afternoon slump - Luke Bremner Fitness - Personal Trainer Edinburgh

In our busy modern lives, it’s not uncommon for our energy levels to go through many peaks and troughs throughout the day.

Here’s a completely fictional (yet surprisingly accurate) representation of how a typical client of Luke Bremner Fitness may experience the day from an energy point of view.

7 AM: Wake up feeling sluggish – need coffee

7.30 AM: Coffee and cereal do the trick, starting to feel quite good!

10 AM: Getting a little tired again, probably time for another coffee…

12 AM: Quickly pop down to Subway and get a 6-inch meatball marinara for lunch.

2 PM: Feeling really sleepy now, a quick cookie and coffee are in order.

2.20 PM: Yep, feeling a lot better now, I’ve got a ton of energy!

3 PM: Spoke too soon, when will this day be over so I can lie down?!

5 PM: Ah, time for a sleepy drive home through rush hour traffic.

7 PM: Nice big spaghetti bolognese for dinner, beautiful.

8 PM: Urgh. I’m bloated and heavy feeling. Netflix on the sofa it is.

12 AM: I should probably stop scrolling Facebook and get some sleep…

And repeat.

The afternoon energy slump is an epidemic.

But, luckily for you, we’ve got six sure-fire ways to maintain more sustained energy throughout the day. Helping you become more productive at work and have the motivation to do more than lounge in front of Netflix once you’re home!

1) Base Your Meals On Protein, Fibre & Healthy Fats

All macronutrients (protein, carbohydrate and fat) aren’t created equal when it comes to energy production.

Now on the face of it, carbohydrates provide you with the fastest form of energy, making it an easy assumption that a diet relying heavily on bread, pasta and cereals would be most effective at providing sustainable energy.

This – despite what old-school food-pyramids might lead you to believe – is a fallacy.

Take the cereal breakfast our example office worker treated themselves to. Initially, the cereal in conjunction with coffee (which we’ll discuss shortly), is going to provide you with a quick burst of energy.

This quick burst of energy, however, is the cause of a sharp increase in your blood sugar levels.

And we all know the old ‘what goes up must come down’ rule, right?

By sharply elevating your blood sugar first thing in the morning, you’ve set yourself up for a day of energy highs and lows, as your body responds to the constant carbs you’re providing it with.

A better alternative would be to fuel your body with protein, healthy fats, and fibre – all of which will provide more sustainable energy levels.

For example, instead of grabbing a bowl of cereal for breakfast, you could scramble a few eggs with some spinach and mushrooms. Or, if you’re in a rush, prepare a protein shake with a handful of kale and half an avocado blended in.

Instead of Subway for lunch, you could have a homemade, wholewheat tuna and avocado wrap, or a beef and feta cheese salad. And, choosing a mixture of almonds and walnuts for your afternoon snack over a cookie will also contribute to you not swinging between hyperactive and lethargic tendencies every couple of hours.

2) Regulate Your Caffeine Intake

Coffee is awesome, and when had in moderation, offers a plethora of health and performance benefits.

If however, you’re downing multiple cups per day in order to keep your eyes open? Then you’ve taken your caffeine dependence a touch too far, and your fluctuating energy levels will attest to it.

We’ve just gone over the ‘what goes up…’ rule, so it’s probably not necessary to elaborate as to why excessive coffee consumption might be negatively affecting your consistency of energy…

Although it’s probably important to note that the more caffeine you ingest, the higher your tolerance will become for it, meaning you’ll need a higher and higher dose to ‘chase the dragon’ if you will.

Because of this, I would advise taking a break from caffeine for a week if you find your elaborately large order is making the barista at your local coffee shop cringe and is costing a small fortune.

Want to avoid an afternoon slump and remain energetic throughout the day? Try to stick with two coffees per day (ideally in the earlier part of the day) and stick with straight black, sugar-free in the best-case scenario, if fat loss is your goal.

3) Increase Your Water Intake

One of the most common reasons for exorbitant caffeine consumption can be attributed to poor hydration.

Not only due to the belief that coffee will quench thirst, but also due to one of the most prominent symptoms of being poorly hydrated – feelings of lethargy and sluggishness.

Inadequate water intake has a hampering effect on both physical and cognitive function, so ingesting sub-optimal levels is a prime suspect in most peoples’ diminishing energy levels in the latter part of the day.

To counteract this I’d recommend buying yourself a nice, BPA free water bottle, and doing the relevant maths in regard to its size so you know how often you need to have finished and refilled it to hit two to three litres of intake per day.

4) Introduce More Movement

No, this isn’t me telling you to get your butt to the gym (that may, or may not be coming up though…).

This is me suggesting (politely), that you avoid long periods of sitting down staring at a computer screen.

I know, I know, staring at a computer screen is your job, but taking ‘mini-breaks’ frequently throughout the day could actually make you more productive.

You see, the movement promotes blood flow and increased energy, sitting down for long periods of time does the exact opposite. So sitting in traffic to get to work, then behind a desk all day before again getting behind the wheel of a car?

That’s going to promote even more lethargy and sluggishness.

So how can you combat this if you work a sedentary job?

Well, you could be the guy that offers to go out and get the morning coffees (only two a day for you though remember!), you could go for a quick walk on your lunch break and chose to use the bathroom a couple of floors up instead of the one in your office.

Even just doing a lap of the office space every hour will contribute to improved energy levels (and fat-loss/ posture), so however you introduce it, don’t be glued to your chair all day!

5) Get Enough Sleep!

This one probably seems so obvious it goes without saying, buuuut even though most people know it, they still aren’t getting nearly enough sleep.

Following every single point above (and the one below) will all contribute to you having improved rest, but it won’t make any difference if you’re only getting into bed at 1 in the morning every night.

Sleep is when your body recovers, and numerous important hormonal and chemical reactions happen in the body.

If you’re not getting enough?

You’ll be signing yourself up for terrible energy levels and mood swings.

Ideally, you’ll want to get between 7 and 9 hours of sleep a night to help aid more sustainable energy levels.

Try to make sure you get to bed 9 hours before you have to wake to ensure you get enough, avoid screens too close to bedtime, and create a ‘dark room’, so that no unnatural lights such as street lamps through the window disrupt your sleep.

You can read more about sleep and how it relates to health and weight loss here.

6) Train

You probably guessed this was coming at some point.

There’s a good reason Sir Richard Branson himself accredits his daily exercise with a large boost in energy and productivity.

Getting to the gym for a session either before, during, or after work will do wonders for improving sustained energy throughout your day.

Now granted, whilst you train? You might get a little more tired!

But the health improvements and post-workout endorphins will pay dividends when it comes to avoiding that nasty mid-afternoon energy slump.

So now you have some strategies you can build into your routine for a more enjoyable, productive day and sustained energy.

Not having to fall onto the sofa as soon as you return home from a busy day opens up a whole new section of your day to enjoy.

So take action on all the points we’ve covered today, and suddenly you’ll find you have the energy to fully take advantage of the 24 hours you’re given (well, 16-ish with the improved sleep!)- plus you’ll find yourself happier and more productive as a result.

And, if you need some help in changing your habits to start making these positive changes in your life? We’re here to help.

We offer both in-person and online personal training to provide the coaching, support, guidance and accountability to ensure your success in making these changes in your life. You can find out more about both of these options by clicking the links provided.