We know how the body works with food in the office. When we’re tasked with aggressive goals for the new year (Q1), the summer months (Q3), faced with a need to downsize, tighten the belt and trim the fat, or grow in new areas—we’ve evaluated what’s essential and non-essential to the daily operation and our overall vision for the body.
After careful review, we’ve determined that these are the best (and worst) in the business with a number of exceptions mentioned.
Review criteria & biases
Protein-centered foods/products are positive-leaning, fat-centered foods/products are positive-neutral leaning, and carb-centered foods/products are neutral-negative leaning. That said, for the purposes of maintaining a tight ship, high protein, moderate fat, and low carb typically yields the best results.
Invest in these
This is a no-fail. Anyone and everyone that’s even remotely serious should have this stocked up. There’s several products that make a good whey, we simply suggest looking for something with anywhere between 100-140 calories per serving and about 20-25+ grams of protein. Don’t get a meal replacement shake, just get a protein.
We like Gold Standard Naturally Flavored 100% Whey by Optimum Nutrition and Coffee House Protein shakes by Muscle Milk (with caffeine) comes in second. If you want to go plant-based, we like Clean Protein by Vega or single-serve packs of PLNT Protein by The Vitamin Shoppe.
If we had to pick one nut, it’s a close call between almonds and walnuts, but we’re going with pistachios at the moment. The macronutrient breakdown is relatively close to the others, but we like the fact that you can get them shelled. It takes a while to eat them which slows you down and allows your stomach to say, “stop, I’ve had enough” before it’s too late. We like the 100 calorie packs by Wonderful Pistachios for portion controlling purposes and readily availableness. (Smart marketers must pay good money for premium store placements! These things are everything!)
This is a good source of protein, plus a nice dose of active cultures or probiotics to help with digestion and intestinal health. The key here though is to always go with plain versions, most of the flavored products are loaded with added sugars. To bump up the protein content, we like to sprinkle some protein powder into plain non-fat Chobani or FAGE total 0%. Another worthy mention is, MoPro Nutrition’s whey protein-infused Greek yogurt product.
Most jerky is pretty junky and loaded with added sugars. But being protein-based and low-carb, it’s a good player when it comes to weight management. To cut through all clutter of junky jerky, we really like Brooklyn Biltong. It’s 70 calories, has 12 grams of protein and zero carbs. Most leading jerky products have 90-100 calories and 5+ grams of sugar.
In most instances a Tupperware contain of veggies such as celery, bell peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, mushrooms, and zucchini are also a no-fail. They’re high in fiber and low in overall calories. These are a great idea for curbing hunger. However, there is one exception. Starchy vegetables such as carrots, corn, peas, and potatoes should be avoided as they’ve significantly higher in carbohydrates and not necessarily suitable as a snack at the desk. Now, if you like the idea of getting a dose of greens in you without the bulk, we like the Original Superfood Greens by ALOHA.
These got into the game a few years back now and to be honest, they’re not too bad. While they don’t really provide any protein, they are low in overall calories, more specifically carbs and fat. These are another good one to kill off those cravings. The key here to go with the sheets, not the chips or crisps. The sheets are thinner and lighter where the chips and crisps are loaded up. If we’re to pick, we like the SeaSnax Classic Grab and Go Packs or gimMe Seaweed Thins.
While it is a carb-centered food, most companies also provide convenient portion controlling packages. Use of this must be limited. That means only one small bag per work day. We like SkinnyPop’s 100 calorie bags.
Cut these loose
Important Note: while these are being “cut” from the office, that doesn’t mean they don’t potentially serve a purpose in other areas. We attempt to articulate the rationale of our decision whenever it may be the case.
Similarly to the starchy vegetables listed above, fruits and berries are entirely too much sugar for sitting at your desk and doing nothing physical for several hours. Your body just doesn’t need the extra carbohydrates, more specifically, the sugar. Are they “healthy”, yeah, maybe, but you don’t need them at this time. If you want your berries, save it for before or after a workout.
Unless you’ve got an incline treadmill in front of your computer for 4 hours at a clip, trail mix is another unnecessary one. Typically they are loaded with extra carbohydrates from sugars that you don’t need. However, if you want to avoid the fruit and chocolate and pick out the nuts, that’s fine, otherwise, save the trail mix for those vacation days skiing in Vail, surfing in Oahu, mountain biking in Moab, or hiking the Appalachians.
There have definitely been improvements in this space from the days of being protein-loaded candy bars. While they have improved, when it comes to eating in the office in between emails and meetings, most just have too much fat or too much sugar. While we feel bars aren’t suitable deskside snacks, there are a few bars we do like when you’re out and about and heavily active. Those include: Primal Kitchen Collagen Bar, RX Whole Food Protein Bar, and EPIC Chicken Bar.
Beet chips/sweet potato chips/chickpeas
While popcorn and seaweed chips squeaked through the office review, we regret to inform you that some similar products did not.
Over the last couple years that has been a big push for “healthier” chips. They make them out of beets, sweet potatoes, chickpeas, you name it. Sure, they are better than regular ol’ greasy, salty chips, but they still are chips and they still are loaded with nearly the same about of carbs. It’s not a good fit for the desk. Quite arguably, not even worth it when running around OOTO either. However, we are fond of Protein Chips by Quest Nutrition, but because they are primarily made out of protein they wouldn’t necessarily fall in this category.