Overcome the mid-afternoon energy slump

Once all the excitement of Christmas and the new year is over, it doesn’t take long before we start slipping back into old habits. We have every intention of hitting the gym in the morning and eating salad for lunch, but with the dark, drizzly weather and lack of sunlight, it becomes all too easy to choose spaghetti over spinach and chocolate over Kombucha. But these winter-friendly choices inevitably lead to an energy slump at around 3pm. We all know that feeling – you’re sitting at your desk and it suddenly feels like every atom of energy has been sucked from your body and as hard as you try, you simply can’t focus. Or, a worse scenario, you’re in a meeting with your boss, forced to use every ounce of concentration just to keep your eyes open. 

Falling asleep during your boss’s presentation isn’t the best way to start 2020, but here’s the good news: it doesn’t have to be this way. We’ve done a little digging to find out why we have these mid-afternoon energy slumps, what causes them and exactly how to put an end to them. So, here are our 5 top tips on how to overcome that 3pm slump…

1. Don’t miss breakfast

Food is fuel: it’s what maintains our energy throughout the day. Skipping breakfast is like skipping your fuel for the morning, and you’ll soon be running on empty. People who skip breakfast tend to say they aren’t hungry in the mornings and can’t face food, but it also means they’ll be starving at lunch time and will reach for carb-heavy options to fill them up as quickly as possible. These carbs are the reason for that energy slump.

So, to all you non-breakfast eaters out there, habits are powerful and as soon as you start eating breakfast, your body will soon get used to it and thank you for it. For a nutritious breakfast that will keep your energy levels high until lunch, we recommend porridge oats with fruit, a protein-shake banana smoothie or a simple omelette.

2. Know your carbs

Sugar is what makes our energy fluctuate, but not many people realize that sugar doesn’t just come in the form of sweet food. Certain carbohydrates turn into a form of sugar called glucose as we digest them, which causes our energy to soar and then to dip. The kinds of carbs that cause this reaction are mostly processed carbs such as white bread, pasta, French fries, baked potatoes, pastries and white rice. 

But the good news is that there are tons of carbohydrates that will keep your energy maintained throughout the day. These include sweet potatoes, lentils, brown rice, quinoa, whole grain bread, whole grain pasta, oatmeal and lots of vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, beans and most fruit.

So, next time you plan your lunch, remember the kinds of carbs that make your energy dip and the kinds that keep it level. Being armed with this knowledge is the most effective way to manage that mid-afternoon slump. 

3. Track your sleep 

There are many things you can do to ensure you have a consistent sleep pattern. Being in bed at the same time every evening and waking up around the same time every morning helps a lot. We also recommend meditation as a great way to still the mind and to stop those racing thoughts that keep you up at night. Also, make sure to switch off all screens at least an hour before you plan to go to sleep. These seem like simple changes, but if you implement all of them consistently into your evening routine, you’ll find the quality of your sleep will soon increase and you won’t be nodding off in the middle of that client meeting. Win!

For more information on sleep, read our blog post about the different kinds of sleep cycles.

4. Drink tons of water

As we mentioned in our Recovering Sugar Addict blog post, the more water you drink, the more your body craves it, and it’s all about getting into the habit. We recommend keeping a large, 1.5L bottle of water on your desk at all times, as this way you’ll get into the habit of absent-mindedly sipping on it throughout the day. The recommended amount of daily water intake is about 3.7L for men and 2.7L for women. 

We human beings are made up of mostly water, so to drink it is to constantly replenish your body. As a result, it’s incredible how quickly your energy levels increase once you’re properly hydrated. The issue is that many of us don’t notice that we’re dehydrated and instead will just grab a coffee or a snack rather than drinking a bottle of water. Drinking water doesn’t only help you lose weight by flushing out all those toxins, but it boosts your energy by replenishing the body’s much-needed supplies. So next time you reach for a mid-morning coffee or an afternoon snack, have a big gulp of water and you’ll notice the difference in no time!

5. Plan your lunches

It’s easy to reach for the unhealthy option at lunchtime – whether that’s going out to eat with colleagues or just grabbing a quick snack between meetings. That’s why it’s so important you plan your lunch ahead of time to make sure you make the right choice every day. You can prep your lunches on a Sunday evening, package them up and bring them to work throughout the week. Check out these lunchbox inspiration ideas from Madeleine Shaw, a UK-based nutritionist and a leading health and wellness facilitator. 

Sticking to these 5 tips is guaranteed to help reduce that mid-afternoon energy slump – so what are you waiting for? Kick start those changes today!

Urban Sports Club has tons of fitness partners that make the perfect accompaniment to your wellness journey. Sign up today and see for yourself. 

header image: Unsplash © Tim Guow


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