The Best Foods To Eat If You Want To Stay Full During An 8-Hour Shift

Whether you're working remotely or going to the office, it feels like the temptation to take snack breaks at work is inevitable. Of course, the wrong kind of snacks can leave you feeling bloated and tired — not a great combination when you need to finish those presentation notes before the end of your shift. To prevent your body from crashing, it's important to eat a combination of healthy snacks and meals (per Medline Plus). The first step to ensuring that you eat healthy food during your shift is to plan your meals ahead of time.

Finding recipes that you can freeze for later, or prepare in a crockpot, can be extremely helpful in meal prepping for the whole work week (via That Clean Life). Meal planning is especially important because it ensures that you're already prepared with nutritious, complete meals, so you can avoid having to figure out what you want to eat when lunchtime rolls around. If you struggle to pick out healthy food when you go grocery shopping, keep reading to find out what you should eat to stay full longer during an eight-hour shift to reap the full benefits of this plan.

Eating well-balanced meals is key to staying full

They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and that's especially true if you're working a day shift (per That Clean Life). A solid breakfast can help satiate you up until your lunch break. If you work a night shift, eating a mini-breakfast or snack after your shift can help put you to sleep — things like toast, mixed fruit, or a slice of banana bread will do the trick. Make sure not to go to bed feeling overstuffed, or conversely, on an empty stomach if you're abiding by the mini-breakfast rule. 

Eating your main meal before you start work is key to staying full throughout an eight-hour shift regardless of what time of day you work. Those working a night shift should try eating their largest meal around 5:00 or 6:00 p.m., as eating large amounts of food overnight can upset the stomach. For those working a day shift, try to have a satiating meal before you head out for your commute.

Incorporating a mixture of complex low-glycemic carbohydrates, complete proteins, and good fats will help keep you full longer. According to Women's Health Magazine, eating a teaspoon of almond or peanut butter is a helpful trick to staying satiated for hours.

Black beans and lentils are packed with proteins and fiber, which keep you full for longer as they take longer for your body to digest. Adding black beans to a taco bowl, or incorporating lentil soup into your meal plan, are great ways to create a filling lunch. "Their fiber expands in your gut like a sponge, so it physically makes you feel full as well," Karen Ansel, R.D., told Women's Health Magazine.

Other ways to keep yourself full during work hours

When working a night shift, your body is going against its natural circadian rhythm (via The Other Shift). This can lead to medical issues like insulin resistance because the pancreas, which aids in digestion and regulating blood sugar, doesn't normally function at night. So, it's crucial to avoid sugary snacks and carbohydrate-laden meals during a night shift.

Being a snacker can be a good thing, though. There are plenty of healthy snack options packed with proteins, like veggies with hummus dip, hard-boiled eggs, edamame, and mixed nuts (per That Clean Life). Women's Health recommends adding chia seeds to everything from yogurt to salads for added proteins and omega-3s. Lauren Harris-Pincus, R.D. told Women's Health, "These trendy, nutrient-packed seeds can absorb more than 10 times their weight in water, so they swell in your digestive tract, helping to keep you satisfied."

Speaking of water, you should drink plenty of it. Doing so will keep you hydrated and feeling fuller (via That Clean Life). One beverage you should cut back on is coffee. While a cup or two can keep you alert, overloading on caffeine may interfere with serotonin production, a mood-boosting neurotransmitter for which low levels have been linked to depression. Most importantly, refrain from drinking coffee too late into your shift, as that can cause disruptions to your sleep cycle. Getting enough sleep is vital in regulating your body, from its digestive system to your metabolism — all of which are key to healthy eating.