What Should I Eat At Lunch To Avoid A Mid-Afternoon Energy Slump?

Question: What should I eat at lunch to avoid a mid-afternoon energy slump?

Answer: When you're looking at how to avoid that afternoon energy slump, part of what you want to think about is: What are you including with your lunch? The other key, though, is: What are you avoiding with your lunch?

So, you want to avoid things that are very high in fat, things like fried foods, cream sauces, cheese sauces. These require a lot of energy on your body's part to digest, break down and absorb, leaving you tired later. And while you're doing a little bit of carbohydrate for energy, too much carbohydrate can cause that rapid surge of blood sugar followed by that crash a few hours later. So you want to have carbohydrate, but not bigger than the size of your fist for most people. And you want to be sure it's whole grain carbohydrate, so whole wheat pasta, brown rice, whole wheat breads. Those are going to break down slower into energy instead of having this rapid surge and then drop.

The key, though, with lunch is to make sure you have enough protein. A palm-sized portion of lean protein is essential and that's going to be the size of your palm. So for a lot of guys it might be 6 or 8 ounces. So if you're getting a salad it may only have 3 ounces of chicken on it. You might need to ask them to double the chicken to make sure you get enough protein. The protein's going to increase that alertness and that focus. So be sure you've got enough with your lunch.

The last thing is to make sure that you're well-hydrated. So instead of always doing an ice tea or maybe a diet drink at lunch make sure you're drinking water. You're keeping your body hydrated, because the first sign of dehydration is being tired.

Molly Kimball, R.D., Ochsners Elmwood Fitness Center
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