By Megan Moore, RDN, LD, CDCES
Have you ever wished (as you went for another coffee refill) that mandatory naptime wasn’t discontinued after preschool? The afternoon slump can be a real struggle!
If you often feel like your energy levels are not quite where they should be, then it might be time to think about the foods you are eating and the schedule you are keeping. The type and quantity of food you eat play essential roles in determining your energy levels throughout the day.
Here are 7 key tips to ensure you have lasting energy to power through your busy day!
Stay well hydrated.
Up to 65% of the adult human body is made up of water. Not drinking enough fluids will lead to dehydration, which can leave you feeling sluggish and tired. Try keeping a bottle or jug of water with you to sip on all throughout the day. Adults really need 8-10 cups of water each day to stay well hydrated. So next time you feel like you need a nap at 2:00 pm, try drinking a big glass of water instead!
Eat low-glycemic carbohydrates.
High fiber, complex carbs are a great source of energy and because they have a low glycemic index, they do not cause a rapid rise in blood sugar followed by a crash. Foods like quinoa, beans, brown rice, whole oats, oranges, berries, apples, pears, and vegetables will help regulate your blood sugar levels, keeping your energy consistent throughout the day.
Balanced meals and snacks.
When you plan a meal, try combining non-starchy veggies, a high fiber carbohydrate, a lean protein, and a small amount of healthy fat. One example might be ¾ cup of brown rice, 2-oz tuna, 2 cups of mixed salad greens, 2 T vinaigrette dressing, and 2 T chopped walnuts. A well-balanced combination like this will keep you satisfied and energetic for several hours.
Get your B-vitamins.
There are eight B-vitamins which all work together to help break down food into energy and transport energy-containing nutrients around the body. B-vitamins are found in a vast variety of foods, but some specifically high in all the B’s are eggs, salmon, plain Greek yogurt, tuna, and fortified nutritional yeast.
Small, regular meals.
Studies have shown that eating large amounts at one sitting, especially at lunch, can lead to an afternoon slump. Try eating smaller meals as frequently as you feel hungry. Also, practice eating slowly and mindfully so you are aware of when you have eaten enough.
Exercise gets your blood flowing, which circulates oxygen and gives your cells more energy to burn. Research has also shown that exercise releases endorphins that boost our mental function, concentration, and mood. So the next time you feel like you need a 15-minute nap, try a 15-min walk instead!
Get adequate sleep.
Shocker! When we are sleep deprived we feel exhausted. Ideally, adults need 7-8 hours of sleep per night. However, the other key component here is getting good quality of sleep.
The CDC offers these habits to help improve your sleep health:
Be consistent. Go to bed at the same time each night and get up at the same time each morning, including on the weekends
Make sure your bedroom is quiet, dark, relaxing, and at a comfortable temperature
Remove electronic devices, such as TVs, computers, and smart phones, from the bedroom
Avoid large meals, caffeine, and alcohol before bedtime
Get some exercise. Being physically active during the day can help you fall asleep more easily at night.
Let’s say good-bye to the daily afternoon slump and try incorporating these seven sustainable energizing habits instead. Your friends at the coffee shop you frequent might miss you, but I promise you will feel so much better in the long run.