We’ve all experienced the post-lunch slump, that time when the food sinks in and the rest of the day seems to drag by sluggishly. Sometimes coffee can help, but then you’re wired and unfocused, just waiting for the crash. A couple of simple changes to your diet and eating habits might be a better solution. You’ll feel energized and motivated, ready to take down any challenges passed your way.
Here are a couple of tips for kick starting your day with a full stomach and keeping energy for hours to come.
- Eat Early, Eat Often
One of the largest culprits of afternoon sluggishness is the standard workplace diet. Many of us come to work each morning without eating a full breakfast and are starving by the time lunch rolls around. We then compensate by overloading on calories for lunch and get hit with a terrible food coma for the next couple hours.
This pattern is bad for several reasons. First, you aren’t giving your body the energy it needs in the morning, and you will feel drained and tired — as well as increasingly hungry — until you eat again. Between the pre-food drain and the post-food sluggishness, you kill your productivity and make work harder than it needs to be.
Experts suggest starting your day with protein — eggs are an excellent choice — can wake your mind and give you sustaining energy through lunchtime. While you may not feel hungry when you first wake up, you should try to get something healthy in your stomach, even if it’s not a full meal.
But what happens if you don’t eat a full breakfast and the hunger starts to sink in a few hours before lunch? It is also suggested snacking on healthy treats — fruit, nuts, etc. — is preferable to fasting before lunch. That way, when lunch does roll around, you won’t be starved and excited to dig in. Your portions will be smaller, and the coma won’t hit you as hard in the following hours.
- Eat Leftovers to Avoid Fast Food
When choosing what you want to eat for the day, a straightforward formula should factor into your planning. While not everyone can cook a fresh meal before and after work, you usually have time for one or the other. When planning your food for the week, you can save a lot of money by cooking for leftovers. Prepare more than the necessary food for a meal, giving yourself a healthy lunch at work.
Preparing leftovers may seem inconvenient, especially when compared to the ease of hitting a drive-thru. But don’t sneeze at the long-term benefits. Home-cooked meals are almost universally healthier than fast food — especially when you put in the effort of cooking something nutritious. Leftovers also improve your daily energy and cost less.
If you are interested in cooking for leftovers, make sure you pick something with a decent amount of protein as well as green vegetables. Don’t overdo it with carbs — potatoes, rice, pasta and bread — or you’ll be fighting sleep the rest of the day.
- Hydrate All Day Long
In an office environment, it is very easy to forget to drink water. This, coupled with loads of research indicating dehydration as a leading factor in low energy and sluggishness, means you would probably benefit from drinking more water.
The average person should drink between half a gallon and three quarts each day, depending on weight, exercise habits and diet. This amount of liquid should take a conscious effort on your part.
If water is too boring for you all the time, choose some alternate drinks wisely. Those high in caffeine are often diuretics and will run through your system quickly without necessarily providing full hydration. Drinks high in sugar can dehydrate you further and should accompany water.
Energized and Ready to Go
Now that you’re brimming with energy, you can stay motivated and driven throughout your workday. Just remember: a balanced diet can go a long way in all aspects of your life. Expect to feel healthier, more alert and less exhausted by the end of the day.