The afternoon crash: You finish lunch, get back to your desk, and an hour later you feel like falling asleep at your computer. Day in and day out you experience the ‘crash’, figuring it must be normal… but man could you ever use another coffee.
What if I told you that you didn’t have to fall asleep at 2pm every day? What if I told you there were ways to avoid the dreaded afternoon crash?
There’s a pretty simple equation to keeping your energy up throughout the day. Ultimately it means starting your day of right, and keeping your blood sugar levels steady as the day goes on. Steady blood sugar = steady energy.
Not sure what I mean? Let’s find out more.
Three key steps to avoid the afternoon crash
Eat a balanced breakfast
Too many people continue to skip breakfast on a daily basis, even though it’s often considered the most important meal of the day. Breakfast is your opportunity to reset your body. Depending on what and when you eat, you can influence your blood sugar and metabolism.
While everyone’s body is different, most people thrive on a well-balanced and nutritious breakfast. Your breakfast should contain complex carbohydrates for energy and fibre, a protein source for fullness and metabolism, as well as a healthy fat for fullness and hormone support. Some great ideas for a balanced breakfast include:
- Eggs, a salad or veggies, and half of an avocado
- Oatmeal with berries and almond butter topped with hemp hearts
- A smoothie with banana, spinach, blueberries, a protein powder (this one is my favourite), flax seeds and almond milk.
Avoid a refined-carbohydrate-filled lunch
Similarly, it’s critical to avoid a refined-carbohydrate-filled lunch. I used to bring pasta leftovers to work all the time, and started to notice that was when I felt the most tired. Refined carbohydrates provide us with a quick energy spike, and then a swift drop in energy. Meals like this cause us to have sugar and carbohydrate cravings throughout the day because our bodies need another quick hit of energy.
Instead of eating tons of refined carbohydrates at lunch, try complex carbohydrates or whole grains. Whole grains contain fibre as well as other nutrients allowing for a more sustained energy burn. When you pair the complex carbohydrates with healthy fats and proteins, the food takes longer to digest in your stomach, allowing the energy to slowly be released and metabolized. This avoids blood sugar spikes, reduces cravings, and keeps your energy levels even.
Some great ideas for lunch include:
- Salmon, wild rice and broccoli
- Lentils, quinoa and mixed roasted veggies
- Stir fry with chicken, mixed vegetables and quinoa
And if you’re going to have pasta, try to choose gluten-free brown rice pasta, chickpea/lentil pasta or if you’re eating gluten, choose whole grain pasta. Make sure to pair it with a great protein and enough healthy fat to keep you full.
Keep yourself hydrated
This one is pretty straight forward, but surprisingly it’s one of the hardest habits to create. Water is critical for our overall health – heck, we’re mostly made of water and so are our cells. Water keeps us alive and energized.
One of the ways it does this is by keeping our blood hydrated and easily flowing throughout our body. Without this smooth and easy blood flow, our brain has less access to glucose – it’s main form of energy.
One of the worst habits for hydration is drinking coffee. Coffee is a vasoconstrictor, which makes it harder for your body to pump blood and energy to the brain. It’s also a diuretic, causing your body to expel excess fluids. This means if you drink coffee, it’s key to drink even more water to ensure your body is properly hydrated.
If you’re not a huge fan of water on it’s own, try infusing your water with fruit or putting lemon in your water. Lemon water is great for detoxification and elimination. If you find that you’re drinking tons of water but still don’t feel hydrated, add a small pinch of pink Himalayan sea salt into your water. This can help your cells rehydrate.