When patients tell me about their flagging energy levels mid-afternoon, the first question I ask is what did you eat for lunch? Eating a big, heavy meal that’s high in low-fiber carbs (think pasta, sub sandwich, a bag of chips) can cause changes in blood sugar as well as gut hormones that have been associated with sleepiness.
If you can’t take an afternoon siesta as people in many cultures do around the world, then try decreasing simple carbs and the amount of calories you eat at this meal. Go for protein and complex (high-fiber) carbs. So rather than pasta or a big sandwich, try a salad topped with grilled chicken, fish with vegetables or a small 100 percent whole-wheat tortilla with turkey and lettuce.
When a 2 or 3 p.m. lull kicks in, you should also treat yourself to a protein-rich snack. (A good idea for a late-morning snack as well). A handful of nuts, a low-fat cheese stick, or apple with peanut or almond butter will refuel you with an even burn.
Finally, don’t underestimate the power of a brisk 15-minute afternoon walk to boost your energy.