It’s mid to late afternoon and it’s starting… dang those sugar cravings! No matter how many times you’ve tried, no matter how much willpower you exert, somehow, the sugar always wins in the end. Know what I mean?
According to the National Sleep Foundation, nearly half of us report an afternoon slump where energy and concentration are challenged. One of the most common reasons for afternoon fatigue is fluctuating blood sugar levels. If too much sugar is released into the body at once, by either waiting too long to eat between meals and/or having high carbohydrate or sweet foods, your body tries to rebalance your blood sugar levels by releasing insulin. This causes your blood sugar levels to first rise and then fall rapidly, leading to a quick burst of energy followed by a deep crash.
Many people experience this in the afternoons, especially after a high carbohydrate laden lunch. And therein lies the afternoon energy slump… you know, those times when you can barely keep your eyes open!
The first step, is, to mindfully choose the kind of lunch to have in the first place (Hint: some good healthy protein with loads of “above-the-ground” veggies). Either way, snacks are key. Yay! When we eat in a way that supports us, we can actually eat more and weigh less.
Snacks bridge the gap between meals and stop that rumbling stomach when lunch and dinner are hours away. They keep your blood sugar stable and your hunger in check so that you’re not raiding the vending machine or gorging everything in sight at your next meal. Snacks are also a great way to get in extra whole foods to ensure that you are getting in the correct nutrients for the day.
So, what kind of snack is the right snack? To keep energy levels up and bridge the gap properly, choose a snack made up of a complex carb, a healthy fat, and clean protein. This combination will increase your energy levels for a longer period of time. If you’ve been part of the “low fat brigade”, know that fat is important too. Not only does your body need it in order to function properly, but it also gives you satiety – that satisfied feeling that is missing when you eat a meal that’s devoid of fat. If you’ve ever had a super lean protein with salad and a non-oil dressing and then thought, “I know I’ve eaten enough to no longer be hungry but I just don’t feel satisfied, it feels like there’s a gap,” then you know exactly what I mean. At times like those, it would be oh so nice to have a yummy dessert just to finish up and feel satisfied, right?
But back to that afternoon slump. It’s the time of day when another cup of coffee or quick sugary snack seems like the perfect way to carry you to the end of the day. Don’t! With this snack list in hand, and a little planning, you can easily push through and run to the finish line. Don’t let that afternoon slump take control of you when you have the power to take control of it instead. Below is a list of my top ten snacks to beat that slump, so arm yourself with the ingredients and knowledge that you have the power to keep your hunger and energy in check all day!
Nine Top Snacks To Prevent The Afternoon Slump
1. A handful of raw unsalted nuts/homemade trail mix – the protein, fibre, and fat is a perfect snack combination
2. 2 cups of mixed raw veggie sticks and 2 tbsp of your favorite dip – hummus, tahini, pesto, etc.
3. Hardboiled egg, ¼ avocado, and tomato drizzled with some olive oil or you might like to try some flavoured olive oil instead – basil oil or chilli oil, for example.
4. ½ cup organic Greek yogurt (or a lactose-free option) with 1 tbsp nut butter, cinnamon, and ½ apple, sliced, OR Greek yogurt with 2 tbsp mixed nuts, seeds, and berries
5. Green smoothie – cucumber, kale, spinach, parsley, celery, lemon ginger, and coconut oil
6. Super smoothie – unsweetened almond milk, ½ banana, 1 tbsp almond butter, protein powder, vanilla, cinnamon, hemp seeds, maca powder/cacao powder, and ice
7. 1 apple, sliced, with 1 tbsp nut butter or coconut butter (yum!)
8. Berries with fresh mint and some almonds
9. Nori seaweed, canned salmon/tuna, avocado, spinach, and cucumber wrap
Oh, and one last thing. When you have your snack, really take some time out to savour every mouthful. Enjoy!