Strategies to Beat the Afternoon Slump

Afternoon Slump
Does your local barista know your name? Does the bakery a block away have your cookie ready before you even walk in? Is the office kitchen’s snack supply calling your name at the same time every day? Well, then it might be time to get real about your 3pm energy slump! You see, you don’t actually have to experience that 3pm “I need a cookie and coffee now” situation every day. There are ways to prevent it by choosing better options throughout the whole day, starting with breakfast. What you fuel your body with from the moment you get up in the morning sets you off on the right–or wrong track for the day. Here are some common culprits and ways to improve your daily habits to avoid the energy rollercoaster and keep you feeling great, focused and sharp all day.

Breakfast Criminal?

A carb-heavy or sugary breakfast, like bagels or cereal, sets your bloodsugar off on a rollercoaster ride of highs and lows that create energy dips, cravings and that not-so-fun hangry (hungry + angry) feeling. Start your day with protein and some healthy fat to keep your blood sugar in check, give you the right fuel for the day, and keep you feeling full for a long time. Protein smoothies or some eggs are easy, quick and tasty breakfast options for any day of the week. For Be Well’s Healthy Breakfast Makeover, sign up here.

Hydrate Hydrate Hydrate

Dehydration is so common and so many people don’t even realize they are dealing with it. But food cravings and low energy are common symptoms of dehydration. So, if 3pm comes around and you’re feeling exhausted and cravings sweets, start by drinking two big glasses of water and wait it out for 20 minutes to see what happens. Chances are you’ll come right back to life.

Fresh Air

The 3pm slump might also just be your body telling you it needs some daylight and fresh air! I often think that our 3pm trek outside for a coffee is actually much more about the walk to and from the coffee shop then the actual coffee. Also, moving the body helps increase circulation and the daylight signals to our bodies’ circadian rhythm that it’s indeed still day time. 

Lunch For The Win

What you eat for lunch will greatly impact how you feel for the rest of the afternoon. A carb-loaded meal such as a sandwich or bowl of pasta is guaranteed to cause an energy slump and sugar cravings just a few hours later. However, our body is ready to digest the biggest meal of the day in the middle of the day so have a nice big raw salad with healthy fats like avocado and seeds, as well as a good quality protein like eggs, wild salmon, sardines or organic chicken, or an omelet with vegetables! Check out these 3 simple yet nourishing lunch recipes.

Let’s Talk About Coffee…

Yes, coffee is delicious and arguably can have some health benefits. However, if you’re one of those who HAVE to have coffee to get through your day – it’s time to give it a break. Here’s some food for thought: coffee is very acidic and dehydrating. It taxes your adrenal glands, as well as your liver and kidneys. Caffeine also seriously disrupts your sleep. Coffee has a half-life of 7 hours; it stays in your system for a long time so that 3pm cup of coffee can absolutely affect your sleep! Even though it might give you that initial boost, you quickly come crashing back down and now your body is worse off than before you had the coffee. When you quit the coffee habit you might be surprised to discover that you actually have MORE energy, feel calmer, are better able to handle stress and yes, sleep better. Give one of these coffee substitutes a try–we promise they won’t disappoint. 

…And The Sugar

We can’t talk about the 3pm slump without talking about sugar. Sugar zaps us of energy and actually depletes our bodies of nutrients. It affects our mood, sleep, energy levels and ability to focus and perform. And the more sugar we eat, the more sugar we want. It’s addicting so treat it like the drug it is and get real about your own relationship to it. If you have that 3pm slump everyday, play detective and get to the bottom of your sugar habit. Maybe the morning OJ or the 10 am Frappuccino is setting you off on the wrong path. Also avoid a lunch loaded with refined carbs (which turns into sugar in the body) such as a sandwich or pizza. It will spike your blood sugar, and once it comes crashing back down you feel like taking a nap or grabbing a cookie to bring the blood sugar back up. The point here is to set yourself up for success in the afternoon, by eating a healthier meal at breakfast and lunch time (see above about that!)

Choose a Better Pick-me-up:

Now that I’ve said all of the above – sometimes we just need a little something on an extra demanding day, after a sleepless night (hello mama’s) or because we are out with colleagues and want to take part! These are my favorite go-to’s:

Green juice: for an instant vitamin injection that perks me up and gives me lots of energy to last through the rest of the day. Watch out for blends with a lot of fruit and stick to the really green ones with a little ginger and lemon.

Matcha latte: this is what I drink instead of coffee and I love it! It has some caffeine in it, but less than coffee! It is also loaded with potent antioxidants and is not taxing and irritating on the body. I make mine with coconut milk and a few drops of stevia.

Really dark chocolate: Chocolate is my happy pill. Cocoa contains some caffeine too and helps boost my mood. I believe in being both happy and healthy so chocolate fits right in! Look for 85% cocoa content or more if you can and stick to organic as much as possible.

Protein shake: An easy-to-digest protein shake can be a great afternoon snack. If you know there are still hours until breakfast and cravings are setting in, curb them with some protein. Make a chocolate whey shake or try a Sustain shake blended up with some avocado and spinach!