You’re in an afternoon meeting. Your eyes lose focus on the Powerpoint lighting up the front of the conference room.
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You’re trying to focus on the text, but you find yourself re- reading it a few times before the slide flips. You nudge your trackpad and check the time on your laptop – 2:15. You just want to find a corner to curl up and nap in. Sound familiar? If you’ve ever hit the challenging wall known as the afternoon slump, you’re not alone.
I used to go through this every day. I thought it was normal and I just accepted that this was part of life. Could you believe it if I told you that it’s not normal? You can actually do something to change it and not just try to overcome it with a caffeine jolt? Well, believe it! I can honestly say that I never feel like this way any more. Ever! I have steady, consistent energy throughout the day and I’m a force to be reckoned with in afternoon meetings.
How do you think you can do this? By going to bed an hour earlier? A secret lunchtime shot of tequila? Drugs? The answer is simpler (and more legal) than that. What you eat for lunch will have a direct effect on how the rest of your day goes. By eating specific kinds of carbs, you’re setting yourself up to burn even fuel all day long, and not burn out. Carbs break down into sugar, and as this study shows, there are clear links between sugar consumption and memory and learning impairment. That means we will actually have a harder time remembering what others say and making connections between concepts as a result of sugar!
When you’re functioning at this slower pace, you won’t have the capacity to engage or contribute at all. You’re barely there. This doesn’t happen with specific carbs. In fact the total opposite happens when you implement certain carbs into your diet. That is, complex fibrous carbohydrates.
There are 3 types of carbohydrates – simple carbohydrates, complex carbohydrates, and fibrous carbohydrates.
1. Simple Carbohydrates (sugar, honey, fruit, many breads)
These are the most common in typical diets. The carbohydrate is made up of 1-2 sugar molecules. They break down quickly in your bloodstream.
2. Complex Carbohydrates (rice, oatmeal, pasta, breads)
These carbohydrates are also made up of sugar molecules, but are strung together to form longer, more complex chains. Many of these carbohydrates are refined, such as white bread, white rice, white flour, sugary cereals – they take on the properties of a simple carbohydrate and are broken down quickly. Unrefined complex carbohydrates are the most preferable in this group though they still get broken down into sugar much faster than complex fibrous carbohydrates.
3. Complex Fibrous Carbohydrates (beans, lentils, vegetables)
These carbohydrates are low in calories and full of vitamins, minerals and fiber. Fiber is indigestible which means that much of the food passes right through your body and is not absorbed. This is helpful to keeping your digestive process running clean and healthy and doesn’t spike your blood sugar levels, or trigger as much insulin. It’s a lot easier on your whole system. When you eat complex fibrous carbohydrates on a regular basis, you’re fueling yourself with slowly-releasing and seriously nourishing food, leading to all day energy and totally flooring your co-workers and superiors with your midday gusto and smart, quick contributions.
So what should you eat for lunch in order to have an afternoon of feeling amazing?
A typical lunch for me is usually: A chopped salad with shrimp or chicken, black beans and veggies with either balsamic or red wine vinegar or white fish or chicken with roasted veggies and chickpeas.
You don’t have to feel lethargic and unfocused in the afternoon. From now on you can know what it feels like to be productive and happy all day long; even at work. It’s actually possible and you have the control to change it right now. The best part is, complex fibrous carbs are absolutely delicious.
Imagine yourself, not just engaged, but contributing with insightful points. Your co- workers will be amazed at your vigor as you command the room, approaching the whiteboard with a dry-erase marker in hand and your well-nourished mind brimming with ideas. You can totally rock this on a daily basis. It all comes back to your lunch.