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Beat The Afternoon Energy Slump

January 24th, 2011 No Comments

Mary Note: When I feel tired around 3pm, I always grab a coffee, but find that it really doesn’t pick me up like I want it to.  Something else I do, which is much more effective, is take the stairs to get my heart pumping a little faster.  That tactic makes Jeff’s list!

— By Jeff Halevy, the MTM Trainer

People tell me all time they get really tired midday.  Their first instinct is to reach for coffee or soda.  NOT a good idea.  There are three keys to staying energized throughout a long day, and I’ve come up with a helpful way for you to remember them.

N + R + G = Energy

N = Nutrition –  R = Rest  –  G = Get going!

Now think about it. N-R-G sounds like “energy.”  Clever aren’t I?!

When you’re feeling tired, use one of these three tactics to get energized instantly!


What you eat not just at lunch, but throughout the day will  affect your PM energy levels.

Eat breakfast, period.

When you skip breakfast you create an energy deficit that can plague you for the whole day. Start with a healthy
breakfast that combines protein, carbohydrates and healthy fat. For women, 300-400 calories and men 500-600. And no skipping carbs; they’re not the enemy!

(e.g. spinach and feta omelet with whole wheat toast;  oatmeal with almonds; a smoothie made from fruits; Greek yogurt and wheat germ)

Drink Water.

The first sign of dehydration is usually fatigue. To keep energy levels up and avoid dehydration we need to make sure we’re taking in adequate fluids — and I don’t mean diet soda. Water is the most preferable form of hydration, and in order to avoid dehydration we must consume at least 2 liters — minimally — though 3 should be a target, throughout the day.

Avoid starch, not carbs altogether.

The foods we eat around lunchtime can drastically affect energy levels. Heavy foods that need a lot of energy for digestion — rich,
fatty foods — and foods that spike and subsequently drop blood sugar — simple carbs and sugars — will totally drain you of energy.

(e.g. fettuccine alfredo; pizza; hero/sub)

Don’t Fill up.

Keep meals small and don’t stuff yourself.  Even if you’re at a nice meal out, eat until you’re full.  Otherwise you’ll want to crawl into bed instead of tackling your to-do list.

Snacking is good.

It’s also important to eat smaller meals, or snacks, throughout the day. These snacks, just like lunch, shouldn’t include simple carbs and sugars which will only make you feel more tired. Healthy snacks should provide some carbs and protein as well.

(e.g.  almonds and raisins; banana and almond butter; raspberries; blueberries and Greek yogurt – combine your sugar with protein)


It’s totally normal to feel a dip in energy in the afternoon due to our natural body clock (circadian rhythm). The dip we feel is from the release of melatonin which makes us sleepy. If you’re already sleep deprived much more likely to be hit hard by this dip. The best way to avoid the energy slump — or at least avoid its severity — is to get eight hours of sleep per night.just like our mothers told us. If your sleep pattern is normal, evidence supports that a short nap — 20 minutes or so, but not much longer — can improve energy levels for the rest of the day.

Get up and at ’em!

Unlike energy drinks and supplements, a quick fix that’s free and good for you is simply getting up — preferably outside — and moving.

1.  Take a walk outside.

Sunlight affects our internal body clock, so when you feel tired get out and get some daylight. Even better is doing so and getting a brisk walk in because.

2.  Exercise.

A short bout of exercise/activity is a great way to boost energy levels. Even if you can’t get outside, do some exercises right at
your desk that circulate blood around the entire body.  Mary has been giving you small challenges to do every day for a week – 100 squats, 20 pushups, 100 crunches –  these are a great example of ways to stay energized.

(e.g. squat, walkout, dips on chair or desk)

3.  Think about your posture.

Poor posture can absolutely zap you of energy. When you sit slumped over the desk, you compress your chest cavity and put extra stress on the neck and back which lead to fatigue. When you sit up correctly, you get deep quality breaths which can alone beat back fatigue.

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