Healthy Snacks For Energy

  • Priyanshi SikkaM.Sc in Pharmacovigilance & Clinical Research, Pharmaceutical Sciences, Chitkara University
  • Chimdi OkoyeBSc in Pharmaceutical Science and Regulatory Affairs, Kingston University

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Have you ever found yourself struggling to stay focused and alert during the day? It’s a challenge that many of us frequently face. Scientifically proven, our brains constantly need a supply of energy to function at their best.

So we often follow the quick fix, thereby reaching for coffee, sugar or energy drinks which unfortunately might lead to a crash. Thus, one of the most effective ways to maintain a certain energy level is by fueling ourselves with nourishing options and smart snacks.1

So, if you are tired of feeling like you are running on empty, it might be time to reconsider your snacking habits. In this article, we will explore healthier alternatives that can keep your energy levels up throughout the day, thus you can stay focused and productive.2

Background

The concept of snacking often deals with the consumption of food or related items aside from regular meal items. However, the precise definition of snacking can vary across different studies and research. Some focus on time intervals (for instance 30 minutes), while others prioritise portion sizes or calorie intake.3

Despite these variations, it remains crucial to distinguish between snacks and meals when analysing their contribution to daily energy intake and their overall effects on the health of the individuals.

Here are some considerations, which are needed to be kept in mind while tailoring your nutritional requirements. This includes:

  • Choose meals that are high in fiber and complex carbs. These often take longer to digest and provide you with more energy
  • Opt for meals rich in proteins. This will promote fullness and release appetite-suppressing hormones, which will automatically slow digestion
  • Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water. This has also seen to be beneficial for maintain energy levels4
  • Maintain your energy levels consistent throughout the day by scheduling your meals and snacks
  • Pay attention to the amount of food and its proportion to prevent overindulging
  • Consider factors like age, gender and physical activity level to attain desired goals in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle

Snack choices and body weight 

The type and frequency of snacks an individual is consuming can influence the overall body weight and health outcomes. These habits are often neglected, but when taken into consideration can play a significant role in weight management and its related issues. Research indicates that snacks high in added sugars (cakes, cookies), refined grains (white bread, pasta) and unhealthy fats (cream, fried foods) elevate the risk of chronic conditions such as obesity, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.5

Furthermore, frequent snacking, particularly on foods that are high in energy and low in nutrients, may cause overconsumption of calories and eventually lead to weight gain. The solution lies in:

  • Selecting your snacks more vigilantly 
  • Opting for practising mindful reading
  • Consuming smaller and balanced snacks between meals
  • Preventing overeating during main meals6

These practices will help you maintain a healthy body weight and enjoy the benefits of snacking while promoting overall health.

We will now proceed to explore a variety of nutritious snacks ideal for boosting energy levels. This article will provide insight into a range of nutrient-rich snack options that are optimal for enhancing energy levels.

Fruits - Fruits play a crucial role in providing energy to an individual due to their constituents which contain natural intrinsic sugars, vitamins, minerals and fibre content. Fruits not only provide you with energy but also contribute to managing optimal hydration levels in the body.7 Therefore, incorporating a variety of fruits as snacks can provide a balanced combination of carbohydrates, minerals and antioxidants which make them an essential component of energy-boosting snacks. 

Yoghurt - A natural yoghurt is rich in protein, carbohydrates and probiotics. Proteins serve to repair muscles and keep you full and satisfied, preventing energy dips between meals.8 Carbohydrates provide a quick energy boost and probiotics are crucial for supporting gut health which ultimately smoothens digestion and nutrient absorption.

Oatmeal - Oats are rich in fibre and complex carbohydrates and as compared to other breakfast options, they could allow the body to feel satiated for longer. Other micronutrients such as manganese, phosphorus, magnesium and vitamin B help in energy metabolism and can help you stay fueled and focused throughout the day.

Popcorn - It is one of the foods that works well for portion management. They serve as a good source of dietary fibre and are generally low in calories. You can customise it to suit your different tastes and preferences.

Brown rice - Brown rice is a nutritious whole grain that is rich in complex carbohydrates. These are usually digested slowly, providing a steady release of energy over time. Incorporating brown rice into your snack rotation can help you maintain energy levels.9

Peanut butter - Peanut butter is a nutritious option for boosting your energy levels. It is rich in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats which ensures a slow release of energy, thus making you satisfied between meals.

Nuts - Nuts are rich in healthy fats, protein, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin E and fibre. Here are some examples:

  • Cashews - Good source of magnesium
  • Pecans - Good source of manganese and copper
  • Brazil nuts - Good source of selenium
  • Hazelnuts - Good source of vitamin E and healthy fats10
  • Almonds- Good source of omega-3 fatty acids

Green tea - Green tea is a healthy and refreshing option for boosting energy levels. What makes it unique is a unique combination of caffeine, L-theanine and antioxidants which provides a natural and sustainable way to support energy levels throughout.

