The Only 5 Snacks You Need to Eat for Better Energy and Focus

Are you constantly grappling with afternoon slumps and finding it difficult to stay focused throughout the day? 

The solution to sustaining energy and mental clarity could be hiding right in your snacks!

As a nutrition coach, I’ve seen firsthand how choosing the right snack can transform your energy levels and cognitive function. 

In this article, you’ll uncover the four essential criteria for picking brain-boosting snacks, along with five nutrient-packed options that will help you glide through your day with ease.

Ready to wave goodbye to brain fog and welcome a more energized, focused you?

How To Choose a Healthy Snack for Energy and Focus: 4 Key Criteria

1. Protein: The Building Block of Your Brain

Protein is crucial for constructing and repairing brain cells and neurotransmitters, which are the chemical messengers responsible for regulating mood, memory, and cognition. 

Without sufficient protein, your brain can’t function at its peak. Moreover, protein helps stabilize blood sugar levels, warding off distracting hunger pangs.

When selecting a snack, aim for about 5-15 grams of protein. This range should offer enough protein to maintain blood sugar levels and bolster brain health.

2. Fat: The Fuel for Your Brain

Did you know your brain is composed of approximately 60% fat? That’s right! 

Fat is a primary energy source for your brain, so it’s vital to choose snacks rich in healthy fats. 

Fat also plays a pivotal role in absorbing fat-soluble vitamins and antioxidants that shield your brain from oxidative stress and inflammation. 

Prolonged inflammation can trigger the release of chemicals that damage brain cells and disrupt their connections, impairing cognitive function and inducing mental fatigue.

Aim for roughly 5-10 grams of healthy fats in your snack to provide a steady energy source for your brain.

3. Fiber: The Gut’s Best Friend

Fiber may not be the first thing that springs to mind when you think of brain food, but it plays a key role in keeping you full and satisfied by slowing down digestion and adding bulk to your stool. This helps prevent overeating and keeps your energy levels steady.

Moreover, fiber feeds the beneficial bacteria in your gut

Research has shown that the gut microbiome – the trillions of microorganisms living in your gut – plays a significant role in brain health. 

These friendly bacteria produce various neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine, which directly influence your mood, focus, and cognitive function.

Aim for around 3-8 grams of fiber per snack to keep you full and support gut health.

4. Complex Carbs: The Mood and Energy Elevator

Finally, let’s discuss complex carbs – the unsung heroes of brain food. 

These nutrient powerhouses supply glucose, the primary fuel for your brain and muscles

By choosing snacks with complex carbs, you’re providing your body and brain the energy they need to stay sharp and focused.

But there’s more – complex carbs also help to elevate serotonin levels, which regulate your mood and appetite. 

Aim for about 15-30 grams of complex carbs in your snack to fuel your brain and muscles while promoting stable serotonin levels.

With these four criteria in mind, you’re ready to conquer the world one snack at a time! So, buckle up and dive into a world of delicious, energy-boosting, and focus-enhancing snacks that will transform your day for the better.

5 Snacks For Better Energy & Focus

1. Fruit and Nuts (or Seeds)

Fruit and Nuts (or Seeds)
Snack CriteriaDescriptionMeets Target
ProteinNuts and seeds provide around 4-7 grams per ounceX
FatHealthy fats from nuts and seeds range from 12-20 grams per ounce
FiberA serving of fruit and nuts/seeds offers around 3-6 grams
Complex CarbsFruit provides around 15-20 grams of carbs per serving

Fruit and nuts or seeds make for an excellent snack choice for increased energy and focus. 

The natural sugars in fruit provide a quick energy boost, while antioxidants protect the brain from oxidative stress. 

Nuts and seeds are rich in protein and healthy fats, contributing to fullness and supplying essential brain-supporting nutrients. 

Some delicious combinations to try include a sliced apple with almond butter, raspberries with sunflower seed butter, and orange slices with pistachios.

My favorite fruit and nut recipes: Fruit and Nut Chewy Bars, Fruit-and-Nut Trail Mix

2. Greek Yogurt with Berries

Greek Yogurt with Berries
Snack CriteriaDescriptionMeets Target
ProteinGreek yogurt offers around 15-20 grams per 6-ounce serving
FatFat content in yogurt ranges from 0-8 grams per serving, depending on the typeX
FiberBerries provide about 3-4 grams of fiber per half-cup serving
Complex CarbsGreek yogurt and berries combined offer approximately 15-25 grams of carbs

Plain Greek yogurt paired with berries is a tasty snack that supports brain health. 

Greek yogurt provides protein and calcium, while berries are rich in fiber, flavonoids, and anthocyanins that protect brain cells and improve memory. 

Try mixing yogurt with raspberries, mango, and toasted coconut flakes or combining sliced strawberries with fresh basil leaves and a pinch of black pepper.

My favorite yogurt and berry recipes: Greek Yogurt & Fresh Berries, Greek Yogurt Berry Parfaits, Greek Yogurt Bark with Berries

3. Hard-Boiled Eggs and Cherry Tomatoes

Hard-Boiled Eggs and Cherry Tomatoes
Snack CriteriaDescriptionMeets Target
ProteinOne large hard-boiled egg provides around 6 grams
FatA large hard-boiled egg contains about 5 grams of fat
FiberCherry tomatoes offer around 1-2 grams of fiber per half-cup servingX
Complex CarbsThis snack contains approximately 5-10 grams of carbs from both eggs and cherry tomatoes

Hard-boiled eggs and cherry tomatoes are a convenient snack that boosts brain health and energy. 

