If you’ve ever experienced that low, persistent growl in your stomach around 10 a.m., you know one thing to be true: Mid-morning hunger is real. Assuming you ate breakfast, you probably look at the clock when this happens and think to yourself, Lunchtime is two hours away. What am I going to do?
There’s a lot you can do. But first, let’s examine why that mid-morning snack attack happens in the first place.
“Our brains and bodies typically run through energy quickly in the mornings when efficiency and creativity are at their peak,” explained registered dietitian Tracy Lockwood Beckerman. “This productivity burst can leave you feeling depleted and wanting to run to the kitchen for an early lunch.”
It’s also possible that you’re not eating big enough breakfasts, Beckerman added. “Once your body digests and metabolizes that measly or unbalanced breakfast, hunger hormones like ghrelin come knocking at your door earlier than expected.”
If you want to stave off those mid-morning hunger pangs, you can start by eating bigger, more balanced breakfasts, packed with healthy fat, protein and complex carbs. But if you have a hard time working up an appetite in the morning or find that you get hungry no matter what, here’s what you should eat.
Banana topped with nut butter
If you’re still working from home, this is an easy mid-morning option. “You always want snacks to include a protein or a healthy fat source, not just a carbohydrate. This makes for better blood sugar stabilization and increased fullness to hold you over until lunch,” explained registered dietitian Abby Vichill. “Bananas have carbs, and nut butter has fat and protein.”
Dark chocolate and nuts
Who can say no to 10 a.m. chocolate? Beckerman says that combining dark chocolate with almonds, peanuts or even pumpkin seeds can help keep your blood sugar stable while keeping you focused and productive. As a nice bonus, dark chocolate has a little bit of caffeine in it.
A protein bar (but not just any protein bar)
There are tons of protein bar options out there that are aimed toward keeping you full and energized. Plus, they’re a great option if you’re back in an office and want something quick and easy. Beckerman suggests R.E.D.D. bars, which are made with real ingredients like hemp, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds and quinoa.
“These bars are also low in sugar and high in protein and real fiber, so they will fill you up and give you a sustainable energy boost before lunchtime hunger strikes,” she said. With the Food and Drug Administration recommending that we not eat more than 50 grams of added sugar per day, it’s best to look for protein bars that are on the lower end of added sugar — around 10 grams or less.
An easy snack to grab whether you’re working from home or in an office, walnuts do more than just stabilize blood sugar and keep you full until lunch, Beckerman says. “According to research, eating walnuts may also improve memory and concentration in adults,” she said. “So if you’re planning to continue your work grind, some crunchy and satisfying walnuts can help optimize your productivity.”
Of course, snacking on other nuts is a good option, too — almonds and pistachios will similarly stabilize your blood sugar. But if you want the brain and concentration benefits, walnuts may be the way to go.
Beef jerky with sliced veggies and hummus
This is an easy, nutritious snack for anyone working from home, according to Vichill. And while she suggests opting for grass-fed beef jerky, if you can’t find it or it’s out of your price range, regular jerky will work fine. “Jerky is packed with protein, and veggies [like carrots or bell peppers] and hummus have fiber and carbs.”
While fruit chips don’t exactly pack the protein, Beckerman said they can make a great mid-morning snack for a few reasons, especially if you’re in an office and need something quick and easy.
“Rind’s thin-cut fruit chips are a nutritious and zero-waste snack that won’t spoil your appetite for lunch,” she said. “Their fruit chips are made from the fruit’s rind and peel so they are naturally packed with nutrients like vitamin C and potassium so you’ll feel good about boosting your immune system while satisfying your crispy cravings. Plus, unlike fresh fruit, these dried fruits won’t brown or bruise on your way to the office, which is always a bonus.”
While this might not be the best snack to bring to the office if you want to stay on good terms with your co-workers, if you’re working from home, this is a healthy, nutrient-filled snack that will keep you full until lunch. “Eggs have fat and protein,” Vichill said.
Chia seed pudding
Chia seed pudding is prepared in advance, so it can be an easy snack whether you’re working from home or in an office. “Chia seed pudding packs the protein, fat and carbs,” Vichill explained, noting that chia seeds have 4.7 grams of protein per ounce.
When it comes to the perfect mid-morning snack, a little preparation goes a long way. By keeping these snacks on hand, you won’t just stay full until lunch — you’ll be more productive, too.