6 Lunchtime Habits To Energize Your Day
If you feel like you need a nap or a cup of coffee after a heavy meal at your desk, then your lunchtime eats may be sabotaging your afternoon creativity. Luckily, there are several simple lunchtime tricks that will leave you feeling energized in the second half of your day. Not only will these tips help boost your productivity, but they will provide the much-needed energy to finally make it to that post-work spin class.
“For me, the key to an energizing lunch is something that's easy-to-pack in the morning and keeps me full throughout my busy afternoon,” says Arizona-based Dietitian, Jennifer Bowers, PhD, RD. To avoid reaching for mid-afternoon potato chips or candy, Bowers suggests packing high-fiber lunch that will keep you full and fuel your afternoon. “My favorite high fiber lunch is a mix of cannellini or garbanzo beans, beets, spinach, farro and sweet potato — it has tons of fiber and vitamins for an added energy boost,” she adds. As a bonus, this bowl can be prepped on a Sunday afternoon, separated into a few containers and eaten for lunch all week.
Although your lunch break may be the only time to relax throughout the day, it’s also a time to take a break from your desk. “Take a walk outside for a dose of fresh air, sunlight and a change of scenery,” suggests Marisa Moore, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist in Atlanta, GA. A few minutes of walking can boost energy and creativity for the rest of the day. If going outside is not an option, Erin Palinski-Wade, RD, CDE, author of 2 Day Diabetes Diet, suggests standing and stretching for a few minutes before digging into your lunch. “This movement can boost circulation and bring oxygen and nutrients to the brain for an instant energy boost,” says Palinski-Wade.
Eat Your Veggies
Good old fashioned vegetables aren’t just great for weight loss and disease prevention. They are also chock-full of vitamins and minerals that can provide a much-needed energy boost. “Though a burger and fries may be calling your name at lunch, it might be your one-way ticket to a midday snooze. Try something equally filling, like vegetable soup plus half a sandwich or a big salad packed with hydrating vegetables,” suggests Moore.
Amp Up the Protein
“Meals containing mostly carbohydrates are digested more quickly, which can lead to energy spikes and then slumps,” says Palinski-Wade. She suggests topping your lunchtime salad with a protein, like chicken, salmon or a hard-boiled egg. Not only does protein help keep you fuller longer, but a “study by Purdue University found adding whole eggs to a veggie-based salad boosts the absorption of vitamin E and other antioxidants in the body,” she adds. In other words, that protein topper helps maximize the nutritional benefits of the heart-healthy vegetables.
Drink an Ice-Cold Glass of Water
You know what drains energy just as much as a big heavy meal? Dehydration. Palinski-Wade suggests drinking an ice-cold glass of water to boost hydration and recharge energy levels. Cold water is more palatable and easier to drink than room temperature water, so opt for ice in your lunchtime beverage. Or try an insulated water bottle that keeps your water cold all day long.
Finish with Tea
“End your meal with green tea or your favorite herbal blend,” suggests Moore. An 8-ounce serving of green tea has about 25 milligrams of caffeine (about 1/3 the amount in a coffee) and is full of antioxidants. Caffeine stays in your system for about 8 hours, so lunchtime may be your last chance to sip it before it interferes with your sleep. “Tea not only adds a hydrating finish to the meal but may offer a moment of focus and mindfulness before getting back to work,” adds Moore. Plus, it’s rather calming to sit with a warm mug of tea and reflect on your day for a minute or two.