Avoid the Afternoon Slump
We’ve all seen the commercials, promising that an energy shot or caffeinated drink will free us of that sluggish “3PM feeling.” But while a jolt of java might make it easier to power through the afternoon, there’s no avoiding a crash later. What if, instead, you avoided that head-on-the-keyboard slump altogether? Turns out, the key may not be in a caffeine-filled drink, but in the foods you eat throughout the day.
A new study from the Penn State College of Medicine found that foods high in fat were associated with daytime sleepiness, while high-carb foods helped subjects stay alert for longer. So does that mean you get free reign to keep a box of Lucky Charms at your desk and go for the lo mein at lunchtime? Not exactly.
Nutritionist and Prevention advisor Ashley Koff, RD, has the scoop on nutrient-balanced meals and snacks that will keep you up and alert throughout the workday—without any spikes or crashes. Follow this meal plan to have energy all day.
7 AM: Wake up to a glass of water with lemon & a probiotic, which sets up the digestive tract for balance throughout the day. Then, for a nutrient-balanced start, Koff suggests, making a smoothie—liquids wake you up even faster than food, since you get the nutrients quickly. Combine protein powder, like Manitoba Harvest Hemp Pro Fiber Protein Powder with 1 cup hemp, coconut, almond or organic milk, 1 tsp raw honey, and ice. For additional fiber and plant nutrients, add fresh organic greens.
10 AM: Need to keep your energy up throughout the morning? Try an antioxidant-rich snack, such as organic greens juice with containing apple and pear with a handful of mixed nuts & seeds. If you need your morning brew, now’s the time to drink it, Koff says. The effect will wear off early enough to stave off insomnia.
1 PM: Get your salad on for lunch. A large green salad with sardines, salmon, or another seafood choice—the fatty acids are essential for balancing energy, Koff says. Carb-loading will keep your energy up for the afternoon, but don’t go for starchy foods that will make you feel sick hours later. Instead, pile some beans on your salad; they provide both carbs and protein, which means your energy burst will last through the afternoon.
3 PM: As for the chocolate craving that happens around this time everyday, your body is on the right track—sort of. Koff suggests a healthier version of the sweet stuff to power through the afternoon slump. “Chocolate gives you a boost without the caffeine—it’s a natural endorphin but it also relaxes your body due to a high magnesium content, which means it keeps your energy in balance,” Koff says. Try vegan chocolate truffles or pudding.
6:30 PM: Need to work tonight, but don’t want to toss and turn at bedtime? Go for a plant-based dinner, like wild plant tacos. Koff suggests including tofu taco crumbles, avocado, Daiya cheeze shreds (you’d never guess they’re dairy-free!), organic salsa, and either optional sprouts and chard or romaine lettuce leaves. “This meal is all about the nutrient balance,” Koff says.
9 PM: If you’re hungry this late, Koff says, it’s because you should be in bed already—hunger signals mean your body would need more energy to stay awake and function. To wind down, she suggests doing some stretches, turn off your mobile devices & electronics, try meditating for a few minutes, and sleep should come more easily.
You’ll be surprised when you DON’T feel like the walking dead on your commute tomorrow!
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