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Snacks for an energetic workday

Unhealthy pick-me-ups like energy drinks and sugary snacks are usually followed by slow-me-downs. But snacking can actually enhance productivity in the office.

“It helps keep your energy up throughout the day [and] increases brain power,” says Melissa Halas-Liang, a registered dietitian and spokeswoman for the California Dietetic Association.

The two key factors in healthy snacking are timing and size, says Karen Ansel, a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association.

“The ideal time for a snack is about three hours after a meal,” she says. “That’s when blood sugar levels start to dip and hunger hits.” She adds that an ideal snack will be somewhere between 100 and 200 calories.

Halas-Liang and Ansel both share their top workday snacks:

• Nectarine slices and 10 to 20 almonds

It’s important to choose foods that are close to their natural state when snacking, and carbohydrate-protein combos are a plus.

• A 12-ounce nonfat latte and a 100-calorie energy bar

The complex carbohydrates in this snack are what make for a healthy pick-me-up.

• A pear and 1 ounce of cheese

“The pear is especially high in fiber which helps slow down digestion,” Ansel says. “The cheese adds protein and a little fat to help keep you full.”

• Half-pound of sugar snap peas and hummus

People who eat legumes such as peas and beans regularly tend to live longer, Halas-Liang points out.

• Reduced-fat gouda cheese and whole wheat bagel

Good snacks are nutrient dense, Halas-Liang says.

Look for grains and oats labeled as 100-percent whole wheat.

• 1 Tbsp peanut or almond butter on cinnamon graham crackers

Ansel recommends this snack as a sweet treat in the late afternoon. “The nut butter has both healthy fat, protein and fiber which are digested super slowly so they keep you full for hours,” she says. The cinnamon grahams add complex carbohydrates.

– CTW Features