It's a few hours after lunch and that late afternoon energy slump is setting in. But don't head for the coffee or the candy machine looking for a boost--there are far healthier snacks that'll energize you without packing on the pounds or keeping you up at night. And better yet, they include foods that contain an unsaturated fat that can help postpone future attacks of the munchies. A few of our favorites:
1. Olive Oil: Sounds crazy, but olive oil is actually full of an unsaturated fat that'll keep you full longer. According to a study recently published in the journal Cell Metabolism, once oleic acid reaches the intestine, it's converted into a hormone that helps fend off the next wave of hunger pangs. Try dipping high-fiber bread in olive oil instead of using butter, or have a couple of olives on crackers, says Jenn Stokols, a registered dietician and the nutritionist at Nova Medical Group in Virginia.
2. Nuts: We all know that almonds, peanuts and walnuts make a great, healthy snack--they contain oleic acid and are full of protein, which provides long-lasting energy and helps build muscles and bones. But go a little crazy--add high-fiber cereals and a couple of sweets to make homemade trail mix, or experiment with nut butters; you can upgrade the traditional peanut butter and jelly sandwich with almond or even macadamia nut butter.