Fed up with that daily mid-afternoon energy crash? Here’s how to keep your day pumped from start to finish.
By Matt Caputo
It’s a cruel joke, having to work almost every day of your life to make a reasonable living. You wake up, shower, dress and bolt out the door — and the only serious step you take to energise your body and mind is that steaming hot cup of coffee you spill on your freshly ironed shirt every morning. Preparing for an active life, however — especially when you train in the evenings after work — is an all-day affair that starts from the moment you roll out of bed and doesn’t stop till you return many hours later. If you’re habitually suffering from the dreaded 2.30pm slump, use the following eight tips to crank up your energy levels and prime yourself to get through another hard day’s office tedium and burn fat and build better muscle at night.
1 / Have clean dreams
l Sleep quality is just as important as the time you spend between the sheets. Showering before bed, regulating room temperature and even snoozing on clean sheets are all critical factors. According to the US National Sleep Foundation, 71 percent of people claim to get a more comfortable night’s sleep on sheets with a fresh scent.
2 / Experiment with breakfast
If you’re waking up to the same old meal every day and then routinely crashing by mid-afternoon, consider a breakfast reboot. In a study published in the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition, high-fibre, carb-rich meals were associated with the highest levels of mental alertness in the hours leading up to lunch. To add fibre and carbs, top a wholewheat English muffin with natural peanut butter, a sliced banana and raisins. To increase protein, a whey protein shake will do the trick. Everyone’s needs are different, so the idea is to experiment and find what works for you.
3 / Stay hydrated
If you think you’re drinking enough water, think again — you can always use more. Even slight dehydration can degrade mental performance, according to a study published in the official journal of the American College of Sports Medicine. Always keep water by your desk and use this formula to determine your H2O requirement: (Body weight in kilograms) x .024 = the number of litres of water you should drink daily.
4 / Avoid a full stomach
l Munch on snacks and small meals throughout the day instead of wolfing down a huge lunch that will put you to sleep as soon as you’re back at your desk. Research acknowledges the drowsiness that can follow a large meal, and one study at the University of Sheffield in England found that meals high in fat produced the same effect. Maintain your focus and avoid the notorious food coma by eating five or six smaller meals a day instead of three big ones.
5 / Take a walk
Getting up from your desk and walking around helps to break up monotonous work patterns and recharge your batteries. In a recent study published in the International Journal of Cognitive Science, researchers found that subjects were able to tackle mundane tasks with more vigour when they engaged in brief, occasional distractions.
6 / Stretch it out
If leaving your work station for a walk isn’t an option, stretching at your desk can be the next best thing. According to the Lymphoma Research Foundation, simple static stretches and range-of-motion exercises can give you that much-needed boost of energy to get you through the afternoon. Carry an elastic resistance band in your briefcase and perform a variety of shoulder, hip and lower-back stretches, or simply get blood flowing by loosening up your range of motion.
7 / Slip in a power nap
Studies have shown that nearly 30 percent of employers say they don’t mind their employees taking short naps during the work day if it makes them more productive. It’s something worth mentioning to your boss, considering that even a 20-minute nap can significantly improve cognitive performance, according to a study published in SLEEP, the official publication of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies. Maybe drop that last part in as an FYI.
8 / Avoid sugar
All office workers are bound to experience a craving for sweets late in the day, especially if they’re on low-carb diets, where discipline slides when energy levels bottom out. But in a study published in Neuron, researchers at the University of Cambridge discovered that protein, not sugar, activates the cells tasked with keeping us awake. Instead of throwing money away at the vending machine, drink a protein shake and get back to work.