There is a natural energy cycle to a normal working day. Everyone has a morning routine that ends when they get to work. Then they pick up speed into late morning and by lunchtime, they are ready to recharge on some hopefully tasty food before finishing a few projects. But by mid-afternoon, everyone starts to feel a little tired. Their eyes droop and it gets harder to focus. In order to continue working efficiently, most people reach for a coffee, that candy bar in their desk, or head for the vending machine for a packaged pick-me-up.
But as you probably know from experience, some snacks are more effective at perking you up than others. The problem is that most people get their afternoon pick-me-up from the vending machine or an indulgent stash of desk snacks. Let’s dive into the three most tempting but least helpful snacks in the vending machine that will leave you tired all afternoon. More importantly, let’s talk about how to choose more energizing Paleo alternatives that are equally satisfying and will energize you for your day.
1) Snack Cakes
Snack cakes are by far the most tempting item in the vending machine. They look like a great option for people who are hungry again after lunch. Snack cakes seem like more food per package than other options and the sugar provides a temporary energy (and motivational) kick on a hard day. However, that energy doesn’t stick with you for long.
Alternative: Instead of refined sugary carbs, sate your sweet tooth and get that energy boost the Paleo natural way with energy balls, usually made of blended nuts, shaved coconut, raw cocoa powder, and fresh fruit. These will satisfy your sweet craving while actually filling you with energizing proteins that will help you make it to closing time.
2) Potato Chips
For many of us, feeling sluggish is easily answered with the taste of salt. Potato chips are a common afternoon solution when it’s hard to focus because salt granules on your tongue can effectively perk up your brain. However, chips are made of refined, pressed, and oil-fried starch and just like the snack cakes, the energy provided is only temporary. Worse, potatoes are very high on the glycemic index and have the same effect as consuming straight sugar with all the usual implications.
Alternative: If you crave a savory snack, there are tons of great Paleo alternatives. Try a small handful of salt-free mixed nuts instead.
3) Candy Bars
The candy bar is one of the least healthy vending machine options for your 2pm pick-me-up. But boy is it satisfying. Candy bars often have several tempting elements from the caffeine-laced chocolate to the protein-rich nuts inside. But a candy bar is also packed with unnecessary calories in sugar and fat. Not to mention the predictable sugar crash an hour later.
Don’t set yourself up for negative consequences by grabbing a candy bar from the vending machine or keeping a stash in your desk. You’ll only find yourself hungry and tired no matter how satisfying the chocolate was at first.
Alternative: A candy bar craving often signifies a need for calories and nutrient variety. Especially if you crave nuts in your chocolate. Instead of heading to the vending machine, try packing yourself a healthy trail mix of nuts, seeds, dried fruit, and dark chocolate. That will definitely hit the spot without the diet-guilt of munching on a candy bar full of empty calories. It’s not perfectly Paleo, but a far better alternative to candy bars.
Many professionals make the wrong choice when looking for snacks that will keep them energized and efficient at work. And the vending machine options aren’t doing them any favors. If you want your team to face the usual afternoon drowsiness head-on, consider providing healthy snacks that are long-term sources of energy like nuts, some trail mixes, and of course fresh fruit and vegetables.