We don’t call it the graveyard slot for no reason, presenting to a room or running a meeting after lunch always feels like an uphill struggle, laden with coffee and cold caffeinated drinks to keep everyone alert. So why is it a given that you’re going to be barely functioning between the hours of 1 and 3?
Whilst it’s natural for your body to enter the ‘rest and digest’ state after eating. This isn’t ideal when you have a big afternoon meeting. I’ve been there dozing off in an afternoon meeting, head-nodding trying not to look conspicuous… there are ways to reduce this sluggish slump feeling as much as possible; and our choices at lunchtime are largely responsible for this.
When we eat a large meal, rich in carbohydrates, especially refined carbohydrates, it triggers an insulin response in the body. The pancreas releases insulin as sugar enters the bloodstream to store as much of the excess sugar in our liver and muscles for later as possible. This however is one of the keys to giving us that sleepy feeling at our desks in the afternoon. If we munch our way through fast food refined carbohydrates such as french fries, white bread, doughnuts, cakes, and pastries, our blood sugar will increase rapidly. How quickly sugar enters your blood from foods is the Glycaemic Load. These refined carbohydrate sources are very quickly digested. You’ll find yourself buzzing for the rest of your lunch break, then at snooze central as soon as you’re back to work.
So what do we do? Choose low carb high protein? This could also have you nodding due to the amino acid tryptophan. Tryptophan is a precursor to melatonin- the sleepy hormone. Ever wondered why you fall asleep after Christmas dinner? One reason could be the tryptophan of which there are high volumes in protein sources like turkey.
So what should we be having? Go smaller at lunchtime and lighter to minimize that ‘rest and digest’ response, avoid the refined carbohydrates, and very large portions of protein.
Choose lower glycaemic foods: whole grains, ancient grains such as freekeh, quinoa, buckwheat and bulgar will not only add some protein and fibre to your meal, but the addition of these will slow the release of sugar into your bloodstream. Not only does this keep you satiated in the afternoon but moderates blood sugar, meaning no spike in insulin and less head nodding at your desk later on. Sweet treats with a low glycaemic load include berries and citrus fruits. Or pairing dried fruits or chocolate with nuts to keep that blood sugar in check.
Go lighter: A smaller meal with whole grains and some protein will keep the sleepiness at bay, and supplementing this with a snack in the afternoon means that you won’t be too full at any point in the afternoon. Keeping that ‘rest and digest’ away.
Stay Hydrated: this may seem like an obvious one but even I’m guilty of reaching for coffee instead of water a lot of the time. Cold water not only will wake you up but staying hydrated will increase your productivity overall. If you’re one of those people who really doesn’t ‘do’ water (trust me I know a few!) Definitely garnish with copious amounts of mint, citrus and other fruits to keep things interesting and avoid fizzy drinks and coffee.
Get outside: The temptation to eat at our desks working or scrolling through Instagram is strong. But eating outside or at this time of year taking a brisk walk before or after you eat, even if just for 20 minutes will sweep the cobwebs away. If you work from home getting away from your desk for just 10 minutes of yoga and stretching can get the blood flowing and help keep you alert for the hours leading up to clock off!
For more information or bespoke tailored plans to suit your lifestyle, book a consultation or fill out the enquiry form today.