I’m a nutrition expert — here’s how to avoid that afternoon energy slump (2024)

You know the feeling all too well.

Lunchtime has passed, there’s still several hours until you can leave the office, and your energy levels are crashing. You might turn to that third (or fourth) cup of coffee or head to the vending machine to see what snacks might be available — but neither of those options are a great idea, Dr. Christopher Rhodes told “Fox News.”

The nutritional biologist, who is based in Davis, California, revealed several practices that you should try the next time you find yourself yawning at your desk. Here are five ways to beat your afternoon slump and power through your day.

Resist the urge to ‘graze’


Snacking throughout the day can actually can make you sleepy and cause unnecessary spikes in blood sugar, Rhodes said.

“Small snacks often don’t meet our body’s satiation thresholds — meaning that while food is coming in, it’s not biologically sufficient to actually make us feel less hungry,” Rhodes told Fox News.

What’s more, previous studies have shown that bored people have a tendency to eat just to distract themselves (even though they’re not actually hungry); and that sometimes, you might just be thirsty instead. If you find yourself zoning out at work and reaching for a snack, ask yourself if you might actually just be bored, and try drinking a glass of water first.

Rhodes also pointed out that plenty of manufactured snacks are actually designed to make you want to eat even more.

“There’s a reason you can’t eat just one potato chip,” he said.

If you’re certain that you’re hungry for a snack, reach for high-protein options or whole foods. Think: nuts, fruit or jerky — all of which can provide you with some filling fiber, protein and sustained energy.

Avoid high sugar foods

On a similar note to the above, Rhodes said you should try your best to keep your glucose in check throughout the day. Glucose, which is the simplest form of sugar that our bodies store and use for energy, comes from carbohydrates. If you’re diabetic, you already know about the importance of keeping your glucose level throughout the day — and that you should avoid foods that can cause big spikes or drops.

But even if you don’t have diabetes, keeping your glucose levels in check can be a great way to maintain your energy throughout the day.

“The body is very good at using and processing glucose within a specific range, but go too low or too high, and that’s where you get into trouble,” Rhodes said.

“The key to sustained energy is keeping your glucose levels balanced in normal ranges throughout the day.”

And although continuous glucose monitors might be trendy, you really don’t need one to track your levels. Instead, just pair carbohydrates with healthy fats, protein and fiber to avoid a spike.

Lay off the coffee


It might sound counterintuitive, but coffee is a no-go according to Rhodes — for the same reason he also suggests you avoid sugar or anything that will spike your blood glucose.

“Just like sugar, caffeine can provide short, intense bursts of energy that often leave us feeling even more miserable and sluggish just a few hours later,” Rhodes said.

Instead, he suggests drinking green tea — which contains caffeine, but also anti-oxidants and other compounds, like L-theanine.

“L-theanine and caffeine are both naturally present in green tea, which is why green tea tends to provide a much more balanced experience than coffee,” Rhodes said.

L-theanine is an amino acid, which is said to help ease stress, insomnia and anxiety.

Eat a nutritionally dense lunch


Make your lunch low carb and stack it with proteins and veggies, Rhodes advised. Think: lean proteins like chicken, fibrous veggies, healthy fats like avocados and nuts, plus lots of water to help your body digest.

“While carbohydrate-rich foods will provide you with a quick burst of energy, they can lead to glucose spikes that can throw your systems out of balance — and they typically contain fewer micronutrients and bioactives that support cognition, energy production and productivity,” Rhodes said.

He also suggested considering vegetable soups or replacing rice or pasta lunch dishes with zucchini “zoodles” or cauliflower rice.

Get active after eating


You already know that sitting all day is a bad idea, but taking regular walking breaks — especially after eating — can be a great way to improve your energy levels, Rhodes advised.

“After a meal, your body naturally reprioritizes its energy toward digestion and metabolism, putting other organ systems like your muscles and brain on the back burner,” Rhodes said.

Physical activity immediately after eating can help balance out a potential glucose spike. Plus, a walk after a meal can help you feel more alert, clear-headed and ready to tackle the rest of your day.

Instead of breaking down what you just ate and storing it for later, Rhodes said, a quick activity — whether walking, climbing stairs or even doing a few quick chores — can help your body to use that energy right away.

I’m a nutrition expert — here’s how to avoid that afternoon energy slump (2024)
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