid eating a large, heavy meal before bed. If you need a light snack before bed, we suggest eating foods to promote sleep. Bananas, honey, and cherries all contain serotonin and melatonin, which increase relaxation so you can fall asleep quickly.
You may also benefit from drinking a protein shake before bed.
Granola is an excellent source of protein, fiber, and complex carbohydrates. However, some brands may contain added sugars and fat. If you can, it is a good idea to make your granola yourself; this gives you more control over the nutrients and allows you to customize it to your preference. If you opt for store-bought granola, be sure to select one without too much sugar or saturated fats.
Popcorn is a high-fiber, low-calorie snack, perfect for those trying to lose weight. However, popcorn popped in oil or covered in butter has added fat, sodium, and calories. For a healthy snack, it is best to choose air-popped popcorn varieties and those with less salt.
If you are trying to lose weight or live a healthier lifestyle, it is best to avoid sugary drinks, such as fruit juice and soda. These drinks promote weight gain and increase your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Instead, focus on drinking water or unsweetened plant-based milk, such as almond and cashew milk. If you want to add flavor to your water, you can infuse it with fruit or add a splash of fresh juice.
Did We Help?
The best snacks for your workday are those with high fiber and complex carbohydrates content to satisfy your hunger between meals. Those with heart-healthy fats will also help you stay focused during work and afford you the mental clarity you need to be productive. “Aim to include protein, fiber, and healthy fats into all of your snacks and meals. These macronutrients stabilize blood sugar and signal the release of satiety hormones, which means you will stay fuller longer and have fewer cravings. Protein is the most satiating of the 3 macronutrients, so opt for a snack higher in protein on days where you feel more hungry,” says Cory Starbird. With some meal prep and a little planning, you will be creating quick and delicious workday snacks in no time.
This article is for informational purposes and should not replace advice from your doctor or other medical professional.