There’s nothing more frustrating than the afternoon slump. If you’ve made the conscious effort to get more sleep but you’re still in struggle street when 3pm arrives, then it’s time to assess other areas of your health. A great place to start is your diet – food plays a major role in our energy levels and mood, and there’s a couple things we can consider.
Our resident Sports Dietitian, Tara Davenport has shared the top four things we can check to help our body and mind feel energised throughout the whole day. Check her tips out below:
Have you eaten breakfast, morning tea, lunch, afternoon tea + dinner?
Why? Cravings are bound to happen when we have been coasting too long on low blood sugar levels. Regular food intake across the day is going to be the first thing that will help reduce future you from the snack attack / raid the vending machine / or the ‘binge’. Particularly if we have trained in the morning, our muscles are looking to refuel a carbohydrate rich food to help replace what it has just been used.
How? Get the timing right. Firstly, eat every 3-4 hours, which for some may look more like every 2.5 - 3 hours (or sooner!). This will also look like: +/- before training and after training followed by 3 main meals + snacks. Be prepared - have pre-training food something you can take with you on the drive, and the after fuel either on the way to work or added to your breaky (could be your medium latte!). Grab ready made meals for every-second day if this helps with consistency.
Have you distributed your protein intake evenly throughout the day?
Why? Protein is a major influence to actually filling up. The typical westernised diet tends to have a low protein intake throughout the day, with dinner being significantly higher. Evenly distributing the serves of protein across the day will help regulate your appetite across the day and avoid the later cravings.
How? The amount will help satiate too. Try aiming for 20-30g of protein for main meals, and 10-15g protein content for snacks. After training, aim for that 20-30g protein at least, and increase if you’re hunger peaks an hour later of eating. Protein rich foods include: meat, fish, tofu, tempeh, eggs, yoghurt, milk and legumes.
Fuelling your body.
Have you eaten enough before and after training?
Why? Fuel before your training will only be beneficial to how much you will be able to get out of your training. You may not need it for every training session take hunger and fatigue level later in the day as a sign. Actively adding in extra nutrition after your training will benefit your recovery, and ensure you’re less likely to be craving / starving later or hangry in the day. It also means, performance in the gym will only improve!
How? Add in carbohydrate rich foods; fruit (fresh/dried/tinned), yoghurt, milk, breads, grains (rice/cous cous/quinoa/barley), noodles, and starchy vegetables (potato/legumes/lentils), frequently across the day. Aiming for an addition to your breakfast or a separate recovery after training. This could look like an extra piece of fruit or yoghurt or adding in another piece of toast or adding milk to the protein shake. Have carbohydrates at each main meal + snacks (this will largely depend on the individual).
Amount of carbs.
Have you included carbohydrates in your lunch?
Why? Lunch being that mid meal of the day, generally is the meal that we have guaranteed time to eat! Carbohydrate rich foods at this meal will help to stabilise blood sugar levels and keep us performing at our best for the rest of the day. It could also be our last carb intake before movement, so this will play a huge role in how heavy we will be able to lift! Carbohydrates that are also nutrient dense; fruit (fresh/dried/tinned), yoghurt, milk, breads, grains (rice/cous cous/quinoa/barley), noodles, and starchy vegetables (potato/legumes/lentils) will help a slower release of energy for the afternoon, rather than other foods that will give us a high for 30 minutes and then we need a nap! Nothing wrong with this, however most of us would find this a tad unhelpful.
How? Make it super simple. Aim for ¼ plate of carbohydrate rich foods at least (again this will depend on the person but our body does need a minimum of fuel to function at it’s best).
If you'd like to know more about fuelling your body correctly, please email Tara at firstname.lastname@example.org or check out her website for further information.