Foods To Help You Refuel After A Long Shift


By John Murphy

It’s easy to visit the vending machine during a long shift for a quick bag of Doritos or a pick-me-up can of Red Bull. It’s just as tempting to grab a high-calorie juice smoothie after a good workout. But if you really want to step up your game when fueling up, consider these healthier, high-energy options.

Go for complex carbohydrates, if you can. These foods often rank low on the glycemic index—that is, they’re absorbed more slowly into the bloodstream, which can result in a slow and steady energy boost. Although simple carbohydrates will provide a quick kick of energy, such high-glycemic foods can also result in an equally sudden drop in blood glucose levels—a sugar crash—which saps your energy.

Try these treats that are on the lower end of the glycemic index.


A handful of almonds contains a heap of nutrition. A single serving (1 oz) provides 6 g of protein and a variety of nutrients and antioxidants (found in the brown skin), such as vitamin E, manganese, magnesium, copper, riboflavin, and phosphorus. Almonds are low in carbs, high in fiber (making you feel full), and they provide a healthy dose of monosaturated fats. Bonus: chomping down crunchy almonds can blow off some stress.


Although an apple a day won’t really keep the doctor away, it does make for a great snack when you’re on the go. Just one medium-sized apple, with the skin, provides almost 20% of the recommended daily amount of fiber. Apples are on the lower end of the glycemic index and take longer to digest than other fruits, so they provide a more prolonged lift of energy.


Bananas are a good source of energy because they contain some tasty carbs (about 27 g for a medium-sized banana) and about 12% of your recommended daily amount of fiber. They’re also a good source of potassium, an electrolyte that’s important for glycogen processing. Spread on peanut or almond butter for an extra punch of protein.


Beans (legumes) are a great nutrient-rich, low-glycemic food. But beans don’t make for a great snack when you’re in a hurry. Come to think of it, a handful of beans doesn’t make for a great snack even when you’re not in a hurry. But dry roasted chickpeas are the exception. They crunch like peanuts, but they have a fraction of the saturated fat and nearly double the amount of fiber. You can buy dry roasted chickpeas in the supermarket or, better yet, easily make them yourself.


A complete protein contains all the essential amino acids, and eggs are the highest form of complete protein of any food. One large egg contains 6 g of protein and 14 important nutrients, including folate, iron, zinc, choline, and vitamins A, B12, D, and E—all for just 70 calories. Pack a hard-boiled egg for a portable, protein-filled snack.


Despite their delectably sweet taste, oranges are still on the lower end of the glycemic index. Because they’re high in vitamin C, potassium, and folate, oranges are a refreshing and replenishing after-workout food. Eat orange segments from the peeled fruit to benefit from the pectin and fiber in its membranes.


Yogurt has received some bad press recently for having added sugar, but it can still be a healthy, energy-boosting snack to revive your get-up-and-go. A 3.5-oz serving of plain yogurt (Greek or whole milk) has 4 g of sugar, 9 g of protein, and healthy doses of calcium, phosphorus, riboflavin, and vitamin B12. In addition, yogurt contains probiotic bacteria that are believed to improve gut health. Toss in some blueberries for extra flavor, energy, and antioxidants.

Dark chocolate

Last but not least, don’t forget the chocolate. This sweet treat not only supplies energy but can also be a useful source of antioxidants. Believe it or not, chocolate is on the lower end of the glycemic index. Researchers believe that this is because chocolate’s high fat content slows the rate that the stomach releases sugars into the intestine, as well as the speed that the blood then absorbs these sugars. Still, chocolate is a high-calorie food—so consider it a treat rather than a daily snack. Dip chocolate in peanut or almond butter for an extra boost of protein or drop semi-sweet chocolate chips into plain yogurt.


Articles in this issue:


  • Masthead

    Editor-in Chief:
    Kirsten Nicole

    Editorial Staff:
    Kirsten Nicole
    Stan Kenyon
    Robyn Bowman
    Kimberly McNabb
    Lisa Gordon
    Stephanie Robinson

    Kirsten Nicole
    Stan Kenyon
    Liz Di Bernardo
    Cris Lobato
    Elisa Howard
    Susan Cramer

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