We’ve all been there. A co-worker brings in cupcakes or potato chips for the office, and you succumb to the siren call of free food — only to fight off the urge to nap afterward. Nutrition and eating habits have a direct hit on energy level, mental sharpness and motivation, says Elizabeth DeRobertis, a registered dietician and nutritionist at Scarsdale Medical Group, who recommends strategic snacking.
“The idea of strategic snacking is to identify the right snacks that fill you up and hold you over but also don't become a trigger — leaving you craving more snacks," she says.
A healthy snack should be about 100 calories to 150 calories and nutrient-dense, advises DeRobertis. “It should also be pre-portioned, so that you don't need to worry about counting or measuring when you are at work and have other distractions.” Space two snacks two hours apart following lunch. Strategic snacking can keep your appetite in check, maintain your energy level and keep your body balanced — plus stop you from overeating.
Here are ten snacks that are nutrient-dense and will help keep you satisfied.
Related: Avoid These 5 Common Office Snack Foods That Could Harm Your Health
1. Almonds, Walnuts or Pistachios
Blue Diamond, Emerald and Wonderful are just some of the brands that make 100-calorie nut packs, DeRobertis says. Otherwise, aim for 15 to 20 nuts per serving. Many nuts are rich in protein, fiber and unsaturated fats (the cholesterol-lowering omega-3 fatty acids kind), which make you feel full and have powerful antioxidants, such as Vitamin E.
2. Hummus and Veggies
Try a sliced red pepper (one medium-size raw, 30 calories), sugar snap peas (12 pods, 30 calories) or baby carrots (12 carrots, 50 calories) with a snack-size 2-ounce container of hummus (130 calories), suggests Meredith Stanford, registered dietician and nutritionist at Meredith Stanford Nutrition. Sabra sells individual snack-size containers, or you can use a 2-ounce reusable container to measure your portion.
3. High-Protein Yogurt and Berries
Both Greek yogurt and Icelandic-style skyr — which is technically a skim milk cheese marketed as a yogurt — are strained, high-protein, creamy dairy products that are available nonfat and keep you full. Portion a single container size (6 ounces) of yogurt or skyr (100 calories) and one cup of blueberries, cherries, raspberries or strawberries (50 calories), Stanford recommends.
Related: 12 Ways to Eat Healthy No Matter How Busy You Are
4. KIND Bars
Stanford recommends KIND bars (150 calories per bar), which have protein, fiber and healthy fats. The majority of KIND bars are made with with nuts and dried fruit, both highly satiating ingredients, which help minimize the calories needed to get full and stay full.
5. Apples and Nut Butter
For those with a sweet craving, slice a medium-size apple (70 calories) and spread it with 1 tablespoon of either peanut or almond butter (100 calories), Stanford suggests. Apples are high in fiber, and nut butter is high in protein and unsaturated fat (the good kind). Even just a heaping spoonful of nut butter at 3 or 4 p.m. will stabilize blood sugar and quell hunger.
6. Babybel Light Cheese
Cheese is packed with protein which your body digests slowly so it helps you stay full for hours, says Karen Ansel, registered dietician and nutritionist, and co-author of The Calendar Diet: A Month by Month Guide to Losing Weight While Living Your Life. Most cheeses pack a lot of fat and calories, so Ansel recommends three wheels of Mini Babybel Light Cheese (150 calories), providing 18 grams of protein.
Related: Eat Your Way to Success With These 4 Tips
7. Cottage Cheese and Fruit
One small container of nonfat cottage cheese (1 cup) is approximately 100 calories, DeRobertis explains. Sweeten with a cup of berries (50 calories), or use cucumber and dill (10 calories) to make it savory.
“Avocados are full of omega-3 fats and antioxidants, so keep a few around at work,” recommends Marissa Lippert, registered dietician and owner of New York City’s Nourish Kitchen + Table. Eating one-half an avocado with a drizzle of olive oil and sea salt is not only tasty but will squash the afternoon energy crash.
9. Way Better Multigrain Corn Tortilla Chips
Way Better Multigrain Corn Tortilla Chips are made with whole grains such as stone ground corn, flaxseed, quinoa, brown rice and chia seeds — so they’re digested very slowly helping you stay full, Ansel says. A one ounce serving (12 chips) is 130 calories.
Olives are a good source of the antioxidant Vitamin E and “are full of healthy fats [that reduce risk for cardiovascular disease] and are super satisfying,” Lippert says, who recommends a serving of 5 to 10 olives.
Related: 10 Simple Ways to Eat Healthy Without Thinking