Energy Boosting Snacks To Fight Off The Afternoon Crash

Energy Boosting Snacks To Fight Off The Afternoon Crash

Fight off the mid-day crash with these healthy, energy-boosting snacks -- perfect for boxers!

Published: May 4, 2022

Topics: Nutrition, Wellness

Author: Carolina Schneider, MS, RD

It’s three in the afternoon. You start to doze off while staring at your computer screen, you find yourself scrolling through your phone instead of preparing for your next Zoom call, or you can’t find the strength to punch the boxing bag during your workout. It’s a fact: we have all experienced the dreadful afternoon slump. For boxers and athletes, this slump can feel like a punch to the gut (no pun intended!). They depend on sustained energy levels to endure high-intensity training.

But why is it that we experience this mid-day crash? Here are three (3) nutrition-related reasons why this may be happening to you and my favorite quick recipes to combat them.

3 Reasons Why You Are Hitting A Mid-Day Slump

1. Drop In Blood Sugar

The body has a very intricate and skillful way to ensure your blood sugar (glucose) levels are kept at steady levels, or in homeostasis. When you consume foods, especially carbohydrates, blood sugar increases, and the body releases insulin, the hormone responsible for metabolizing, or breaking down, sugar molecules. Insulin ensures that sugar is delivered to our cells for energy production. However, if you skip meals or go long periods without eating (such as in between meals), your blood sugar levels drop, making you feel fatigued, weak, or even lethargic. For example, people who skip breakfast and eat only two very large meals during the day are likely to experience an energy “crash” in between meals due to a dip in blood sugar. Instead, try eating smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day.

2. Lack of Nutrients

Eating balanced meals is important for boxers to ensure they are meeting nutritional needs and giving the body what it needs to function at its best. As explained in Boxing Nutrition 101, boxers need to consume appropriate amounts of carbohydrates, protein, and fats, as well as micronutrients, such as vitamins and minerals. A low intake of either one of these macronutrients can result in low energy levels, weakness, and inability to concentrate. While eating too many refined carbohydrates (think: baked goods, candy, sugar-sweetened beverages) can disrupt your blood sugar levels and cause you to “crash” and feel tired, eating too much protein or fat, which take longer to digest, can also make you feel tired and sluggish. This is why having the right balance of macronutrients is ideal for sustaining energy levels throughout the day.

3. Low-Calorie Diets

Eating a low-calorie diet, whether purposely or not, can significantly affect energy levels. The basal metabolic rate (BMR) is the amount of calories the body expends at a resting state. This is the minimum amount of energy (remember: calories equals energy) your body needs to simply survive and perform its daily functions. Consuming fewer calories than your body’s BMR causes many processes in the body to slow down (think: metabolism, digestion, energy production, oxygen delivery to the brain and muscle tissues, etc.). Consequently, this may cause you to experience fatigue and weakness. It is also challenging to meet nutritional needs on a low-calorie diet. A lack of vitamins and minerals can negatively impact energy production and well-being.

Nutrients That Assist With Energy Production

The body needs calories to produce energy. More importantly, the body needs carbohydrates, the primary source of energy, but it also needs protein and fats to help regulate blood glucose and prevent drastic spikes or drops in blood sugar levels. Other nutrients that play a role in energy production include vitamin B6, B12, folate, and iron. Regularly fueling the body is a great way to supply constant energy to the body. This is why snacking can be a very effective way to sustain energy throughout the day. However, we are not referring to potato chips and candy, but rather, balanced, nutrient-dense snacks. To create a balanced snack, pair at least two macronutrients, such as a carbohydrate and a protein. This will give you energy without a subsequent crash. Here are the best energy-boosting snacks to help combat that mid-day fatigue.

Mid-Day Energy Boosting Snacks For Fighters

Rice cakes with peanut butter and fruit
  • 2 whole grain rice cakes + 2 tbsp nut butter + 1 cup blueberries (topping) + sprinkle of cinnamon

  • ½ cup Greek or plant-based yogurt + ½ cup mixed berries + 2 tbsp hemp seeds or ¼ cup low-sugar granola

  • Banana roll-up: 1 medium whole wheat wrap + 1 banana + 1 tbsp peanut butter + 2 tbsp sliced almonds

  • 1 slice whole wheat toast + ¼ avocado + 1 hard boiled egg + lemon juice + salt and pepper

  • Veggies with hummus: 1 cup celery sticks, bell peppers, cucumber, or baby carrots + ¼ cup hummus

  • Apple slices with peanut butter: 1 apple + 1 tbsp peanut butter

  • ½ medium baked sweet potato + 1 hard boiled egg

  • 1 cup low-fat cottage cheese + ½ cup mixed fruits + 1 tbsp chia seeds or flax seeds

  • ½ cup roasted chickpeas

  • ½ cup edamame

  • Trail mix: ¼ cup mixed nuts + ¼ cup dried fruits

  • 12 whole grain crackers + ¼ cup canned tuna + ¼ cup hummus

Energy Bites
  • Energy bites: 1 cup old-fashioned oats + 2/3 cup creamy peanut butter + 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips + 1/2 cup ground flax seeds + 2 tbsp maple syrup or honey + 1 tbsp chia seeds + 1 tsp vanilla extract

    • In a large bowl, combine all ingredients; Stir well; Let it cool in the fridge for 15-30 minutes

    • Roll into 12 bite-size balls. Store in the fridge for up to one week

  • Chia pudding: ½ cup nut milk + 2 tbsp chia seeds

    • Pour ingredients into a mason jar or air-tight container and mix well; Ensure there is no clumping

    • Store it in the fridge overnight or for at least three hours

    • Top it with ½ banana, sliced + ¼ cup fresh berries + coconut shreds

  • Overnight oats: ½ cup rolled oats + ½ cup nut milk + ¼ cup yogurt + ½ tsp vanilla extract

    • Pour ingredients into a mason jar or air-tight container and mix well

    • Store it in the fridge overnight or for at least three hours

    • Top it with ½ banana, sliced + ¼ cup fresh berries + 2 tbsp dark chocolate chips

  • Green smoothie: 1 cup milk + 1 frozen banana + 2 cups spinach or kale + 1 scoop protein powder + ¼ avocado

    • Blend all ingredients until smooth

  • Berry smoothie: 1 cup milk + 1/2 frozen banana + 2 cups spinach + ½ cup frozen berries + 1 scoop protein powder

    • Blend all ingredients until smooth

  • Chocolate peanut butter smoothie: 1 cup milk + 1 large frozen banana + 1 tbsp cacao powder + 1 tbsp peanut butter + 1 tsp vanilla extract + sweetener to taste (optional)

    • Blend all ingredients until smooth

Berry Smoothie

Key Takeaways

Incorporating healthy energy-boosting snacks in between meals is a great strategy to sustain energy levels throughout the day and avoid that afternoon crash. Snacks should be balanced and include at least two of the three macronutrients. A helpful habit to incorporate them into your diet is to plan your snacks the same way you plan your meals for the week and always keep snacks on hand. Boxers should keep shelf-stable snacks, such as protein and energy bars, nuts, and whole grain crackers in their gym bags, at the office, in the car to eat on-the-go, and before or after a workout. It’s also important to stock the fridge, both at home and at work, with perishable snacks such as fruits, veggies, and dips so you can always reach for a healthy option in between meals and avoid the dreadful afternoon slump.

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Carolina Schneider, MS, RD is a registered dietitian specializing in plant-based nutrition and wellness. She is passionate about evidence-based nutrition and educating individuals on how to eat well for good health.

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