Having discussed vegetarian snack options, let’s now explore some choices for those who include non-vegetarian options in their diet. Here are some sources of energy-boosting snacks to consider:

  1. Eggs - Eggs are incredibly rich in high-quality protein, and contain all the essential nine amino acids which are needed for muscle repair and growth. These are generally low in calories, yet high in nutrient content, making them a satisfying snack option to consider
  2. Beef liver - Essential nutrients including iron, vitamin B12, B6 and riboflavin are present in beef liver. These constituents play a significant role in energy metabolism and support the body in hormone regulation, promoting immune function and enhancing the overall energy of the body11

In this article, we have included a few examples of energy-boosting snacks. Remember that you have the option of choosing a wide range of alternative nutrient-rich options to help you meet your daily energy demands. Explore a variety of snacks to determine which one suits you best and tailor it accordingly.

Snacks that drain your energy

You must be wondering about the snacks that can drain your energy. Let’s check these options too to help you make more informed choices for sustaining your energy levels throughout the day.12 These include:

  • Pasta
  • White bread
  • Alcohol
  • Energy drinks
  • Fried and fast foods

Summary

In this article, we have looked at several nutritious snacks to keep you energised throughout the day. From fruits and yoghurts to nuts and whole grains, we highlighted diverse options that are rich in protein, fibre and essential nutrients. Additionally, we also discussed some non-vegetarian options and emphasised the importance of mindful eating. Incorporating these snacks into our diets can fuel our bodies effectively and maintain vitality throughout the day.

References

  1. Njike VY, Smith TM, Shuval O, Shuval K, Edshteyn I, Kalantari V, et al. Snack Food, Satiety, and Weight123. Adv Nutr [Internet]. 2016 [cited 2024 Feb 22]; 7(5):866–78. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5015032/.
  2. The Best Snacks to Eat for Energy, According to a Dietitian. EatingWell [Internet]. [cited 2024 Feb 22]. Available from: https://www.eatingwell.com/article/7870299/best-snacks-to-eat-for-energy-dietitian/.
  3. 20 Healthy Snacks Under 200 Calories. EverydayHealth.com [Internet]. 2023 [cited 2024 Feb 22]. Available from: https://www.everydayhealth.com/diet-and-nutrition-pictures/snacks-under-200-calories.aspx.
  4. Patterson K. Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Health System [Internet]. 2021. Healthy Snack and Hydration Ideas for Heading Back to the Office; [cited 2024 Feb 22]. Available from: https://health.fmolhs.org/body/eating-well/healthy-snack-and-hydration-ideas-for-heading-back-to-the-office/.
  5. Avenue 677 Huntington, Boston, Ma 02115. The Science of Snacking. The Nutrition Source [Internet]. 2021 [cited 2024 Feb 22]. Available from: https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/snacking/.
  6. Njike VY, Smith TM, Shuval O, Shuval K, Edshteyn I, Kalantari V, et al. Snack Food, Satiety, and Weight. Adv Nutr. 2016; 7(5):866–78.
  7. Medicine N. Jump Start Snacks: 10 Foods to Energize Your Afternoon. Northwestern Medicine [Internet]. [cited 2024 Feb 22]. Available from: https://www.nm.org/healthbeat/healthy-tips/nutrition/jump-start-snacks.
  8. Drayer L. Is yogurt healthy? CNN [Internet]. 2017 [cited 2024 Feb 22]. Available from: https://www.cnn.com/2017/02/24/health/is-yogurt-healthy-food-drayer/index.html.
  9. Contributors WE. Health Benefits of Brown Rice. WebMD [Internet]. [cited 2024 Feb 22]. Available from: https://www.webmd.com/diet/health-benefits-brown-rice.
  10. The Top 9 Nuts to Eat for Better Health. Healthline [Internet]. 2018 [cited 2024 Feb 22]. Available from: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/9-healthy-nuts.
  11. Beef liver: Nutrition, benefits, and risks [Internet]. 2021 [cited 2024 Feb 22]. Available from: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/beef-liver-nutrition.
  12. Hannah T. Lifehack [Internet]. 2022. 8 Foods That Can Drain Your Energy (And 5 That Boost Yours); [cited 2024 Feb 22]. Available from: https://www.lifehack.org/920975/foods-that-drain-your-energy.

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This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

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Priyanshi Sikka

M.Sc in Pharmacovigilance & Clinical Research, Pharmaceutical Sciences, Chitkara University

Priyanshi Sikka, a Pharmacist equipped with a Master's degree in Pharmacovigilance and Clinical Research from Chitkara University, India. Proficient in ICSR processing, MedDRA coding, and narrative crafting, Priyanshi brings a depth of expertise to her practice. Beyond her professional role, she serves as a freelance science educator for senior secondary students, sharing her passion for learning. Priyanshi's dedication to advancing knowledge is evident through her published works in respected journals.

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