Sustaining Your Energy At Work

On event day (and other busy days) when there are a million things to do, it’s easy to get absorbed in your tasks and forget to take care of yourself.

Not surprisingly, about mid-afternoon—when you’re running on fumes—that vending machine starts to look very enticing.

But so often, these convenient snacks are loaded with sugar and unhealthy fats. They’re tasty, but they don’t really give you the energy you need for the big day (or even for an ordinary day). So what can you do?

Luckily lots of people face the same dilemma and there are plenty of options available. Some people eat three square meals with a small snack in between. Others have found that 5-6 smaller meals to provide more sustaining energy. Experiment with different approaches and see what works best for you.

In any case, healthy snacks that combine protein, fiber and fruits/vegetables will give you the most staying power for the work ahead. Protein, fiber and high quality fats all work to slow down sugar absorption and help you avoid the “crash” that comes with sugary snacks.

Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Nuts & Seeds

  • Trail mix (nuts and dried fruit) – Make your own to keep the sugar and salt at reasonable levels.
  • Almonds, walnuts, pistachios, etc. – These are easy to overeat, so measure out just 1 ounce (a little less than ¼ cup) and keep it in a sandwich bag.
  • Pepitas (pumpkin seeds) – You can toast your own and add the seasonings you like best.
  • Snack bars that are low in sugar (less than 15 g) and high in protein (at least 5 g).
  • Nut butters and fruit, such as peanut butter and apple slices or banana.
  • Nut butters on celery sticks w/dried fruit:
    • Peanut butter and raisins
    • Almond butter and dried cranberries
    • Cashew butter and dried cherries
  • Popcorn (which is a whole grain and full of fiber) – Air-pop your own at home and go easy on the seasonings.


  • String cheese and fruit.
  • Cheese kebobs – Spear cheese cubes and cherry tomatoes on skewers.
  • Cheese slices and apple slices.
  • Cheese cubes and grapes.
  • Cheese and whole grain crackers.


  • Smoothies – Make it ahead and bring it to work in a mason jar. You can also make it with silken tofu.
  • Parfaits – Pack a single-serving Greek yogurt cup and a small bag of granola to sprinkle on top.


  • Roasted chickpeas.
  • Steamed or roasted edamame (soy beans).
  • Hummus (individual serving cup) & carrots, sliced bell pepper or jicama sticks.
  • Soy crisps.

Small Meals

If you find you do better eating smaller meals more frequently, here are a few ideas:

  • Half a turkey sandwich
  • Turkey or chicken wrap
  • Hard-boiled egg and veggies

Inspiration is everywhere… a quick Google search for healthy snack recipes for work will give you over 2 million hits. You could even make spinach corn muffins or no-bake energy bites.

What are your favorite healthy snacks? What approach works best for you in sustaining energy when work gets busy? Share your tips in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you.

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