How can you kick the afternoon fatigue that sets in almost daily?

Have you ever noticed that the fatigue sets in mostly, perhaps, while you are working? You might think that’s because you got up earlier, or maybe your work is boring! It might be completely unrelated to the workday woes. Consider what you are doing when you are tired, and what you ate one to three hours prior.

Our bodies are wired to use calories quickly in the morning, which means your breakfast digests into usable energy at a pretty fast rate. Even if you don’t eat breakfast, the body has a natural way of finding energy to burn and keeping the body alert.

After lunch, especially a lunch heavy in carbohydrates, the natural rhythm of the body is to slow down and store. Add on a sedentary position, such as seated at a desk doing paperwork or catching up on the computer, and you have a recipe sure to result in some yawning.

How can this pattern be interrupted? There is a preventative way and a reactive way to deal with afternoon fatigue.

How to prevent the afternoon slump:

If you’re out to lunch, or packing a lunch for tomorrow, focus on lean proteins, veggies, healthy fats and a natural fiber-containing source of sugar, such as dairy or fruit.

Try apple slices dipped in tuna salad with some sunflower seeds sprinkled on top. Or a slice of deli turkey wrapped around a string cheese with baby carrots dipped in hummus on the side. Small portions of protein-rich choices and some fiber help slow your body’s response to energy-rich carbs. That is the recipe for better afternoon energy.

What to do if the afternoon slump is starting to kick in:

If you’ve already eaten and are feeling the fatigue set in, there are things you can do to fight the slump. The two best ways to feel better can be done right at your desk. Grab 8 to 16 ounces of water, and drink it all at once.

Plan B to beat the afternoon blahs is to get up and move. You can stay by your desk, but stand. Rise up on your tiptoes, and release back down. Place hands on hips and try to pull your elbows back towards each other. Squeeze your shoulder blades together. Relax. Now, reach one arm overhead into a side stretch, hold, and switch sides. Take a deep breath in and out, and repeat the series at least twice. Do a few head rolls while you get back to work.

It makes sense that the body wants to rest in the afternoon, but we can interrupt this pattern with diet and activity.

Jill Koegel is a sports-certified registered dietitian, certified personal trainer and owner of Certified Nutrition of Omaha. Jill blogs regularly for livewellnebraska.com.

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