Think Coffee Is The Only Solution? 5 Easy Diet And Body Hacks to Keep You Alert At Work
We’ve all been there: mid-morning or mid-afternoon and the attention starts to wander. Little office tasks seem increasingly difficult and the only solution seems to be another cup of coffee.
But before you fill that mug, consider some other simple solutions that will keep your energy levels consistent throughout the day.
A hearty breakfast made up of whole foods, hydration and a few mini-exercises may just be the coffee-alternative you’ve been looking for. Here are 5 easy diet and body hacks that will keep you with having consistent energy all day.
Here’s what we’ll cover:
5 Easy Diet And Body Hacks to Keep You Alert At Work
Don’t let a sedentary job impact your attentiveness at work. With a few lifestyle tweaks you’re going to notice a drastic difference.
1. Focus on Whole Foods, Cut Out the Carbs
Ah, the 3 o’clock slump and your body is telling you it’s sleep time. Many people experience a drop in their energy levels at this time because they’ve had a carb-heavy lunch.
All calories are not created equal. In fact, the way in which our bodies react to protein, fat and carbohydrates (the 3 macro-nutrient categories) is highly variable.
Carbohydrates tend to provide quick, easily digestible energy while proteins and fats imbue the body with a sustained, constant source.
Therein lies perhaps the most basic solution to low energy: less carbs, more energy. Moreover, the energetic cost of digesting these macro-nutrients also differs. Digesting protein takes the most energy, while fats and carbohydrates take less, respectively.
In 1 study, healthy volunteers were given 3 different diets for comparison. These were made up of either:
- high carbohydrate and low protein foods
- low carbohydrate and high protein foods
- or an equal balance of the two
Then, the participants were tested for mental function and concentration 3.5 hours after their meal. In other words, the time most people experience a mid-morning slump at work or start to fade before the day is done.
The volunteers who ate the balanced meal showed the best performance on a cognitive task. Those with a high-carbohydrate meal performed the worst.
A quick switch from the sugary breakfast cereal or pastry to protein-rich whole grain porridge, high-fat fruits like avocado, or protein-rich eggs may make a lasting difference throughout your day.
We all know when we get thirsty. But, the effects of dehydration may be taking hold long before we notice our dry mouth. As the saying goes, “by the time you feel thirsty, you’re already dehydrated.”
But dehydration may do more than change the colour of your urine. The dehydrated brain functions slowly and less accurately than when properly hydrated. This may be one of the reasons why you’re feeling fatigued or as if you’re in a mental fog throughout the day.
If you had less than 2 percent lower than ideal hydration levels you were found to be associated with:
- poor concentration
- an increase in mental errors
- higher tension and anxiety
- a poor mood
In fact, when dehydrated participants were given the same mental exercises as their well-hydrated counterparts, they perceived the exact same task as being significantly more difficult.
That feeling you get when even the smallest work assignment seems like an insurmountable battle? Maybe you’re just thirsty.
Meditation often gets lumped in with reading by candlelight and long fragrant baths as a simple way to unwind and relax.
However, this categorization may be short-changing meditation. Meditation has been shown to increase energy levels and improve mood. Even in small bouts.
Chronic or dedicated practitioners of meditation are known to exhibit better concentration and more stable energy. And recent research has found that even brief, individual meditation sessions may improve mood and focus.
In one comparative study, individuals were asked to perform either a short session of Hatha yoga (conscious movement and meditation), mindfulness meditation (focused meditation without movement) or were told to read.
After 10 minutes, the subjects completed tasks to test their mental function and mood. Compared to reading, the brief Hatha or mindfulness session both significantly improved “executive functions” such as focus, accuracy in test questions and mood.
In other words, they were both significantly better compared to reading. Instead of idly staring at Facebook or looking at the window when your mind starts to wander, try a short meditation to set things back on track.
4. Get Outside
While not everyone has access to the great outdoors at their office, most people are able to step out for a touch of non-recirculated air from time to time.
That feeling you get when you breathe a nice sharp lungful of air that didn’t just get pushed out of a vent? Scientists have actually found that this experience can have lasting effects on your mental state long after you’ve returned indoors.
In fact, just the feeling of being in nature, whether or not you are, can have such an effect.
When people in a study walked outdoors, or went into a virtual simulator of a forest, they experienced a vitalization of their energy levels, focus and an improvement in their mood.
We did, after all, evolve as beings outside of 4 four walls of our offices.
Reconnect with nature, even for just a brief walk at lunch. You’ll quickly find yourself revitalized and ready to tackle the rest of your day.
5. Take Note of Your Desk and Chair
You’re spending a lot of time in that chair and holding your arms in a specific position on that desk. Make sure you have an adjustable chair so you’re sitting at the best possible height.
Check your spine isn’t curving in an unnatural manner or the desk is causing you to hunch forward. You won’t regret asking your leadership team for a better chair as it could mean avoiding the risk getting back pain in the long run.
The Energy Recipe? Key Takeaways
There is no magical, one-size-fits-all solution for addressing low energy levels and focus slumps at work.
But, a few simple modifications to your daily routine might set you on the right track towards a steady, engaged day.
- Start the day with whole foods, rich in protein and fat
- Ditch the sugary breakfast cereal and snacks altogether
- Follow up with plenty of water
- When the meter starts to turn towards empty, try meditation or a brisk walk outdoors
Put that all together and you just may find yourself full of energy throughout the day.