Many people experience a mid-afternoon dip in energy levels during busier days. If you have the ability to do so, a quick power nap is a great way to get a quick recharge, but most businesses have not yet followed Google’s lead in providing high tech nap pods for employees.

Almost everyone else heads to the office coffee pot or makes a Starbucks run for America’s favorite pick-me-up. While boosting energy levels with caffeine may solve your immediate energy problem, it also creates an even bigger one. The quick boost caffeine provides is generally followed by an even bigger crash, much like sugar does.

There is however, a natural and easy way to boost energy levels that won’t lead to a major crash. Certain foods can give a natural energy boost and keep your energy levels high. Generally, these foods are a mixture of three important components: protein, complex carbs and good fats. Good fats are the generally the Omegas 3,6 and 9 that not only give you energy, but also help boost your brainpower, giving you clarity and focus as well.

Carbohydrates break down the most quickly in your system, and give you the most immediate energy. Complex carbohydrates are best, however, because while they break down quickly, they don’t immediately hit your bloodstream and cause a spike the way simple carbohydrates like sugar do. Anything that provides an immediate spike generally also creates a subsequent crash. Proteins take the longest to break down in your system, so they provide energy for the long term. Carbohydrates will generally give you energy within about 15 minutes but that energy won’t last longer than about an hour. Proteins take about an hour to start breaking down, so by the time carbohydrates stop working, proteins kick in to take up where they left off.

Next time you need some quick but long-lasting energy, bypass the coffee pot and try one of these quick snacks instead.

  • Low-fat chocolate milk
  • Roasted edamame
  • Greek yogurt and berries
  • Whole wheat crackers and peanut butter
  • Trail mix
  • String cheese and an apple
  • Peanut butter & banana
  • Low fat milk or yogurt and granola
  • Crackers and tuna
  • Whole wheat English muffin & hard-boiled egg