3 Reasons Your Energy Slumps in the Afternoon.
While everyone is individual in their dietary and lifestyle, certain things remain universal. When I walk a client through a consultation I know one specific question nearly always yields the same answer.
Q. “Do you struggle with your eating habits at any specific points in the day?”
Well, 2-4pm if I’m being really honest. This window of the day where so many people are feeling hungry, craving something sweet, or just feeling tired and drained. Their can be a variety of different reasons for this but today I’m sharing the top three I see most often and how you can fix them.
No1: You’re not eating enough.
If you rise very early for work or tend to skip breakfast regularly you could be missing out on the calories your body needs to keep you feeling energised throughout the day. I tend to see this situation in people who are more active in their job and also get up very early for work. These individuals typically get up at 6.00am or earlier and will be on the go most of the day. Being on the go for extended periods also increases the number of calories you need throughout the day, the more active the more calories you need.
If this sounds like you then consider having a bigger mid-morning snack like a wholemeal chicken bagel or some natural yoghurt with berries and seeds. Make sure you are getting good quality protein to keep you feeling full and avoid large amounts of refined or simple sugars as this will make you feel tired. Also, make sure you are getting enough sleep in general as sleep debt (missed hours in bed) will need to be repaid and you don’t want to get caught napping in your afternoon meeting.
No2: You have Overeaten at Lunch
This is not a carbs are evil type blog but they can play a role in post-lunch slumps. Eating high volumes of refined or simple carbohydrates like white bread, pasta, chocolate or fizzy drinks for example cause a rapid rise in blood glucose or blood sugar levels. When this happens, the pancreas releases the hormone Glucagon to move the glucose out of the bloodstream and into the cells (bear with me here). The side effect of this is that your energy levels slump and you feel groggy and tired. This is more prominent when you haven’t eaten very much protein or healthy fats with your meal. A big bowl of pasta for example will likely lead to this situation along with a chocolate bar based lunch.
A very large lunch will also lead to fatigue as your stomach is only so big and it will need to redivert extra blood supply to digest all that extra food. This means less blood and therefore energy is available to help you power through your afternoon presentation.
If this sounds like you then check your portion sizes and make sure you are taking a good quality home prepared meal for lunch. This helps control portion sizes and avoid refined shop bought options like sandwiches or pasta pots. If you’re eating chocolate and fizzy drinks for lunch then prepare to hit the 3.00pm slump hard.
If you find that by 3.00pm you are heading off to the vending machine, going to chat with work colleges or drifting your way through social media then your slump might not be as food-related as you think.
While feeling tired, sluggish and hungry could be related to the first two points mentioned above it could also be boredom. If you have been at work all day or looking after the children all day and night, then it could just be that you need to get a mental break from your work routine and clear your head. I see so many food diaries where clients comment on having little or no formal breaks, worst still working at their desk.
You need to take a break, plan it in and maybe even go and do some lunchtime exercise if possible. Failing this go for a walk, see your work colleges but plan in a mid-afternoon break to clear your head. If you work from home a 20-minute power nap could also be a legitimate and sensible idea for being more productive.
Just remember if your boredom is leading you to snack more, head to the vending machine or rely on caffeinated products then it’s time to look a little deeper and ask yourself why you are hitting the wall at 3.00pm and what can you adjust in your routine to overcome it.
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