Want to avoid an afternoon slump at work? Ditch refined carbs and snacks that are high in sugar, and stick to foods rich in nutrients such as protein, B vitamins and healthy fats.
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We’ve all experienced the dreaded mid-afternoon slump.
After lunch, it can sometimes feel impossible to keep your eyes open at work, even after that fifth cup of coffee.
But there’s hope. Midday energy dips can be a thing of the past with a few simple adjustments to your diet and routine. By making these changes, you’ll be able to get through the day without succumbing to afternoon fatigue.
Afternoon slump: causes and cures
There are many reasons why you might feel an energy dip after lunch. Eating large, heavy portions, dehydration and skipping meals are all potential culprits.
The good news? There’s an easy fix. Following the guidelines listed below can help you combat the mid-afternoon slump.
- Avoiding afternoon tiredness begins at breakfast. Start your day with a hearty, well-balanced meal. Regardless of how much of a rush you’re in, never ever skip breakfast.
- Don’t go crazy with carbs at lunch. Finding the right balance between protein, carbohydrates and fiber in your meals will make all the difference in steering clear of a 3 pm nap time. For the best results, opt for lean or plant-based proteins.
- On that note, be sure to get enough protein at each meal. Protein provides the body with long-lasting energy.
- Eat a snack, but be sure to snack smart. A handful of nuts, homemade trail mix, avocado toast, a hard-boiled egg or Greek yogurt with seeds are all are protein-rich snacks you can enjoy between meals to keep you going strong.
- Stay hydrated! Not getting enough water makes you feel sluggish and contributes to brain fog.
- If you feel sleep creeping up on you, get up and move around. Go for a walk, do some stretches, or simply stand up for a few minutes.
Foods to avoid
The mid-afternoon slump may seem inevitable, but trust us when we say it isn’t. Certain foods will make you more prone to suffering that energy dip.
Refined carbs such as pizzas, pasta, pastries, bread, rice and chips won’t do you any favors. And steer clear of anything high in sugar. Sugar will make your blood sugar spike and your energy levels plummet.
Remember, the vending machine is not your friend. Stay away from energy drinks and caffeinated sodas. While they may serve as a short-term fix, they’re full of sugar and will ultimately lead to a crash. If the siren song of sleep is completely irresistible, opt for a black cup of coffee instead.
Foods that prevent an afternoon slump
Now that you know what to avoid, allow us to introduce you to some of the things you can eat to keep yourself feeling fantastic all day long.
Here are some of our favorite foods for preventing an afternoon slump.
Whole grains, oatmeal, nutritional yeast and vegan cottage cheese
- Replace your refined carbohydrates with complex carbs. Reach for whole grains instead.
- Begin your morning with a bowl of oatmeal, along with fresh blueberries and sliced banana.
- Add nutritional yeast to your daily routine. In addition to being loaded with protein, fortified nutritional yeast contains all of the B vitamins (including the elusive B12).
- If you’re pressed for time, a quick bowl of vegan cottage cheese (made from tofu) with fresh fruit and nuts does the trick. It’s a simple breakfast that will keep you full until your lunch break. Try a smaller portion in between meals if you’re in need of a healthy snack.
Avocados, quinoa, homemade trail mix and buckwheat
- Consume some healthy fats by eating avocado on whole grain toast. The monounsaturated fat from avocados may help improve blood flow.
- Embrace quinoa. This edible seed justly deserves its status as a superfood. Full of protein, fiber, and essential amino acids, quinoa will keep you powered up all afternoon. Whip up a quinoa burger, salad or stir-fry. It’s also a great make-ahead food.
- Homemade trail mix makes an ideal snack. Try using nuts, dried fruit, cacao nibs and seeds.
- Buckwheat is a food that many people value for its high protein content. Cold buckwheat noodles with broccoli and carrots are a tasty lunch that won’t leave you feeling weighed down and nap-prone.
Homemade protein bars, tofu, peanut butter and chickpeas
- Homemade protein bars are healthier options than store-bought options. Making them yourself allows you to customize to your taste preferences and dietary needs. Some of our go-to ingredients are shredded coconut, dates, cinnamon, nutmeg, dried berries, and lemon or orange zest.
- You don’t need to be on a plant-based diet to reap the benefits of a little tofu in your diet. This high-protein food is great in a stir-fry, or sautéed and mixed into a salad or stew.
- Peanut butter is a protein-packed food good for more than just sandwiches. From homemade health bars to a dollop or two to overnight oats, stews or wraps, you’d do well to keep a jar in your cupboard. Skip anything containing added sugars, oils and salt, and pick up a jar of natural peanut butter instead.
- As if you needed another excuse to pick up hummus next time you’re at the supermarket, chickpeas are a delicious source of protein. They also contain a wide variety of nutrients, especially important ones such as iron, vitamin B and magnesium. Falafels are loaded with chickpeas, and they’re delicious in salads.
Tempeh, a revamped burrito, Greek yogurt and broccoli
- Like tofu, tempeh is a soy-based food and an impressive source of protein. Craft a tempeh lemongrass banh mi for lunch to keep the afternoon slump at bay.
- Revamp your burrito. Swap out white rice for brown rice, use a whole wheat tortilla, and fill your burrito with plenty of beans, avocado, cheese and your favorite mix of fresh or roasted veggies. If you eat meat, add some chicken or turkey for some lean protein.
- Greek yogurt makes a fantastic breakfast or snack and may be good for your gut.
- Broccoli is another superfood that will keep you full longer and help give you the stamina you need to get through the day. There are endless options you can play with when it comes to incorporating this cruciferous vegetable in your diet. Meal prep fans may want to try a broccoli cheese quiche, roasted garlic broccoli, broccoli stromboli (use whole wheat pizza dough) or a broccoli casserole.
Brussels sprouts, lentils, soy beans and peas
- Brussels sprouts are high in protein and can deliver you from fatigue, and this vegetable contains a host of nutrients. Try sautéing your sprouts with a little balsamic vinegar and honey to cut their bitterness and give them a tantalizing flavor.
- Lentils are a popular pulse that you can use to make delicious hearty curries or soups.
- Soy beans are packed with protein and are excellent in vegetarian curries, stir-fry and chilis.
- Pass the peas, please! High in protein, fiber and complex carbohydrates, green peas offer significant benefits to your diet. Although they are small, peas are mighty. Add them to your favorite dishes, or pick up some pea protein powder to add to shakes and smoothies.
If you follow these helpful guidelines and stick to protein and fiber-dense foods, you’ll never fall victim to an afternoon energy slump again.
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