Don't skip the gym or struggle through your workout — doing so can slow your weight loss success. A half-hearted slog on the treadmill or lifting circuit won't lean out your look. But it's only natural for your energy levels to waver after hours at your desk. When you know you have a long day ahead, turn to these healthy snacks and energy-boosting foods that trainers rely on for that get-up-and-go.
Eat This! When…You’re exhausted on the job but have a workout to power through later on
Mid-afternoon slump no more! An egg cooked any way will do the trick, but Instructor and Director of Instructor Recruiting at SLT NYC, Caitlin Krause, loves hard-boiled for an easy grab-and-go snack. "Egg yolks are rich in B-vitamins, which convert food into energy," she explains. They also one of the best high-protein snacks for after a workout, she adds, since "they’re a good source of protein, which is important after a training session when muscle breakdown occurs the most.”
Drink This! When…You’re full but need quick energy
If your sweet tooth comes knocking every day like clock work, this might be the perfect antidote: “Kombucha Tea is a fermented tea that can act as an adaptogen to normalize and balance the body. The vinegary 'kick' of the drink defeats any sugar cravings I have, which I always get when I'm low on energy.,” shares Marcey Rader, M.Ed, the health and wellness Savve Travel Expert for Extended Stay America Hotels and a Certified Personal Trainer and Fitness Nutrition Specialist. But energy boosting isn’t this brew’s only benefit: Rich in probiotics, it helps zap bloat and gets you closer to your ideal flat stomach in just 24 hours.
Eat This! Tip
Track down the tea at local health food stores or online. Rader shares her trick to making the waistline-friendly drink more wallet-friendly: Water it down in a 1:4 ratio and spread it out throughout the day.
Eat This! When…An energy dip hits right after your workout
Quinoa is the kale of the grains aisle: a nutritional overachiever. “A gluten-free grain that is rich in amino acids, and contains more protein than any other rice or grain, it’s a perfect replacement for refined carbohydrates that provides long-lasting energy,” shares Krause. “The grain is high in folate, magnesium, phosphorus and manganese, making it a nutrient-packed source of carbohydrates for long-lasting energy levels,” says Lisa Niren, head coach at Peloton Cycle. And it will keep you going for hours, thanks to its brag-worthy fiber content that prevents blood sugar spikes.
Eat This! Tip
For an interesting riff on traditional breakfasts, Krause adds it to oatmeal. Top the combo with a sprinkle of energy-stabilizing cinnamon to keep your vitality soaring.
Peanut Butter- Chia Bites
Eat This! When…You’re craving something sweet for energy but don’t want a Snickers crash
Be warned: This satisfying snack may just be your gateway drug to even more energy bites. “I love these as a great carry over because they have the perfect balance of carbs, protein and healthy fats as well as a quick burst of energy from honey. They also boast plenty of fiber and omega-3s thanks to chia seeds,” explains Julia Falamas, Director of Programming & Operations at Epic Hybrid Training. “The coconut oil promotes healthy metabolic efficiency and brain function while the honey provides a source of simple sugars that your body can quickly burn up for energy,” Falamas shares. No time to make your own peanut-buttery snack? Exhale’s Executive VP of Mind Body Programming, Elisabeth Halfpapp is always on the go teaching, so you won’t find her without KIND Bars in her bag — especially the Peanut Butter and Dark Chocolate. This flavor has extra protein for lasting energy. Try pairing with an apple or piece of string cheese for a more robust snack.
To make Falamas’ energy bites, combine 1 scoop of protein powder (use your favorite, but make sure there’s no added sweeteners) with 1/2 cup of peanut or almond butter, 2 tablespoons of honey, 1 tablespoon chia seeds and 1 teaspoon of coconut oil. Simply mix all the ingredients together and pop in the freezer until firm.
Eat This! When…A lunchtime nap isn’t an option, and you need sustaining energy
When the going gets tough, the tough get salmon. “I always grab a quick piece of salmon as a snack mid-day (provided I have time to digest it before my next workout) because it’s high in protein and packed with omega-3 fatty acids, which can lower cholesterol and reduce risk of heart disease,” Niren says. Getting these energizing nutrients is especially important if the second half of your daily schedule is packed: “Salmon also contains protein and vitamin B6, niacin and riboflavin, all of which help convert the food you eat into energy,” she explains. If you aren’t a salmon fan, try other fatty fish like mackerel, tuna or anchovies.
If you’re having a hard time thinking of salmon as a snack, try buying canned versions and pairing it with tomato and a couple crackers, just as you might do with tuna.
Eat This! When…You’re on the go and don’t have time to prep a fancy snack or eat a meal
When your slammed schedule is driving you crazy — and draining your energy — it’s time to go nuts. "My go-to energy boost best for traveling is raw nuts. They contain a healthy mix of fat, protein and carbohydrates, which stabilizes serotonin and blood sugar for increased energy. They’re the perfect food to prevent hanger,” says Rader. Take a cue from Krause, who creates her own trail mix with nuts, dried fruit and whole-grain cereal. “I like to make my own so that I know exactly what goes into it, and I can keep out excess sugar. Adding whole-grain cereal is a way to add one of my favorite guilty pleasures, and it's an extra burst of carbohydrates,” says Krause.
Eat This! Tip
For your own fail-proof formula, use our easy guide to creating the perfect trail mix.