Afternoon Energy Boosters
Feeling lazy after lunchtime? Follow these tips for beating the afternoon energy slump.
Foods for an Energy Boost
If you want to beat the midafternoon slump, start first thing in the morning
with a good-quality breakfast. (We lecture our kids about it, but how often do
we take our own advice?) Most women should be eating about 300 to 400 calories
for breakfast, and most men, about 500, says Sandon. Instead of coffee and half
a Danish, try these options:
- A bowl of cereal with skim milk and a glass of juice or piece of fresh
- Two slices of toast with peanut butter and a banana
- An English muffin topped with a scrambled egg and a slice of low-fat
"You need carbs to get your day going," says Sandon. "The brain and muscles
function best with carbohydrates to fuel them. And we know from other research
that adding some protein to the carbs seems to boost concentration levels as
well. You feel better, mentally and physically, when you've had a meal that
combines carbs and protein."
Sufficiently fueled by breakfast, you might feel like it's OK to skip lunch
or "just grab a salad" because you don't have time or are trying to lose
weight. "That's a huge mistake people make at lunch -- just having a salad with
lettuce and a few vegetables," says Sandon. "They don't have protein with the
salad, and then again they find themselves crashing in the midafternoon."
So if you're cruising through the salad bar at lunchtime, top the greens
with some diced egg, beans or chickpeas, turkey breast, or cubed chicken to
give yourself that protein fix. Or smear some peanut butter on your celery
And avoid lunches that are heavy in fat; they take longer to digest and sit
in your stomach, feeling heavy longer. "That gives you a sense of low energy,"
Sandon says. "The calories may be there to provide fuel, but the feeling of
fullness leads you to feel sluggish."
More Energy-Boosting Tips
But what if it's too late to prevent the energy slump? You chugged down a
latte for breakfast, ate a skimpy salad for lunch, and now you're drooping over
your afternoon reports. What can you do for a quick energy boost? Resist the
temptation to hit the vending machines for a Diet Coke and a Snickers. Instead,
try Sandon's three-part solution:
Get moving. Take a brisk walk, or better yet, find the staircase in
your office building and do five or six flights to get your blood pumping and
your body warmed up. In addition, taking your mind off what you've been focused
on and getting a quick change of scenery (yes, even if it's a stairwell instead
of a computer screen) can help to re-energize you. If you don't have a
staircase handy, try doing some squats and lunges in your office, or keep a
jump rope on the back of your door. "You want anything that gets you breathing
a little quicker and moving the muscles," Sandon says.
Get wet. Take a drink of water, that is (don't pour it over
yourself). "A big glass of cold water -- bottled, tap, or fountain, it doesn't
matter -- can really refresh you," says Sandon. "Adding a slice of lemon or
lime can also perk you up."
Get fueled. "If you weren't fortified well at breakfast and lunch,
you need to take a moment and have a snack," Sandon says. Good options include
fresh fruit, trail mix with nuts, or whole-wheat crackers with string cheese.
If you have to go to the vending machine, look for peanut butter crackers, a
nice carb-protein combination.