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Eat to Beat the 3 pm Slump

Monday, January 23, 2006 by Alana Gold, Registered Dietitian, News

It’s 3:00 pm, your concentration has plummeted and you feel like your mind has left the building. You need to get through the workday so you ravenously grab for something sweet or a quick caffeine boost to help you stay alert. Instead of relying on quick and unhealthy pick-me-ups that cause an even quicker energy drop, try including energy-rich foods in your diet to beat the afternoon slump.

Slow-cooking oats: A healthy breakfast provides energy for your body after a nightlong fast and slow-cooking oats can help you get your day started right. This healthy grain is an excellent source of fiber to help regulate your blood sugar levels and keep your energy stable. Oats also have energy-rich nutrients such as B vitamins and folic acid. Have slow-cooking oats instead of instant oatmeal, which is high in fast-acting sugar causing a quick energy boost and fast energy crash.

Greens: Whether in a salad bowl or as a green food supplement in a glass, greens are nutritional super foods important for good health and stamina. Greens are an excellent source of vitamin A and a good source of vitamin C, calcium, magnesium and fiber. Leafy greens are energy-boosting foods that should be a part of everyone’s diet.

Fruits: Fruits are super-energizing foods that contain an abundance of healthy vitamins and minerals along with ample fiber. Fiber helps keep you full longer and gives you more energy by controlling blood sugar levels. Oranges, apples and berries are great energizing afternoon snacks to have at your desk. Mix fruits into yogurt or blend fruit, protein powder, soymilk and flaxseeds for a balanced breakfast or snack smoothie.

Whole grains: 100% whole wheat, oat bran, rye, spelt and kamut are called complex carbohydrates. These healthy whole grains provide your body with the energy, B vitamins and fiber it needs. Complex carbohydrates are referred to as low glycemic index foods, which means they are broken down slowly, entering into the bloodstream gradually and causing less insulin to be secreted; simple carbohydrates, such as white flour and white sugar, enter the bloodstream rapidly causing your body to release too much insulin. Excess insulin can lead to feelings of fatigue. For high energy all day long, enjoy whole grains with a low glycemic index rating.

Fish: Fish is a great source of protein that also helps to improve mental energy and performance. Where carbohydrates help to supply your body with energy, fish can provide your brain with energy by improving the ability to think clearly and feel more alert. It is important to eat meals that are balanced in complex carbohydrates, lean proteins such as cold-water fish and healthy fats for optimum functioning of mind, body and spirit. Try eating fish rich in healthy omega-3 fats such as salmon, tuna, mackerel and sardines.

Dried beans, peas and lentils: A common cause of diet-related fatigue is iron-deficiency anemia. Iron is important for making red blood cells that carry oxygen throughout the body. Iron also helps the body make energy; if you do not consume enough iron you will likely feel tired and lethargic. Dried beans, peas and lentils are good sources of iron as are lean meats, iron-fortified cereals, liver, green leafy vegetables, poultry, fish, whole grains, dried fruits and black strap molasses. Vitamin C helps the body absorb the iron from some foods. Try having strawberries with iron-fortified cereal or add oranges slices to a leafy green spinach salad. If you suspect you may have iron-deficiency anemia, see your healthcare practitioner to get your blood levels checked.

Vitamin B-rich foods: B vitamins beat the afternoon slump by being the driving force in releasing the energy from the foods we eat. Without an adequate daily intake of B vitamins, you would feel tired and lagging in energy. B vitamins include thiamin (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), B6, B12 and folate. They can be found in food sources such as whole grains, chicken, lean meats, eggs, milk, legumes, spinach, nuts and seeds.

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