You’ve sometimes noticed that it is suddenly difficult to stop yawning after lunch. Whatever you try, your eyes refuse to simply stay open. The meal, which was supposed to give you energy for the second half of the working day, took you to the dormitory instead.
Even several double espressos cannot fully jerk you to life. However, your goal was completely different. You wanted to return to the office after lunch, as energetic as ever and press on so that the next “employee of the year” award would land on your desk.
Interestingly enough, it often has less to do with unsatisfactory night sleep and more with what you had for lunch.
We can keep ourselves energetic and vibrant with food. We can also do the opposite.
The dish ‘of the day’ is to blame
In fact, there is a very easy explanation for this fatigue you are feeling. And the “guilty” party in all of this is the restaurant that offers a daily lunch menu for near-by employees.
In order to keep the price of your daily lunch meal down, they have to make compromises in the selection of food. In general, this means that most of the dish consists of cheap carbohydrate foods: rice, macaroni, potatoes, and the like.
And exaggeration with carbohydrates is exactly what makes you sleepy. The energy that comes quickly, also leaves as fast as possible. The result is an unfulfilled stomach in addition to fatigue.
That is why you rejoice every time someone comes to work carrying a cake or some candy. Subconsciously, you reach for the sweets.
Wrong food leaves you tired and hungry.
Lunch that keeps you energised
A proper lunch will give you energy for a long time. Your stomach stays full and the piece of cake offered by your colleague only makes you shrug.
It may come as a surprise, it may not, but you will not have to do anything unheard of with your diet to reap the benefits. A few minor changes will suffice.
Bear in mind that in addition to carbohydrates (which in moderate quantities is quite welcome), your lunch is also rich in proteins and fats. An ideal lunch is a combination of carbohydrates (brown rice, potatoes, lentils, buckwheat), proteins (fish, meat, cottage cheese, egg) and fats (oils, avocados, nuts, sour cream). Last but certainly not least, vegetables and salads fit into that mix with ease.
Ultimately, one third of your meal should consist of carbohydrates, another third of protein-rich foods, and the rest of the plate should be filled with vegetables and salads. Amongst sauces, prefer natural ones without added sugar or white flour.
This “combination” ensures that your blood sugar level does not fluctuate like a rollercoaster. Proteins and fats slow down the rate in which carbohydrates are burned in the body, which increases your energy level and helps to keep the sweet tooth under control.
For this very reason, we recommend you avoid snacks made of simple carbohydrates in the middle of the work day. Carbohydrates alone do not fill the stomach. But let’s talk about what snacks to bring to the office some other time.
Written by Heikki Mägi, translation by Silvia Tänav