You just encountered the “afternoon slump.” When mid-afternoon rolls around, your body’s internal clock—the circadian rhythm—is craving a nap. The circadian rhythm tells your body when to sleep, wake up, and eat. For the most part, the typical peak times for when your body desires sleep is between 2 to 4 a.m. and between 2 and 3 p.m. That afternoon peak time is unfortunately in the middle of your workday, which means you’re in no position to take a nap. That timing doesn’t make for a productive afternoon.
Snack Ideas to Beat the Afternoon Slump
When you feel the afternoon slump creeping on your productivity, it’s time to get up. Walk around your office for a bit to stretch, and get your energy back up again. And since the afternoon slump is normal to everyone, you’re probably going to run into some co-workers who are walking around the office also trying to beat the sudden feeling of tiredness. Why not push through the lull together by eating healthy snacks that improve energy? Maybe you and your colleagues usually get a coffee, soda, or donut as a quick pick-me-up. Sure, those items will rapidly boost your blood sugar, but the sudden rush of energy will quickly come down, putting you back to square one: battling the afternoon slump once again.
Here are some ideas for snacks that contain the nutrients and vitamins best for fighting off the afternoon slump:
Trail mix with nuts: This tasty treat isn’t just for hiking trails. The mix of nuts and fruit can help keep your energy levels up while working in the corporate jungle. Almonds, cashews, and pine nuts contain magnesium, a nutrient that helps to increase energy. Keep a container of trail mix on the communal sharing table—every office has a designated eating spot—and your co-workers will thank you.
Plain popcorn: This snack sometimes gets a bad rap for being unhealthy because it’s often drizzled with butter. But plain air-popped popcorn is only roughly around 30 calories per cup. Popcorn is also known to have a high level of antioxidants. But if you must have some flavor, try spritzing olive oil or sprinkle grated parmesan cheese. These ingredients add flavor without going overboard on calories.
Pretzels: While the health benefits of pretzels are somewhat up for debate among healthy eating advocates, pretzels are still a better choice than many greasy potato chips. Pretzels contain carbs that can help you hold over your hunger until dinnertime. Here’s a tip: For an extra sweet-spicy flavor, try dipping your pretzels in Just Mustard sauce made by hamptoncreek.
Other Ideas to Pick up Low Energy Levels
In addition to keeping healthy snacks on hand, there’s also other things you can do in the morning to help you keep up your energy levels throughout the day:
Drink water: When you feel thirsty, that means your dehydration has kicked in. Dehydration can make you tired and less focused. Make sure to drink water throughout the day, aiming for six to eight glasses of water.
Eat protein in your lunch: Foods like chicken, tuna, eggs or lean meats help to block the sleep-inducing serotonin. Also, eating protein helps to increase the brain chemicals that improve focus, reaction time, and concentration—dopamine and norepinephrine.
Include carbs: In addition to protein, make sure you include carbs with your lunch. Food with high fiber content and low glycemic index help to keep your blood sugar level up, which helps to prevent you from feeling like you need a nap. Be careful of the portion size—carbs also increase serotonin brain chemical, making you feel sleepy. That’s what you’re trying to overcome with the afternoon slump.
Before the afternoon slump takes a toll on your productivity, keep it at bay with these healthy snack ideas. Help your co-workers battle their low energy levels as well by sharing these healthy snacks at the communal food area.