What to eat to avoid the afternoon slump and increase productivity

Does this story sound familiar? Hit snooze twice, then lay in bed for 5 minutes scrolling social media. Realize it’s getting late so you throw on some clothes, pull your hair in a bun and grab a coffee on your way to your desk. 

You start working and are totally in the zone. Then you look up, it’s noon and all you’ve had all day was that latte. You’re ravenous, so you grab a yogurt and granola, some rice crackers and cheese. But you’re still hungry, and your energy is starting to crash. The second cup of coffee, a slice of leftover pizza, and a candy bar will do the job. 

Suddenly it’s 2 pm. You’re basically asleep at your desk. All productivity is out the window and you might as well be a zombie straight out of Shaun of the Dead. Even another cup of coffee can’t get you back into any sort of productivity, but you try it anyway. 

7 pm hits and you close your laptop and order takeout, no time to make dinner tonight. 

That night, it was hard to fall asleep. Too much caffeine, and eating at 8 pm means you’re still digesting dinner (which can also make it hard to sleep). “I will NOT do that again tomorrow”. But you will.

Break the cycle

Let’s visit an alternative universe.

You wake up after a great night of sleep, excited for the breakfast sandwich you know is waiting for you. Once a month you take an hour to make a bunch of breakfast sandwiches and then freeze them, so you can pop one in the toaster oven every morning.

You get to work, and after 3 hours your alarm goes off to have lunch. It’s ready for you – a taco bowl with the BEST salsa and some chocolate for dessert. After you eat, you take a 10-minute walk outside, and then a solution for the problem that was a sticking point for you this morning pops into your head out of thin air.

2 pm hits, and you are in the middle of putting that new idea into practice while munching on your afternoon snack. You finish the day by 5, since you didn’t have a zombie afternoon you were super productive and now have time to make a nice dinner.

You only had one cup of coffee and ate at 6, so going to sleep is easy.

This is the difference that nutritional balance makes. Taking the time to plan and prepare meals in advance takes effort – but one that saves you time, stress, and unnecessary extra calories.

According to my research….

This story is great – but does changing your eating habits actually make you more productive?

Eating fruits and veggies makes us happier – an effect that lasts at least 24 hours! Research also points to a boost to your curiosity and creativity too. You’ll get more (and better) work done when you are happy, curious, and creative. Your quality of life will be better too!

 

Researchers from UCLA found that the brain works best when you have about 25 grams of glucose (carbs) in the bloodstream, so you want a relatively stable amount in your system without a bunch of highs or lows. Eating small to medium size meals at steady intervals is the key to stable blood sugars. 

 

Researchers have also observed that people who eat a large lunch (especially a lot of carbs) usually have a bigger afternoon slump because of the increase and then crash in blood sugars.

A study by the World Health Organization says that adequate nutrition can raise productivity levels by 20 percent – and we all know this to be true in our gut.

What should I eat?

Balance your meals with protein, vegetables, and fat. Limit to 1 or 2 carb servings if you have a sedentary job.

This keeps blood sugars stable, avoiding spikes and crashes in blood sugar.

Hydration throughout the day is also an important factor since dehydration can cause brain fog, fatigue, and cause headaches.

Here are a few meal examples:

Breakfast sandwich: English muffin (carb), 2 eggs (protein and fat), a slice of cheese (protein and fat), with a side of cherry tomatoes (vegetable). 

Check here for more quick breakfast ideas 

Taco bowl: Chicken (protein), brown rice (carb), salsa and bell pepper (vegetable), avocado (fat), and chocolate (delicious)

Here are my favorite grab-and-go lunches for busy days! 

Your snack can be as simple as a piece of fruit. If you want more ideas, here are my 40 favorite ones!

Plan ahead to get ahead

There should be less than 5 minutes between taking your breakfast or lunch out of the fridge and sitting to eat it. Make what you have prepared the easy, convenient, and obvious choice. Don’t make it harder on yourself, even if you work from home and have access to a full kitchen.

If you don’t have time or just hate prepping, frozen meals or prepped ones from the grocery store are a great middle ground. You can also use meal delivery services specializing in nutritious meals ready to heat and eat.

Taking 2 hours every week to plan and prepare your meals will easily save you 5 hours of last-minute cooking and increase your productivity with balanced blood sugars. That’s not counting the money spent on takeout, coffee, or the opportunity cost of ineffective work.

Pay Attention!!

Take note of how what you eat impacts you, what energizes you, and what makes you feel creative and productive. Keeping track of your eating and energy levels can help you identify patterns.

This is how you get ahead and create a business that thrives! Your mind, body, and energy are your most valuable assets. Take care of them.

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