Eggs contain protein and choline, which support cognitive performance, while cherry tomatoes are packed with vitamin C and lycopene, which help prevent oxidative stress. 

Season them with herbs and spices such as salt and pepper, smoked paprika, or fresh basil leaves.

My favorite egg and tomato recipes: Boiled Egg and Fresh Cherry Tomatoes, Hard Boiled Eggs in Spicy Tomato Sauce, Clean Eating Egg & Tomato Salad

4. Dark Chocolate

Dark Chocolate
Snack CriteriaDescriptionMeets Target
ProteinDark chocolate provides around 2 grams of protein per 1-ounce serving (70% cocoa content)X
FatDark chocolate contains about 12 grams of fat per 1-ounce serving (70% cocoa content)
FiberDark chocolate offers approximately 3 grams of fiber per 1-ounce serving (70% cocoa content)
Complex CarbsOne ounce of dark chocolate contains around 15 grams of carbs

Dark chocolate is a delicious brain-boosting snack that improves energy and focus. 

It’s rich in flavonoids, which stimulate brain activity and contains caffeine to boost mood and concentration. 

Magnesium and iron in dark chocolate maintain a healthy nervous system and prevent fatigue. 

Pair dark chocolate with nuts, dried fruits, or aged cheese for a satisfying and nutritious snack.

5. Oatmeal with Peanut Butter and Banana

Oatmeal with Peanut Butter and Banana
Snack CriteriaDescriptionMeets Target
ProteinA serving of oatmeal with peanut butter and banana offers around 10-15 grams
FatThis snack provides approximately 12-15 grams of healthy fats from the peanut butter
FiberOatmeal, peanut butter, and banana combined deliver around 7-10 grams of fiber
Complex CarbsA serving of oatmeal with peanut butter and banana contains about 50-60 grams of complex carbs

A bowl of oatmeal with peanut butter and banana is a nutrient-dense snack that supports brain health, energy, and focus. 

Oatmeal provides complex carbs and soluble fiber for stable blood sugar levels, while peanut butter offers protein and healthy fats for fullness

Bananas boost potassium levels and elevate mood

Prepare oatmeal with your choice of oats and liquid, cook, and stir in peanut butter and sliced banana. Customize your bowl with optional toppings like cinnamon or chia seeds.

My favorite oatmeal with peanut butter and banana recipes: Peanut Butter Banana Baked Oatmeal, 4-Ingredient Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal Cookies

3 Bonus Tips for Improved Energy & Focus

1. Hydration

Water is crucial for maintaining energy and focus, as our brains depend on it for optimal function and metabolism. Dehydration can negatively impact cognitive performance, mood, and memory. 

  • Drink water before and after meals.
  • Opt for herbal teas or low-sugar sports drinks.
  • Aim to drink half your body weight (in pounds) in ounces of water per day.

2. Snack Timing

Eating at regular intervals helps maintain stable blood sugar levels, preventing energy dips and cravings. Eating too close to bedtime can interfere with sleep quality. 

  • Eat every 3-4 hours during the day.
  • Avoid snacking after dinner.
  • Have a light snack about 30 minutes before a workout.

3. Variety

A varied diet provides a range of nutrients and antioxidants that support brain health and function. Variety also prevents boredom and monotony, which can impact motivation and mood. 

  • Include a mix of protein, fat, fiber, and complex carbs in your meals and snacks.
  • Experiment with new fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and protein sources.
  • Get creative with spices, herbs, and condiments to add flavor and variety to your meals.

References

EatingWell. (n.d.). The Best Snacks to Eat for Energy, According to a Dietitian. Retrieved from https://www.eatingwell.com/article/7870299/best-snacks-to-eat-for-energy-dietitian/

SnackNation. (2023). 14 Healthy Study Snacks To Keep You Focused In 2023. Retrieved from https://snacknation.com/blog/healthy-study-snacks/

EatingWell. (n.d.). The Best Snack to Eat For an Energy Boost. Retrieved from https://www.eatingwell.com/article/8021021/best-snack-for-energy-boost/

Healthline. (n.d.). 19 Healthy and Energizing Snacks. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/healthy-energizing-snacks

Harvard Health. (n.d.). 7 ways to snack smarter. Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/7-ways-to-snack-smarter

Bailey, C. (n.d.). 9 brain foods that will improve your focus and concentration. Retrieved from https://chrisbailey.com/9-brain-foods-that-will-boost-your-ability-to-focus/

Everyday Health. (n.d.). 10 Healthy Foods That Boost Energy. Retrieved from https://www.everydayhealth.com/fitness-pictures/energy-boosting-foods.aspx


About The Author

Avi Silverberg
AVI SILVERBERG

Avi Silverberg is an author, coach, and the Founder of FeastGood.com. Avi has a Master of Science in Exercise Science and has published over 400 articles on the topics of health, exercise, and nutrition.