Gaining weight because you’ve been snacking more than usual to deal with that afternoon slump? Here’s how to refuel without the additional calories.
We get it, that food coma you go into right after lunch hour isn’t making your work productive at all. And reaching for that bar of chocolate or your second cup of coffee isn’t going to help either. While the sugar gives you an adrenaline rush, you will find that to be short-lived and end up feeling more weary than before. That’s why we spoke to Mandy Wong, a Watsons pharmacist to find out how to stay awake and keep our energy levels high throughout the day.
1. Get your blood pumping
Staying active through regular exercise is a great way to make your heart, lungs and muscles work more efficiently, helping you to feel energised for longer periods of time. If you’re battling a particularly dreary and lethargic day at work, Mandy suggests getting up and taking a walk up and down the stairs. It will get more blood pumping to your brain and help you feel more alert – definitely beats nodding off at your desk. Plus, you get to clock steps and tone your butt.
2. Drink more water
Hydrate yourself regularly throughout the day. Most people are dehydrated without even realising they are, says Mandy. You will be surprised by the wonders of drinking up. When you have sufficient fluids in your body, you will feel less sleepy and more alert. It may even help you get better complexion and look more radiant throughout the day. Most adults should be drinking at least two litres of water a day. One way to make sure you are drinking enough water is to place a one-litre flask by your desk. Top it up at least once, and you would have no trouble guzzling two litres of water a day.
3. Fix your sleep cycle
According to Mandy, many of us do not get sufficient sleep on weeknights, and then try to compensate by sleeping in on weekends. This messes up your sleep cycle and may cause you to have low energy levels on weekdays. Mandy suggests regularising your sleeping hours, whether it’s a weekday or weekend. By making this a habit, your energy levels will remain constant in the day, no matter what day of the week it is.
4. Take a midday nap
Have you been burning the midnight oil to clear unfinished work? Find time to take a quick power nap if possible (10 minutes is better than nothing!). A short snooze will give you an energy boost to help you concentrate better. Be careful not to let your nap exceed 30 minutes, warns Mandy. You don’t want to have trouble falling asleep at night.
5. Eat a healthy and balanced diet
A good gauge of a balanced diet is to have a quarter plate of carbohydrates, a quarter plate of protein and dairy products, and half a plate of fibre, says Mandy. She suggests opting for wholegrain varieties such as wholemeal bread and brown rice. These carbs are loaded with fibre, and will release energy into your body slowly throughout the day – preventing the dreaded food coma. Having fixed meal times will also help your body to adapt and keep your energy levels up till each meal. That means no snacking too. Snacks are often high in fat and may trick your body into thinking it is meal time. If you really need a munch, here are seven best snacks for the office you can have.
6. Replace sugars with natural energy-boosters
Instead of reaching for candies and chocolates, try natural energy-boosters from healthy foods and supplements. According to Mandy, there are natural herbs called adaptogens that can increase your body’s resistance to physical, chemical and biological stressors. Herbs like Siberian ginseng, Rhodiola and Schisandra may help with short-term stress and Asian ginseng have been said to be able to help with chronic stress. These herbs often come in supplements in the market. Alternatively, load up on vitamin B-rich foods like legumes, eggs, fish, poultry and dairy products. Supplements of vitamin B complex can also be readily found in the market.
7. Avoid artificial stimulants
When you get addicted to a daily dose of caffeine, you may develop a tolerance towards it, says Mandy. Overtime, you would require a larger dose to achieve the same effect. Caffeine withdrawals are highly disruptive to your work and life. Mandy’s rule of thumb is to avoid drinking more than four 240ml-cups of coffee a day. Instead of using coffee to start your day, try having a wholesome breakfast and hydrating yourself adequately. This will mitigate the effects of fatigue from the eight-hour fast your body has been through while you were sleeping, says Mandy.