WORKPLACE / SEP. 15, 2014
version 3, draft 3

Your Lunch Could Be Killing Your Productivity

Have you ever wondered why it’s called the "afternoon slump"? Professionals in most fields understand this term as the feeling of sleepiness or drowsiness people get shortly after lunch time. It can also be known as the "food coma".

Most try to solve the issue with more caffeine, soda, or even energy drinks, which may end up giving you a nice sugar high before you come crashing down even harder than before. So what’s causing the lunchtime sleepiness, and how can you combat it?

Don’t eat starches later in the day

Simple carbs such as pasta, rice, potato chips, bread, tortillas and more are all starches that can send you into a food coma after lunch. If you’re thinking about doing that quaint Italian restaurant for lunch, you may want to think again.

These foods--rather, simple carbs that have a higher respiratory quotient--turn into carbon dioxide more quickly than proteins and healthy fats. Carbon dioxide is a big factor in why you feel weak, tired, or sleepy after lunch. 

If you’re determined to have starch for lunch, try opting for the whole wheat or whole grain options.

Try to limit your sodium intake

Foods that are high in sodium or require a lot of salt for flavor increase the water your body retains, meaning you’re left feeling overly full, heavy and tired. Not only that, but high sodium intake can increase your blood pressure. 

Try to stay under the recommended 1800g of sodium per day, and try to get it from whole foods--meaning without adding a ton of salt for flavor. Remember that garlic is an excellent replacement for salt.

Carbonated foods and beverages

Everyone preaches that we should be drinking way more water than soda or other carbonated beverages, and they’re generally right. Carbonated foods and drinks cause your stomach to retain more air than it should, giving you a gassy, bloated feeling. Carbonation can also increase carbon dioxide levels.

Plus, if your carbonated drinks have caffeine in them, you’ll most likely experience a crash later. Combined with all the carbon dioxide in your system, you’ll be left feeling exhausted and unproductive.

If plain water isn’t your thing, try flavoring it with halves of fruits like lemons or berries to add a little zest. You can even freeze the fruits beforehand to have ice cold delicious water.

Take your lunch, but opt for fruits, veggies, and lean protein

Taking your lunch can really cut down on costs associated with buying food every day, but can also limit what you’re allowed to eat. If you’re following a diet or nutrition plan, this step may be essential for your success. Taking your lunch cuts out the temptations of starchy, unhealthy lunches.

To get the most out of your lunch, pack smaller meals made up of fruits and veggies as a side, then chicken breast or turkey as your protein. Not only will these options keep you from feeling heavy and overly full, but they’re packed with the nutrients and vitamins we need to perform at our best.

Creative Commons licensed (BY-NC-ND) flickr photo by Pabo76.

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