Are you having trouble concentrating, or finding yourself wanting to take a mid-afternoon nap at your desk? Most of us have experienced the overwhelming sensation of exhaustion at less-than-optimal times. The good news is that you may be able to reduce fatigue and boost energy levels by paying attention to a few key habits and food decisions, including what and when you eat.
Here are a few tips to avoid a mid-afternoon crash and instead keep your energy levels more stable throughout the day.
1. Focus on steady energy throughout the day.
One possible reason for that afternoon crash is that we are experiencing a dip in blood sugar, which causes us to feel tired and lethargic. This could be because we’ve been eating larger, spaced-out meals, resulting in a sudden influx of energy, followed by a slump or maybe it’s because we’ve been skipping some meals altogether. Eating smaller, more frequent meals and snacks throughout the day (every 3-4 hours) may help minimize the spikes and dips in blood sugar that stem from less consistent energy intake.
2. Build your meals with the “big three” — Carbs, protein and fat.
Another reason many of us experience that afternoon slump is because we aren’t building meals and snacks with a solid mix of the different, important macronutrients. Carbs, protein and fat serve unique purposes in our bodies, and it’s important to include them all throughout the day. This balanced combination of macronutrients also helps our blood sugar and energy levels stay steadier after we’ve finished eating.
Additionally, consuming whole and packaged foods that are high in protein, fiber and/or whole grains at an eating occasion can keep you feeling full.
3. When deciding which carbohydrates to eat, choose whole grains at least half of the time
There are two types of grains that we eat — whole and refined. Whole grain foods contain all parts of a grain’s seed — the bran, the germ and the endosperm. Refined grains have a smoother texture and a longer shelf life. The refining process removes much of the bran and germ which results in the loss of fiber, B vitamins, vitamin E, iron, trace minerals, protein and unsaturated fat. “Enriched” grains will have many of these key nutrients added back to them after processing. Due to its fiber content, whole grains are digested more slowly than refined grains allowing for a more gradual rise in blood sugar, which leads to stable energy levels hours after eating. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that we consume at least half of our grains as whole grains.
4. Health is more than what we eat. Look beyond food. Prioritize sleep.
Sleep is restorative — getting enough sleep can help reduce stress, improve our moods, improve our immune system and improve mental functioning.
Enjoy these tips and hopefully, your afternoon will become more productive. For more information, contact Claudann Jones, Smith County Extension Agent for Family and Community Health at 903-590-2980 or email at email@example.com. Like our Facebook page: Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service Smith County. Stay well and stay safe.