Want to avoid that afternoon "please, caffeine and chocolate, rescue me" tiredness? Stay naturally energized by tossing these myths:
Myth #1: Afternoon energy dips are mainly caused by what you ate for lunch.
Truth: If some foods are a factor, it's likely that they magnify an afternoon slump rather than cause it. A large, heavy meal at lunch can exacerbate a longing for a nap (or at least for coffee delivery). So can an unbalanced supply of carbohydrates, protein, and fats.
Myth #2: Afternoon slumps are unnatural and mean something's wrong.
Truth: Not everyone's daytime sleepiness is the result of lunch habits or a sleep disorder. Your natural circadian rhythms create small ebbs and flows in functions, including temperature, hormone levels, blood pressure, appetite -- and sleep and alertness.
One major dip we need is between midnight and dawn (yes¸ even teenagers need it for optimal functioning and waist size). There's a second, smaller dip between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. It's possible that this is an evolutionary leftover from a time when afternoon naps were somehow conducive to survival (but probably not at your company).
Myth #3: Lunchtime workouts make the afternoon dip worse.
Truth: Workers are less likely to suffer afternoon fatigue on days when they exercise during lunch. The type, duration, or intensity of exercise doesn't seem to matter, which means even a mini midday stretch or walk session may help you never again suffer post lunch dip. Can't get out midday? Even brief bouts of exercise, done regularly, are effective short- and long-term energy boosters. So get your pedometer on, grab a buddy, and start moving.
Follow these 3 steps to create a perfectly balanced energizing lunch.
To help ensure your lunch is giving you rock star energy -- instead of weighing you down -- you just have to follow three simple rules.
The three keys are quality carbs, healthy fat, and lean protein -- nutritional bases you need to cover to keep energy levels from bottoming out.
1. Quality carbs: Build your meal out of complex carbs -- the kind that are digested slowly to give you a longer, steadier stream of energy. Just about any high-fiber carb will do, including beans, brown rice, whole-grain bread, quinoa, and veggies like brussels sprouts and eggplant.
2. Healthy fat: You'll need a bit of healthy fat to help your body absorb all the goodness of certain fat-soluble nutrients in your meal (like vitamins A, D, and E). Fats also help you feel full longer. Try topping soups and salads with chopped walnuts and drizzling some olive oil on your whole-wheat pasta. Sandwich lovers, replace your mayo with a few slices of creamy avocado.
3. Lean protein: I recommend making your meal "mostly veggie" and then adding some lean protein to give it a little more lasting power. Skinless chicken, lean meats, fish, tofu, eggs, and beans are all primo sources of healthful protein.