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 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. - Kerri-Ann Jennings, M.S., R.D.


Here are our top 10 AFTERNOON snacks, packed with protein.

  1. Greek yogurt cup
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  3. Apple with 2 tbs. of peanut butter
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  5. Cheese stick and a piece of fruit
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  7. Handful of nuts and fruit
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  9. High protein cereal with skim milk
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  11. Hardboiled egg with 2 slices of avocado
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  13. Low sodium beef jerky
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  15. Cheese stick and pretzels
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  17. Roasted pumpkin seeds
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  19. Sliced deli turkey roll-up
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Normal blood sugar typically falls after 4 hours without eating (for some it may be 3 hours and others it may be 5 hours). Do you ever get the mid-afternoon blues or fatigue? That's probably because your blood sugar is low. Most people go much longer between eating lunch and dinner compared to breakfast and lunch. If you don't snack between lunch and dinner, chances are you are STARVING for dinner, in fact, the first thing you may do when you walk in the door in the afternoon, is head straight to the frig/pantry and start inhaling whatever you can get your hands on. You want to be "hungry" for dinner, not "starving or ravenous". If you are starving for dinner, chances are you will probably overeat.


To help beat the afternoon fatigue and the ravenous hunger before dinner, you want to choose a nutrient dense snack. So what is a "nutrient dense" snack? It's a snack that contains a protein and a carbohydrate OR a protein and a healthy fat. The protein or healthy fat will keep you full and delay the absorption of carbohydrate into your blood stream plus the carbohydrate will give you a boost of energy.