Protein Pick-Me-Up: 10 Smart Ways to Get a Midday Boost

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Three o'clock seems to be the time every day when I fall into the dreaded mid-afternoon slump. My energy fades, sometimes my stomach grumbles, and I need a little afternoon pick-me-up to help me power on.

When your mid-afternoon hunger hits, think carefully about what you reach for. And, most importantly, step away from the vending machines! Those snacks might look tempting, but there are better choices. What you need is a protein-filled snack to give you the boost that will carry you through the afternoon.

Pull yourself out of the midday slump with one of these protein-packed snacks!

1. Cottage Cheese: Just a half cup of 2% cottage cheese is packed with protein. If you have a refrigerator handy, this is one smart snack.

2. Roasted Edamame: You may have tried steamed edamame, but have you ever eaten them roasted? Not only is this crispy snack super addicting, it's also ideal for toting to work since it doesn't need to be refrigerated.

3. Greek Yogurt: Whether you go for original or a fruit flavor, Greek yogurt is a great snack to carry you through the afternoon. Want an extra protein boost? Top it with a few almonds or walnuts!

4. Nut Butter: Grab a spoon and dig in, or if you prefer, be a little more dignified by spreading it on some crackers, sliced apples, or celery stalks.

5. Homemade Granola Bars: I love homemade granola bars because you can customize them with all the things you love. For an extra boost, fill your bars with oats, quinoa, nuts, and seeds.

6. Roasted Chickpeas: If you find yourself reaching for something crispy and crunchy, like chips, try changing it up with roasted chickpeas instead. The best part is that you can flavor them with your favorite blend of spices.

7. Hummus: Made largely from chickpeas, hummus is another protein-rich snack. Bonus points for using fresh-cut veggies for dipping!

8. Hard-Boiled Eggs: They're not just for breakfast! When you're in need of a serious pick-me-up, the small yet mighty hard-boiled egg is the protein-filled snack to turn your day around.

9. Lentils: Toss them up in a quick salad and pack them in a Tupperware container to have on-hand when hunger strikes.

10. Homemade Jerky: No, I'm not talking about those overly processed sticks of meat. This stuff is so much better! All you need is meat (beef and turkey work really well), a simple marinade, and time in the oven.

→ Recipe: Homemade Jerky

What are your go-to snacks when you need a mid-afternoon pick-me-up?

Updated from a post originally published May 2012.

(Image credits: Emma Christensen; Leela Cyd)