Do you feel like you start the day already behind the eight ball when it comes to energy? A lot of us do, so we count on caffeine, sugar and snacks to help us make it through the day. But it turns out, when we eat and drink can affect energy levels as much as what we eat and drink. If you regularly feel like you could fall asleep after lunch, these easy food fixes can help you better control your energy levels all day long.
These are the habits that could be making you tired, according to dietitians:
- Not caffeinating at the right time - A lot of people feel like they need coffee first thing in the morning to get going, but that can lead to an energy lull by mid-morning. But if you can hold off and wait to have your first cup a little later, like 9 or 10 a.m., it can help keep your energy regulated better so you’re not fighting late afternoon fatigue.
- Eating lunch too late - On busy days, it’s easy to push lunch back until 2 or 3 p.m. or even skip it entirely and graze on snacks instead. But not having a well-balanced meal at lunch can leave you cranky and tired by mid-afternoon, so try to eat a protein-rich lunch to stay well-fueled until dinner.
- Not prioritizing fresh food at lunch - Carb-heavy lunches, like noodles, rice and sandwiches, can have you missing out on the protein and veggies we need to feel full and have energy throughout the afternoon. Balancing the carbs with whole grains and vegetables can help keep you from feeling like you need a nap later in the day.
- Giving into sugar cravings - When your energy is low, you may crave a sweet drink or treat to give you a quick boost, but the more sweet food we eat over time, the more we feel the need for that hit of sugar. And even worse? The pick-me-up effect doesn’t last long, and we can end up feeling worse than we did before we had the sweet coffee drink or candy bar. Once you start relying on sugar for energy, it can be hard to stop, so if you can avoid sweets, you’ll feel more in control of your food intake and be less likely to feel drained in the afternoon.