Today we have a blog post from mobile personal training specialist Kat Rotunno, Kat is one of 4 U Body Fitness elite weight management trainers and has wrote this blog post to help you guys optimise your results and more importantly get through that mid afternoon slump!
I think that ‘the afternoon slump’ is something we have all experienced at some stage. We may experience it every day! It can severely impact our physical and mental performance and can hinder our health and fitness goals by making poor food and beverage choices to ‘fix’ the energy slump (think processed sweets and sugary energy drinks) and avoiding exercise due to lack of energy and motivation.
Why do we get it? How do we avoid it? What are the ‘good’ food choices to make? Read on.
We all know what we eat influences how we look, feel, and the amount of energy we have. We also know that planning what you eat for the day is important in making the right choices and avoiding the convenient options which often result in guilt and a greater energy slump due to a blood sugar crash following that option. So the first thing is to plan your food, eating a nutrient-dense type of diet and avoiding processed and refined food. Starting most importantly with:
You’ve all heard it before; breakfast is the most important meal of the day, because it is true.
The food you eat during the day, but particularly before mid afternoon can severely impact productivity for the rest of the day, affecting your mental and physical energy you need until the evening.
A good start to the day is a brekkie that include protein, carbohydrates and fibre. It has been proven, that people that eat high fibre, protein rich breakfasts, feel fuller for longer and their food cravings are reduced. You will then be far less likely to eat unhealthy foods later in the day and into the evening.
An example of a good breakfast is a poached egg and sliced avocado on wholegrain toast, or rolled oats with yoghurt/milk and fresh fruit.
If you begin your day with insufficient amounts of protein and fibre, you’ll often find yourself starved by lunchtime. Then, when your blood sugar is low, that’s when you are likely to reach for the high carbohydrate foods, with refined sugar and little nutritional value. While these may seem like the best ‘filling’ options at the time, they will cause your blood sugar level to spike which will exacerbate the later crash.
Now we’ve started our day well, we must continue our good trends to avoid the slump with a wholesome lunch. As previously mentioned, refined sugars and starchy carbohydrates may seem like the yummy filling option, they are going to set you up for that major afternoon crash that we want to avoid! Particularly if you are in an inactive job role, your body won’t be burning as many carbohydrates throughout the day, so steer clear.
The best option is to make a balanced lunch with a good protein fix, such as a grilled chicken breast, a veggie burger, egg, lentils or legumes, tuna etc, and lots of fresh veggies and a small amount of carbohydrates. For example, a tuna and salad sandwich (or wrap if trying to lose weight), a hardboiled egg and sliced vegetables on crackers, a grilled chicken salad or a lentil dhal/soup.
Remember also that bottled juices and soft drinks are also full of processed and refined sugar so opt for water or herbal tea instead.
Even after doing all this, you may still get a bit peckish in the afternoon and feel you need something. There is nothing wrong with this, and allow yourself to eat if you need, just the right things! If you starve yourself, you’ll be famished by dinner time, and eat a serving far bigger than you should be for the evening.
Top 10 Suggestions for afternoon snacks:
Green tea (green tea extract is another one that has been shown to help regulate blood sugar, suppress your cravings and leave you with a nice full feeling)
Peppermint Tea reduces bloating, improves indigestion and will leave you with a refreshing taste to help keep you focused in the afternoon.
- Skim hot chocolate
Instead of the biscuits, get your sweet fix from this combination of protein and low GI carbohydrates, which will help make it through the arvo. Try ‘Vitarium Sugar Free Drinking Chocolate’ with a guilt free 8.6 calories per serve added to your milk!
- Protein Bar/shake
A convenient and tasty option for an afternoon snack, these are specifically designed to provide you with extra protein. Make sure you choose the high protein, lower sugar & low fat options.
- Chopped veggies such as carrot and celery with a homemade hummus or tzatiki dip.
The veggies and release their energy slowly, which will keep you fuller for longer + the dip contains protein that fills you up until dinner.
- Wholegrain toast with ricotta and sliced strawberries.
Low-GI wholegrain bread will provide long-lasting energy, as will the ricotta, with the strawberries giving a sweet fresh touch of natural sugar.
- Berry and dark chocolate trail mix
For those who like to pick and have a sweet tooth. Make your own trail mix with ingredients such as; almonds, sunflower seeds, goji berries and a couple of dark chocolate squares – packed with antioxidants and fibre and protein.
- Berries with natural yoghurt
For both a protein boost with the yoghurt and a vitamin C, fibre and antioxidant hit from the berries, this is a winning combination for an afternoon snack.
- Tuna on wholegrain crackers
A convenient option that you can mix up with the flavour varieties of canned tuna out there. Will provide you with protein (noticing a trend?) and omega 3 fatty acids.
- Plain rice cakes with low fat cottage/cream cheese and slice tomato and avocado
Rice cakes are no fat, low cal option & boost magnesium. Top with suggested ingredients to help get in another serve of your 5 required servings of vegetables per day, plus healthy fats and fibre from the avocado and protein from the cheese.
- Nut bar
Similar to protein bars, these are rich in protein as well as fibre (just make sure you chose a nutritious option such as Go Natural Nut Delight) they are convenient options due to being on-perishable and portable. Keep in car/handbag for those desperate times!
Tip – Cinnamon keeps blood sugar levels balanced. Try sprinkle a teaspoon into meals, like on natural yoghurt, it also adds a yummy flavour.
Top 5 Tips to avoid the afternoon slump:
- To reemphasis, eat a good brekkie! It will stablise your blood sugar levels throughout the day
- Keep your metabolism ‘peppy’ by eating regularly, every 3-4 hours, including protein each time (to keep your blood sugar from dropping in between meals)
- Eat and chew slowly allowing time for the full feeling to register
- Don’t mistake your hunger for dehydration. Drink plenty of water throughout the day (also fat cells are harder to break down when you’re dehydrated – even more reason to stay hydrated!)
- Exercise away your slump! Even a short walk. Yes, I understand that working-out requires energy, but, in the end it will actually serve to rejuvenate you and provide you with more mental and physical energy.
LASTLY! To tie it back to all important exercise. Exercise in general slows digestion and keeps you feeling full longer. It also helps maintain normal blood glucose levels so you feel less hungry. So make sure you are being active EVERYDAY.
Happy energetic afternoons everyone
4 U Body Fitness
Mobile Personal Training Specialist
If You Would Like The Opportunity To Train With Kat! Click The Link Below!