Charge Up for Good Health

Beat Your Afternoon Energy Slump

It''s 3 p.m. and you just want a nap. Get a better at-work energy boost.

More than once I’ve dragged through the midafternoon work slump, wishing I was at one of those too-good-to-be-true tech companies where I could take a time-out for some quick shut-eye. Since that’s not going to happen, it can be tempting (even for a dietitian!) to grab a latte, soda or candy bar from the vending machine. But believe me, the quick energy fix you get from these treats will be short-lived. Worse, these no-brainer munchies often actually leave you feeling even more exhausted an hour later. Caffeine provides a false energy: When the stimulant wears off, sleepiness sets in. And a sugary snack causes you blood sugar (glucose) to spike, making you feel peppy at first but soon leaving you lethargic and moody, as insulin moves in to clear out the extra glucose.

Here’s what I suggest my clients try instead for a quick afternoon energy boost:

1. Reach for a snack, as long as it’s small.
Keep your snacks around 100 to 150 calories. Less than that won’t be satisfying. Too much more and you’ll feel too full to feel energized.

2. Go for fiber.
Fiber fills you up quickly and provides lasting energy. My fiber favorites include:

  • A handful of almonds
  • A small nutrition bar (with at least 3 to 5 grams of fiber)
  • Air-popped popcorn
  • A piece of fruit (high-fiber berries and an apple or pear with the fiber-rich peel left on are the best bets to keep you satisfied)

3. Add protein to power you up.
To keep hunger at bay, consume some protein along with your fiber. Down a yogurt or a glass of fat-free milk with your nuts or popcorn. Or try cheese with whole-grain crackers, or a slice of whole-wheat bread with a few slices of turkey breast. This protein-fiber combo will give you an afternoon energy boost, keep you satisfied until dinnertime and help you stay focused until the day’s done.