04/27/2012 03:23 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

What to Eat to Beat an Afternoon Energy Slump

By Kerri-Ann Jennings, M.S., R.D. Associate Nutrition Editor for EatingWell Magazine

As the afternoon rolls along (or drags on, depending on your take), the office candy bowl sees an uptick in traffic. But a new study shows that it’s not sugar, but protein that you should reach for to beat an afternoon slump.

The study, from the University of Cambridge in England and published in the November 2011 issue of Neuron, found that while glucose (sugar) blocks certain neurons that help you feel awake, the amino acids in protein prevent that from happening. So, if you eat some carbs at lunch, a protein-rich afternoon snack may keep you from feeling sleepy. And since protein helps keep you feeling full longer, that snack might tide you over better than a sugary one and keep you from snacking too much throughout the afternoon.

Related: Health Reasons Not to Quit Coffee (and Cons to Consider)

Here are some protein-rich afternoon snacks to try:

Steamed Edamame with Coarse SaltSteamed Edamame with Coarse Salt

Spiced Chickpea Spiced Chickpea “Nuts”

Guacamole-Stuffed EggsA hard-boiled egg—eat it plain or gussy it up: Guacamole-Stuffed Eggs

GorpTrail mix of nuts and dried fruit

Feta & Herb DipVeggies and hummus or Feta & Herb Dip

Turkey RollupsTurkey Rollups—Spread 2 slices of deli turkey breast with 2 teaspoons mustard (or mango chutney) each and season with pepper. Wrap each prepared turkey slice around 2 sesame breadsticks.

Also try:

  • A smoothie made with silken tofu or yogurt or this Banana-Cocoa Soy Smoothie
  • Nonfat yogurt snack tip: Greek yogurt delivers more protein than regular yogurt.
  • Banana and peanut butter
  • Open-face tuna sandwich
  • Nonfat latte (decaf or regular)

Don’t Miss: Best and Worst Protein Choices for Your Diet

What foods help you beat an afternoon slump?

By Kerri-Ann Jennings

Kerri-Ann Jennings

Kerri-Ann, a registered dietitian, is the associate editor of nutrition for EatingWell magazine, where she puts her master's degree in nutrition from Columbia University to work writing and editing news about nutrition, health and food trends. In her free time, Kerri-Ann likes to practice yoga, hike, bake and paint.

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