Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Beating that 3pm slump

You know what I mean - that time of the afternoon when lunch has come and gone, you've still got hours ahead of you at work and all you want to do is curl up in the biggest, comfiest bed and eat peanut butter from the jar (fear not, we've all been there).

My thoughts here are that prevention is better than cure and with a few smart changes to your diet and exercise regime you can wave goodbye to this feeling for good. The 'slump' is triggered when the level of glucose in your blood drops and your body produces Cortisol as a defense to prevent it from dropping it even further. This essentially means your body goes into defense mode and your metabolism slows, thus your ability to produce energy slows causing those unwanted feelings of fatigue and increased cravings for sugary foods.

Here's how to beat it;
1 - Little + often
This is my approach to eating everyday - by having a continual intake of Calories throughout the day, your blood sugar remains at a moderate level, so no drop in blood sugars = no slump. The actual amount you need to eat is unique to each of us and is dependent on factors such as age, weight and level of activity. To get a rough idea of your daily calorific needs you can calculate your Basel Metabolic Rate (which uses these measures) and add to that your level of activity - just Google this and you'll find lots of online calculators. Also aim for foods low on the Glycemic index as these help to moderate levels and help to avoid those nasty spikes that will have you reaching for the chocolate following a meal. Protien rich foods take longer to digest and will keep you feeling for longer so by adding a little protein to each meal will help to you going. I eat 6 times per day, usually 2/3 hours apart which means i'm never starving hungry and helps keep those cravings at bay! Keep a stash of healthy snacks nearby which will keep you from choosing an unhealthy option.

2- Move
Sitting at a desk all day is not good for your mental or physical wellbeing. In fact, studies show that your can increase your productivity by up 60% simply by walking around. So, try to find ways to add a little movement into your day. Some tactics that I use include;
- Arriving to the office early and going for a run
- Keeping a one litre bottle of water on my desk that I have to refill at least twice during the day
- Do a class at lunchtime or even go for a walk for 30 mins
- If you drive to the office, park at the furthest point from the door
- Take conscious breaks from your work - even if that's walking away from your desk once every couple of hours for 10 minutes you will find this revitalizes you.
If you struggle with motivation, get others involved too - this really helps!

3- Hydration, Hydration, Hydration
Your body is made up of at least 65% water so keeping hydrated is key to maintaining balance. You are recommended to drink 2 litres of water per day however this should be seen as the minimum and you need to ensure any water lost through exercise is replenished above and beyond this. I aim for four litres per day (which does mean I visit the ladies ALOT) but the benefits far outweigh this. Being hydrated will help you feel more energized and it will also make you feel more satisfied following a meal which in turn will mean you're less likely to crave those nasty sugary snacks that will leave you in a slump in no time. If you get bored of water, try drinking tea's like Green, Peppermint or Lemon. Oranges are also another great source of hydration and are a great boost of vitamin C.

4- Sleep
Your body needs R+R - without it your production of Cortisol will be higher which as discussed is not good! Aim for 8 hours a night, anything less you will not be functioning at your best. Sleep can be disrupted by a drop in glucose levels during the night, so do not go to bed hungry, ensure you've eaten enough before going to bed. Relax before going to bed, Yoga is amazing for this.