A lull in energy in the middle of the day is common. If you don’t refuel your body, your productivity and focus will drop and you will become irritable and moody. However, reaching for any sort of food won’t do. Many popular energy-boosting snack foods are actually terrible for you, and should be avoided. Choose something other than the seven following snacks when you need to raise your energy levels.

  1. Candy bars. Candy bars are invariably rich in sugar, fat, and calories. To make matters worse, the fat in candy bars is saturated fats, which contribute to high cholesterol and heart disease. Meanwhile, a candy bar’s sugar will rot your teeth, and its high calorie total will contribute to weight gain.
  1. Chips. Just about all brands of potato chips are salty, starchy health disasters. Chips are nothing more than slivers of cooked potato coated with fat and chemical flavorings. Besides being high in fat and various unhealthy preservatives, potato chips are virtually devoid of real nutritional value.
  1. Soda pop. Filled with sugar and nasty additives and chemicals, carbonated soda is always bad for you — and yes, this includes diet soda. What diet soda loses in sugar it gains in artificial sweeteners, which are actually no better for you. Studies have shown that soda pop consumption contributes to diabetes, obesity, and even depression.
  1. Energy bars. Sadly, energy bars, despite being advertised as healthy foods, are often little more than candy bars in different packaging. Excessively high in calories, energy bars generally feature large doses of high fructose corn syrup and a variety of unhealthy chemicals. Some energy bars are healthier, but look at the nutrition facts to make sure you know what you’re getting.
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  1. Most crackers. Your typical snack cracker is laden with salt and extremely unhealthy trans fats. Crackers are highly processed foods, filled with unnatural preservatives and additives. Many even have lots of sugar, but little protein or fiber. For a cracker that is okay health-wise look for whole-grain, organic crackers. Inspect nutrition labels closely, since cracker advertising can be deceptive.
  1. Coffee. Okay, coffee can actually give you an energy boost — sort of. Caffeine consumption can promote mental clarity and alertness, which might raise your productivity. However, caffeine doesn’t actually provide your body with energy. If you’re genuinely hungry, coffee won’t help. Plus, the sugar and cream often added to coffee are unhealthy.
  1. Energy drinks. Energy drinks are similar to coffee. High in caffeine and sugar, these products won’t address the real cause of hunger. Energy drinks are also usually filled with sugar and/or unhealthy artificial sweeteners. Plus, while caffeine isn’t bad for you, energy drinks have enormous amounts of the stimulant. Downing an energy drink may leave you feeling jittery, anxious, and queasy for hours.

You’ll notice that all of these foods are convenient, easy-to-eat snacks — which explains their popularity. Luckily, there are plenty of healthier snack foods. Try eating nuts or a piece or two of fruit, among many other good options. Just stay away from the unhealthy snack foods described above.

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