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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