Mid-afternoon on a week day, my energy starts to wane. It's occurred so consistently and for so many years, that I long ago learned that hydration, physical activity, and/or food will usually solve my low afternoon energy.
I can easily address hydration and physical activity, even if I only have time to down a glass of water before taking a 5 minute walk. But food feels more complicated.
Some meals and snacks hit the spot and I can finish my day and still have energy left. Some food choices leave me feeling sluggish, heavy, or they give me a quick burst of energy only to leave me crashing a few minutes later.
To make it simple and make sure I get both quick and sustained energy from my food, I focus on getting foods from each of these four nutrients:
Carbs to give quick energy and help clear brain fog
grains, fruit, vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds
Protein for sustained satiety
meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy, nuts and seeds, legumes
Fat for sustained satiety
butter, oils, fatty meat
and Fiber for sustained satiety and to promote blood sugar control.
non-starchy vegetables, fruit, legumes, nuts and seeds, whole grains
When choosing a meal or snack, I try to ensure that it contains a least one item from each category. That way I know my body is going to get the energy boost I need.
Sometimes, this strategy doesn't work. Like when I eat the whole serving of baked Mac 'n Cheese plus a side salad. Which technically meets the above criteria, but in practice, leaves me feeling sluggish instead of energized.
To prevent that sluggish, heavy feeling after eating,
Avoid or limit fried foods and full fat cream sauces. A high fat meal takes longer to digest, staying in your stomach longer and can feel "heavy".
Eat until you are satisfied, not “full.” By the time you recognize that you're full, you may be overfull.
Lastly, plan ahead when you can. My next blog will have tips for meal planning.
For meal planning ideas and energy-filled meal tips, follow me on Instagram @Nourish.Energize.Embrace.
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