Five ways to beat the post lunch slump

How do I stop being tired all the time? It’s an age-old question that we just won’t stop asking. From struggling to open our eyes in the morning to feeling them getting heavy at our desks, it seems nobody can escape the effect of fatigue. People often rely on ‘quick fix’ sugary snacks, coffee and naps to give themselves a much-needed burst of energy, while others regularly order a takeaway instead of cooking homemade food and cancel dates or social events because they’re too tired.

Nutrition plays an important role in energy release and these ‘quick fixes’, takeaways and coffee etc. can exacerbate the repetitive cycle of tiredness and unhealthy habits. Understanding how our body works and how food fuels us can have a great impact on how we feel every day, getting us from sunrise to sunset without experiencing that dreaded slump.

Spatone has teamed up with nutritionist, Sally Wisbey, to provide information and tips on how to sustain your energy throughout the day.

A healthy breakfast can offer many benefits such as providing energy, helping to keep your blood sugar stable throughout the day, and preventing you from snacking later in the day. It is also a good chance to get in some of your fruit and vegetable requirements for the day. Many of the ‘commercial’ breakfasts are not healthy and so a big factor is what you choose to eat. There has also been a lot of talk on intermittent fasting and some people report benefits of not eating breakfast such as feeling more energised, better digestion and maintained weight loss.

However, some that try intermittent fasting or who skip breakfast can report feelings such as fatigue, brain fog, headaches and sugar cravings, which can lead to eating more during the day and gaining weight. One of the issues with reducing the period of time within which you eat in a day is that it is more difficult to consume your required calorie intake. While people looking to be in a calorie deficit to lose weight might find this beneficial, a consistent decrease in calories can have a negative impact on your energy levels. The best idea is to see what works for you and if you are going to have breakfast, make sure it’s balanced and filling!

Timings between meals can vary due to factors such as work and lifestyle. Some people benefit more from eating 5 smaller meals a day, others prefer 3 meals with healthy snacks, and some just 2 or 3 meals. Try not to eat within 3 hours of going to bed to avoid symptoms such as acid reflux and to allow your body time to rest. Meal size also depends on age, weight and other factors but when eating, it is important to include all 3 food groups with a quarter of your plate as protein, a quarter carbohydrates and half of your plate as vegetables, including lots of green leafy veg.

Ensure you eat a balanced lunch, including protein, as this will help keep your blood sugar stable throughout the day and avoid those afternoon slumps. It is also easy to want to snack on sugar for that instant pick-me-up, but this can cause a dip in your blood sugar later, inducing that slump. If you’re feeling peckish, aim for something that includes protein such as oat cakes with peanut butter or dark chocolate with almonds.

Exercise can help boost metabolism by burning calories. It gets the heart rate up, increases oxygen in the blood and releases endorphins, which all help increase energy. Exercise also boosts the production of serotonin, known as the ‘happy hormone’. However, make sure you don’t overdo it as you could fatigue your muscles – recovery and eating enough are just as important. If you are in an office job, then going to the gym at lunch or outside for a walk can help sustain your energy throughout the day.

Having a routine can help encourage a more structured way of eating, preparation is often key when eating healthy. Try doing your weekly shopping at the weekend, grab yourself some reusable food containers and give meal prepping a go. This will help ensure you get the right nutrients every day to sustain your energy levels. It could even save you money.

To produce energy, the body needs fuel coming from food in the form of carbohydrates, protein and fats. Carbohydrates, our main energy source, are converted into glucose (sugar) and are used by the body to provide energy. Various other vitamins and minerals are also key in providing energy, such as iron, magnesium and B vitamins. If you are struggling to figure out what it is you need, maybe try a food diary app for a day or two to give you an idea of what you have been eating and what you might be lacking. As iron contributes to the reduction of tiredness and fatigue (as well as maintaining a healthy immune system), making sure you are getting a sufficient amount in your diet is essential if you want to stay energised all day.