Most dieters don't only want to lose weight; they also want to learn how to be healthy. One of the most pressing daily concerns most people face is soldiering through that mid-afternoon energy slump that leaves them desperate for a 32-ounce cup of coffee (now, unbelievably, available at Starbucks) and the vending machine.
Mid-afternoon fatigue is something we've all had to contend with, and it has serious consequences for our daily lives. People who find themselves fatigued in the afternoon are:
- Likely to let their performance and productivity at work slip.
- Irritable around colleagues and coworkers.
- Likely to reach for quick-fix energy boosters that sabotage their health and wellness goals.
In fact, some research has shown that mental fatigue actually makes your physical workouts less effective, causing damage to your diet beyond the handful of candy you snagged from the break room.
Overcoming the afternoon slump has been a goal of scientists, researchers and dietitians for years, and it's become a billion dollar industry. Energy drinks, energy shots, and herbal supplements line the shelves at drug and grocery stores promising a powerful kick in the pants. Unfortunately, there isn't much evidence that herbal supplements that claim to boost energy actually do. Energy drinks and shots, meanwhile, are heavily reliant on caffeine, so drinking them too much - especially if you're also a tea or coffee drinker - can leave you on edge and jittery, which may be just as bad as feeling sleepy.
If you want to know how to be healthy, learning to boost your energy levels without sugary drinks and snacks is essential. Luckily, there are a few simple steps you can follow that will make afternoon fatigue a thing of the past.
- Exercise: Not that exercise really needed another point in its column, but in addition to helping you burn off the fat and maintain a healthy lifestyle, exercise is a great way to get your blood flowing in the afternoon. If you suffer from midafternoon fatigue, consider adding a brief workout to your mid-day schedule.
- No smoking: Again, not that smoking needed another point against it, but nicotine is a stimulant that contributes to insomnia. Not only will it make you sleepy during the day, cravings for nicotine may actually wake you up in the middle of the night. Avoid at all costs.
- Get some sun: Some of my friends used to joke about how during the winter, we could go days without seeing the sun. In addition to being depressing, spending all day every day under artificial light may also be zapping your energy. Even the briefest glimpse of sunlight during the day improves awareness levels. So take lunch outside, or next to a window, but try to at least get a look at the great outdoors each day.
- Eat regularly and well: Ensuring your body has a steady supply of nutrients throughout the day is a great way to ensure you're energized until bedtime. So don't skip snacks between breakfast, lunch and dinner. And make sure those snacks are fiber rich and low on the glycemic index, since those are the foods that will give you a sustained energy boost.
- Have a light lunch: Anyone who's ever been to Thanksgiving dinner knows that heavy meals make you sleepy. Go for a light lunch: greens, veggies and lean meat.
- Stay hydrated: Fatigue is one of the first symptoms of dehydration. Staying hydrated throughout the day is the cardinal rule for people who know how to be healthy. Make sure, in addition to the coffee and tea you drink throughout the day, that you're getting enough water.