Do your eyelids feel like concrete every day at 3pm? You’d do anything for a fifteen minute nap without your boss catching you. There is an easier way to make it through the afternoon slump. As a matter of fact, there are some steps you can take to avoid it all together (bear in mind that you’ll also need to get 6-8 hours of sleep each night). Adequate nutrition in the right combinations at the right times can do wonders for your energy levels. Here are some tips to avoid that afternoon slump and boost energy.
1. Don’t skip breakfast or lunch
Let’s pretend that the last meal you ate was dinner the night before. You jump out of bed, rush to work, power through lunch and come to a screeching halt at 3pm. You need to give your body fuel in order to run properly. You wouldn’t drive your car on empty all day and expect it to win a drag race. Food equals energy. Eat breakfast even if it’s only a whole grain bagel with almond butter (the protein in the almond butter is a good way to provide steady energy for the body) or a cup of trail mix.
You need something in the morning to give you the nutrients and energy until lunch time. Also, don’t wait until you’re starving and grumpy to have lunch; a good rule of thumb is to eat every three hours. This is an excellent way to avoid an energy slump around 3 or 4 pm. Feeling tired, irritable and unfocused means your blood sugar has dropped–a sign that you’ve waited too long to eat.
2. Eat protein throughout the day
Eat small portions of protein during the day because protein provides a longer lasting energy than carbohydrates. If you keep your energy balanced, you avoid the highs and the inevitable lows. You can combine carbohydrates with various forms of protein. There are plenty of vegetarian sources of protein, so you can alternate these with animal protein for variety. For instance, you can have nuts and seeds, cheese or hummus and crackers as snacks. For your meals you can choose chicken or fish, but try to vary this during the week to include some vegetarian lunches. When you expand your food choices, your body will benefit from the wider variety of nutrients.
3. Avoid simple carbohydrates
Avoid eating a sugary breakfast, such as cereal with added sugar and flavors. This will spike your blood sugar and what goes up must come down. To avoid this, eat complex carbohydrates like oatmeal; whole grain crackers/breads, pastas and brown rice are good choices for lunch as they provide a slow burning energy. Stay away from simple carbohydrates, such as white rice, white bread and regular pasta (not to mention cookies, cakes or candy). Simple carbohydrates digest quickly as short bursts of energy; once the energy is used up your blood sugar dips and so does your energy.
These simple steps will provide you with consistent, balanced energy and the difference between gliding and crawling through your day.
Image via Tuan Le