The daily energy peaks and troughs of an office worker most often resemble the following:
7 AM: Wake up feeling sluggish- need coffee
7.30 AM: Coffee and cereal does the trick, starting to feel quite good!
10 AM: Getting a little tired again, probably time for another coffee!
12 AM: Lunchtime, will quickly pop down to Subway and get a 6 inch
2 PM: Feeling really sleepy now, I reckon a quick cookie and a coffee from the break room is 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 on the sofa?!
5 PM: Ah, time for a sleepy drive through rush hour traffic
7 PM: Nice big spaghetti bolognese for dinner, beautiful
1 AM: I should probably stop scrolling through Facebook on my smart phone and get some sleep…
The afternoon energy slump is an epidemic.
But, luckily for you, we’ve got a few sure-fire ways to maintain more sustained energy throughout the day. Making you more productive at work, and have the motivation to do more than lounge in front of Netflix once you’re home!
Energy Increase Method One
Centre your meals around Protein, Healthy Fats and Fibre
All macronutrients 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 breads, pastas 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 that in conjunction with coffee (which we’ll get to shortly), is going to provide you with a quick burst of energy.
This quick burst of energy also, 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- or, if you’re in a rush, prepare a protein shake with a handful of kale and half an avocado blended in – see more time saving tips here.
Instead of the 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 biscuit will also contribute to you not swinging between hyperactive and lethargic tendencies every couple of hours.
Energy Increase Method Two
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 effecting 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 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 before too late in the afternoon)- and stick with straight black, sugar-free in the best case scenario, if fat-loss is your goal.
Energy Increase Method Three
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 counter act this I’d recommend buying yourself a nice, BPA free water bottle, and doing the relevant maths in regard to it’s size so you know how often you need to have finished and refilled it to hit three litres of intake per day.
Energy Increase Method Four
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, 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.
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!
Energy Increase Method Five
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 your 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. Read more about sleep.
Energy Increase Method Six
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 a 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 the tools
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.
Life is so fast paced and it feels that almost every minute is filled with having to ‘get stuff done’. It’s very convenient to fuel our body with what we feel will give us a quick energy fix for now. It can also feel that things like exercise and sleep can wait for when the ‘important’ stuff is done. But these aren’t ideal for the long-term.
Tailored nutritional and lifestyle advice are part of all our programmes here at Luke Bremner Fitness so you have the knowledge to start to build healthy and enjoyable habits that will improve your quality of life and make you more productive.
To find our more about our nutrition coaching, programmes and how we can help you achieve your goals, you can book in for your complimentary consultation.