It’s mid-afternoon and you hit that familiar slump. If you’re like most people, sugar is your stimulant of choice. Starved for energy, you search the break room, scan the vending machine, or rummage through your bag, looking for a beverage or snack that will provide a boost of sugar and or caffeine.
After consuming that pick me up, you feel good for a bit! But that’s followed by an inconvenient blood sugar crash, causing productivity to plummet for those final few hours of work.
Stop Riding the Blood Sugar Roller Coaster
Ingesting carbohydrates brings blood sugar levels up, which is key for energy. However, too much sugar in the blood stresses the body. In a desperate effort to relocate the excess sugar out of the blood after consuming a sugary snack or drink, the body (specifically your pancreas) often sends out an overabundance of the storage hormone insulin. This overreaction causes an unhealthy dip in blood sugar, leading to unpleasant neurological symptoms such as brain fog, a slump in mood, anxiety, and decreased productivity.
So if we see the negative results of consuming excess sugar, why is it so hard to break from that cycle of using unhealthy foods and beverages as energy crutches to get through the workday?
Consuming carbohydrates helps release stored serotonin in the brain. This happy, feel good neurotransmitter improves mood. Your brain is wired to be happy and so it craves that hit of serotonin.
A problem ensues when you go for the wrong type of carb to boost serotonin temporarily. When the brain is low on energy, you likely instinctually grab for the nearest sugary treat, processed snack food, or sweet beverage. Unfortunately, that hit of sugar takes a heavy toll on the brain.
Stabilize Sugar to Boost the Brain
Good quality carbohydrates, such as sweet potatoes, lentils, and apples, contain low amounts of sugar and a lot of fiber. That fiber slows the digestion of these carbohydrates. Therefore, they won’t cause blood sugar levels to skyrocket suddenly. Stable blood sugar leads to a stable brain.
Pairing your whole food carbohydrates with a good quality fat (e.g. avocado, eggs, or nuts) or protein will further support your neurological health. Fat and protein provide long burning energy for the brain (and body). Ingesting them will support your mind’s stamina throughout the work day.
These stabilizing foods also act as brain building blocks by supporting healthy serotonin levels and boosting dopamine. Dopamine acts as the CEO of your brain, helping you to make good decisions, to focus, and to be productive.
#1. Boost breakfast. Eliminate refined carbohydrates from your morning meal. Instead, start your day eating some fat and or protein, which will provide a good launch pad for optimal productivity and focus. Add a whole food carbohydrate to those stabilizing foods if your brain and body feel better with that addition.
- Eat eggs. (You can make hard boiled eggs ahead of time.)
- Try steel cut oatmeal (preferably soaked overnight) topped with a generous helping of real butter, nuts, and cinnamon.
- Warm up (health and hearty) leftovers from last night’s dinner.
#2. Anticipate the mid-morning and mid-afternoon crash. Always have a healthy snack on hand to eat.
- Snack on nuts and a small amount of unsweetened, dried fruit.
- Top an avocado with sea salt and a (clean) hot sauce.
- Pair a cheese stick with a piece of fresh fruit.
Take action with these dietary steps and enjoy your newfound productivity. I encourage you to share these tips with your co-workers or staff to help boost your team at work!