Its 3pm. You still have at least 2 more hours of work before even thinking about dinner, but you just ate lunch a few hours ago. Your stomach is rumbling. You wander around the office and see leftover birthday cake, maybe a half a cup of coffee left in the pot, but turn the corner and see the vending machine. This might be your best bet or only choice in some cases. In a perfect scenario, you would have had a balance lunch with a fair amount of protein to hold you over, or perhaps packed a healthy balanced snack in advance, but if you find yourself going to a vending machine, keep these tips in mind.

Look for something protein based. Proteins take a little more time and work to break down in your body so they aren’t used for immediate energy like carbohydrates. This can keep you fuller for longer with less calories. Though high in salt, beef jerky or mixed nuts can make a great protein-based satisfying snack.

Choose the baked option when looking for a crunch. Whether its baked chips or baked cheese curls, the baked option will typically be a lower calorie choice than the traditional fried option.

Fill up on whole grains. These options should contain more fiber than their refined grain counterparts. A good choice might be popcorn, which is considered a whole grain. Be sure to try to find some that isn’t loaded with cheese or butter. Other good choices would include Triscuit whole grain crackers or Wheat Thins.

Avoid the sweets and candies. This means the skittles, chocolate bars, cakes and cookies. These foods are typically high in refined sugars, carbohydrates and even trans fats. These choices might taste good and boost your energy for a little bit, but leave you crashing hard and feeling hungry again soon. Look for a granola bar made with whole grains that might include a little chocolate to satisfy your sweet tooth.

Pair a protein with a carbohydrate for the best balanced snack. This combination will keep you satisfied and energized for longer. This may vary depending on your options, but try to choose the nuts with some dried fruit or low-fat cheese with whole grain Triscuit crackers, as an example.

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