It's 2:59 P.M. and you're nodding off at the office. You're not alone. Your mid-afternoon Walking Dead-like state has a lot to do with your diet, says Cassie Kipper, an Equinox Tier 4 Coach and R.D. "If you started your day with nothing more than a cup of coffee or a bowl of cereal, you're bound to feel your energy start to drop sooner in the day."
She adds that lunch can also be a contributing factor, especially if it's loaded with carbs. After any meal, your blood sugar rises for about two hours—and then it drops off. But, Kipper says, "If your lunch was carbohydrate-heavy and didn't contain enough protein and fiber, the blood sugar can rise and drop even more quickly, causing you to feel groggy."
Even if you eat a substantial breakfast (around 400 calories) and a lunch that combines carbs and protein, you might still succumb to the midday slump. "Eating raises your body's core temperature as the body works to digest and metabolize your food," Kipper explains. A few hours post-meal, your core body temperature drops, signaling your brain to release melatonin, which causes you to feel tired.
Kipper's advice? For starters, work out more: "Regular exercise has been shown to provide more energy throughout the day. If you aren't able to get in an early-morning or lunchtime workout, try a 15-minute power walk around the time you usually start your slump." She also suggests snacking to control blood-sugar levels. The ideal snack is around 200 to 300 calories and contains a balance of carbohydrates and protein. Here, five ideal choices:
1. A piece of fruit and two tablespoons of peanut butter (or another nut butter).
2. One ounce of almonds (about 25) and a handful of grapes.
3. One ounce of cheese with a few whole-wheat crackers.
4. Two ounces (a moderate handful) of trail mix.
5. Six ounces of greek yogurt with fruit.
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