What is it about the late afternoon hours? Why do we sometimes feel like we’re actually in a fog — head in the clouds, unable to concentrate, and maybe borderline hangry? To combat this feeling, some of us may reach for sugary or heavily caffeinated snacks to give us a boost — which can give a very temporary fix followed by a sugar or caffeine crash.
You are better off limiting your super-sugary gummies and extra-grande latte and sticking with more balanced and cognitive-boosting choices when you are choosing the best snacks for brain fog. Ahead, you’ll learn how to pick the optimal mid-day nosh to help keep your brain crystal clear and your fog a thing of the past.
What is Brain Fog?
While brain fog is not a medical condition or diagnosis, feelings of confusion, a noticeable energy dip, being distracted, or an inability to concentrate can be overwhelming. During the global pandemic, more people may have noticed this cluster of symptoms because of the heightened anxiety. Also, life slowed way down, and for the first time, we may have connected with fluctuations in energy and moods.
Being unable to concentrate intermittently because you didn’t sleep well doesn’t classify as brain fog — you would need to experience the cluster of symptoms over several weeks. If you start to feel this way, monitor your symptoms and follow up with your healthcare provider if they worsen — the symptoms could be a sign of an underlying health issue that may need attention.
Can Certain Foods & Habits Affect Brain Fog?
Let’s talk about some of your current habits. First, how is your sleep? Are you falling asleep and staying asleep? Are you struggling to wind down and can’t seem to doze off? How many hours are you sleeping soundly per night?
Stress and activity also impact how we feel. What is your overall stress level, and has it changed? How do you manage stress, and can you pinpoint the triggers? And how long are you sitting each day — are you on Zoom calls back to back or running around?
Now, let’s take a look at food and hydration.
Are you well hydrated? For most people, 64-100 oz should cover you. In the summer months, you will need extra water, especially if you live in a warm and humid climate.
In addition to water — what else do you drink? Do you drink soda, iced teas, sugary, or energy drinks? And then there is coffee. How many cups on average per day? It is common to want to reach for a caffeinated beverage to get that quick boost. Be mindful of the potential caffeine cycle and avoid relying on it to increase energy and productivity. Another potential pitfall is that you may end up needing more and more to get the same lift. Instead, keep an eye on your habit and fight the urge by swapping out the afternoon coffee break with a glass of bubbly water or decaffeinated iced green tea.
Sugar, like caffeine, can be a quick and easy fix for the afternoon slumps — and these sweet treats are readily available in vending machines, coffee shops, and convenience stores. Getting into the sugar cycle is similar to getting hooked on the caffeine cycle. A better plan is to opt for a more nutrient-packed afternoon snack that will keep your energy sustained throughout the day.
The Best Snacks to Beat Afternoon Brain Fog
When the 3 PM slump hits, understandably, it is super-convenient to make a visit to the vending machine and snag something that gives you a boost but isn’t the healthiest choice for you. Instead, a little pre-planning can help you combat brain fog in a very simple way.
Generally speaking, finding snacks with a mix of lean protein, heart-healthy fat, and fiber will help decrease cravings, stabilize blood sugar and keep your metabolism humming all day.
Plus, choosing foods that have potential cognitive benefits can help keep your brain in tip-top shape.
Some simple and delicious snack ideas that marry these concepts include:
- Roasted chickpeas sprinkled with sea salt
- Peanut butter and banana sandwich on whole grain bread
- A handful of nuts and a piece of fresh fruit with sliced cheese
- Whole grain crackers, cottage cheese, blueberries, and walnuts
- Dried mango slices and a piece of string cheese
Craving something a little more savory? Try one of these delicious snack options:
- Avocado toast
- A hard-boiled egg dipped in sesame seeds
- Nori seaweed sheets topped with avocado slices
And along with your snack, having a glass of water to help combat dehydration can help your noggin feel its best too. And if you need something cozy, a cup of herbal tea can help you continue the ritual of drinking something warm if you are a coffee drinker.
