Many of us see the clock hit 3 p.m. and are trying to do everything to stay awake and alert at our desks.
Many will turn to a snack or a drink to boost their afternoon alertness, but it turns out that what we reach for may send us crashing down later in the day.
According to Liz DeJulius, a registered dietician at Cleveland Clinic, it all comes down to the right mix of foods that will provide energy that will last.
“Choose foods that have a good combination of protein, fat and fiber,” said DeJulius. “All of those are going to give you the sustained energy that you need, rather than just a quick, initial surge which will then plummet your blood sugar.”
DeJulius said good snacks that can help combat fatigue are nuts and seeds and because they’re compact and easy to store, it’s convenient to grab them and keep them stashed in a car or in a desk drawer.
Even nut and seed butters, like almond butter or cashew butter have a good combination of protein, fat and fiber for sustained energy.
DeJulius said whole grains are also good, as they provide good glucose, which gives the body energy, and the fiber helps prolong that energy throughout the day.
On the flip side, DeJulius warned that refined carbohydrates and sugars, like those found in white bread, white rice, candy and soda do just the opposite.
Refined carbs get metabolized very quickly and might give people a boost at first, but will eventually send the body’s blood sugar plummeting later on in the day, making them feel even more tired and worn out.
According to DeJulius, an often over-looked afternoon energy offender is alcohol.
“Alcohol gets metabolized into sugar and also it’s a central nervous system depressant; so that can really just keep you feeling fatigued and not energized,” said DeJulius. “And it messes with your sleep system, so that’s prolonging the amount of energy that you’re hindering by messing up the quality and the quantity of sleep that you’re getting.”
DeJulius also said it’s important to not forget to drink plenty of water, as water helps keep the nutrients flowing through our bodies, giving us energy. Not drinking enough water can cause the body to feel fatigued.