An afternoon snack is meant to satisfy your hunger with food that gives you energy, but does not ruin your appetite for dinner.
Afternoon snacks are not just for kids!
Contrary to what many people think, after-school snacks are not just for children. It is totally reasonable for adults to have a snack in the afternoon, too. In the morning, the time from breakfast to lunch is usually just four or five hours, so it is normal not to need to eat between those two meals.
However, in the afternoon, the gap between lunch and dinner is much longer because some of us dine at 7 or 8 pm. Thus, it is perfectly normal to have hunger pangs and to want a bit more energy to hold out until dinner. If you can easily wait until dinner without flagging energy or feelings of hunger, you do not need an afternoon snack.
But if you need a quick bite in the late afternoon to recharge your battery, you should have something! It is much healthier to have a snack and a balanced dinner than to skip the afternoon snack and make up for it later at dinner. The goal of the afternoon snack is to avoid going home at the end of the day tired and starving, on the hunt for a meal to scarf down.
At what time should you have your snack?
Ideally, you should wait three to four hours after lunch. If you finish your lunch around 1 pm, you can have a snack around 4 pm. Then you will be able to last until the end of the day.
The perfect snack
Here are our recommendations for a healthy snack that will give you energy. The snack suggested here is also very well suited to children.
1 to 2.5 oz nuts (preferably walnuts and almonds)
This combination provides omega-3 and magnesium, which are frequently lacking in our diets. Just one ounce of these two kinds of nuts covers nearly 80% of our needs in omega-3 and 15% of our magnesium allowance. You can also replace the almonds with Brazil nuts or cashew nuts. But if you don’t care for them, stick with walnuts because they really are perfect. Nuts are low in sugar, but packed with fiber and healthy fats, so they keep you feeling satisfied longer. That will help you manage your weight better and eat more mindfully.
Avoid ready-made mixed nuts in pouches because they often have roasted nuts, which are less valuable in nutrition terms. Make your own mix with raw nuts.
2 squares of dark chocolate OR 1 serving of fruit
Dark chocolate (organic and at least 70% cacao) is low in sugar, which stimulates the production of serotonin, a neuromediator that fosters feelings of calm and wellness. This choice will help you be zen and gently prepare you for sleep without lowering your energy level.
Fruit, which is naturally rich in fiber, promotes the steady release of energy.
1 green or white tea
Tea, and especially green tea, contains extremely powerful antioxidants. You should choose organic to prevent pesticide contamination and buy bulk leaf tea rather than tea bags. To maximize the release of antioxidants, it is recommended that you steep your tea for at least five minutes.
Avoid drinking fruit juice with your afternoon snack because it contains a lot of sugar. Fruit juice also lacks fiber, so your body absorbs the sugar really fast.
Optional: 1 small serving of good carbs
If you are still hungry, you can supplement this snack with a small serving of good carbs. Go for oatmeal or whole-grain sourdough bread, for example. Still, carbohydrates are not the ideal solution for a snack.
What is the best snack for athletes?
Athletes are advised to have a snack before a work-out so they get the energy they need. However, there is no need to eat a heartier snack than usual!
You can have one ounce of nuts with an easy-to-digest fruit (ripe banana, fruit compote, ripe fruit) so that your body does not have to devote a lot of effort to digestion. You can add one or two pieces of dried fruit if you need them.
Eat your snack at least one hour before your activity so that your body is not digesting while you exercise.
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