Healthy Afternoon Snack Recipes
Need some recipe inspiration? Here are easy and delicious recipes from FitOn PRO that will help keep your blood sugar balanced and your energy levels stable so you can keep that afternoon fog at bay.
2-Step Apple Pie Nourishment Bowls
These guilt-free Apple Pie Bowls make a filling snack that will surely satisfy your sweet tooth. Balanced with the perfect ratio of protein and healthy fats, it’s an easy-prep snack that will nourish your belly and support your brain.
- 2 cups Greek yogurt
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 apple, cubed
- ½ apple, thinly sliced
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 2 tbsp pecans, chopped
- 1 tbsp ground flaxseed
- honey, to drizzle
Step #1: Add the yogurt to two serving bowls and stir in the vanilla extract.
Step #2: Add the cubed apple and stir to combine.
Step #3: Top with the sliced apple, cinnamon, pecans, flaxseeds, and a drizzle of raw honey.
Peanut Butter Banana Green Smoothie
Made with protein-rich Greek yogurt, creamy peanut butter, and fiber-filled flax, this satiating and balanced PB, Banana & Green Smoothie will keep you full and energized. Full of healthy fats and sneaky greens, this is the perfect snack when you want to support cognitive health and give your brain a boost.
- 2 tbsp peanut butter
- ¼ cup water
- 1½ cups unsweetened almond milk
- 1 cup Greek yogurt
- 1 tbsp ground flaxseed
- 2 bananas, sliced
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup baby spinach
Step #1: Add everything to the blender. Blend until smooth
4-Ingredient Avocado Baked Eggs
When your savory tooth hits, these 4-ingredient Avocado Baked Eggs are calling your name! It comes together in less than 15 minutes and requires just four simple ingredients. The combo of eggs + avocado will supply you with all the brain food, thanks to the rich amounts of healthy fats and protein.
- 2 eggs
- 1 avocado
- ⅛ tsp crushed red pepper
- sea salt & black pepper, to taste
Step #1: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Step #2: Cut the avocado in half and remove the pit. Scoop out 1-2 spoonfuls of avocado to create a bigger whole. You need the whole egg to fit inside. Keep that avocado, you can serve it on the side.
Step #3: Place the avocado in a baking dish. Season with salt and pepper. Carefully break the egg into the avocado, and then season with a bit more salt and pepper as well as the red pepper flakes.
Step #4: Bake for 12-14 minutes until egg whites are set, but yolks are still runny. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly. Add all your favorite toppings and enjoy!
Easy Blender Protein Banana Bread
It doesn’t get any easier than this blender banana bread! Made with almond flour, protein powder, and a hint of natural sweetener, it’s the perfect sweet and healthy snack to balance your blood sugar. Prep it earlier in the week and enjoy a slice whenever you need a snack.
- 1 cup almond flour
- 1 scoop vanilla protein powder
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 pinch sea salt
- 2 eggs
- 2 tbsp almond butter
- 3 tbsp maple syrup
- 1 banana, ripe
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tbsp coconut oil, to grease
- Almond butter, to serve
Step #1: Preheat the oven to 160°C or 320°F and lightly grease a loaf pan with coconut oil.
Step #2: Add all of the ingredients to a food processor and blend until smooth.
Step #3: Pour or spoon the mixture into the loaf pan. Bake for 25 minutes, or until the banana bread is cooked through and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Step #4: Allow to cool. Slice and enjoy with a slab of almond butter or any additional toppings of choice.
Combat Brain Fog With The Right Snacks And A Proactive Approach
Experiencing brain fog is not your destiny. With a few small changes, you can beat the brain “fuzzies” and keep hunger and energy levels steady throughout the day. Focusing on hydration, activity, time spent sitting, and making a point to have a nutrient-packed snack that is balanced and satisfying will help you thrive all day.
Want more delicious recipes? Join FitOn PRO for access to personalized meal plans and exclusive recipes to reach your fitness goals faster without counting calories and with foods you’ll love to eat.