It’s early to mid afternoon. You still have four more hours to work. You’re tired. You look for whatever sugar or caffeine you can find. You wish you could lay down for a nap.
Is this your life?
If it is, you are not alone. That was my life for years as well until I figured out a better way to do things. A way that did not include more caffeine or a nap. A way that did not include altering my training schedule or work schedule. In fact, my new way has me consuming less caffeine and training harder than I was before.
Sound too good to be true?
Yes, in some situations, feeling tired in the middle of the day is due to lack of sleep or lack of quality sleep. Many times, though, the midday slump that we get is more often due to the foods we are eating and/or when we are eating certain foods.
Most times if we assess what we are eating and work to modify things, we can resolve the midday fatigue issue.
The things I typically find that contribute to midday fatigue are:
- Eating too many refined carbs (grains, sugars, processed foods)
- Eating high amounts of carbs in the morning
- Not consuming enough fats
- Not consuming enough calories
Eating too many refined carbs
Refined carbs – grains, added sugars, processed foods – increase the insulin levels in the body. It is a natural process that occurs in order to process the carbohydrates (and also proteins to a point). What happens next, though, is the crash! The sugar crash! This creates a low energy situation. We feel tired, sluggish, like we need a nap. The way we come out of it is to eat more carbs to bring the insulin levels back up. It is a constant up and down battle that can get out of control at times.
Eating high amounts of carbs in the morning
In the United States, it is common to have very carb heavy breakfasts – toast, bagel, cereal, muffins, sugar in coffee or tea. These carbs in the morning start us in the big insulin cycle.
A way to break the cycle is to start the day differently. Starting the day with lower carbs, higher fats, and moderate proteins is a great way to start the day. This will look different for each person, but essentially it is transitioning to veggies for your carbs rather than grains and adding in some healthy fats. It may sound difficult or time consuming, but it really doesn’t have to be if done right. Some simple ideas include a smoothie with a base of spinach, salad with eggs, or an omelet with veggies.
Not consuming enough fats
Many years ago, fats got a bad reputation. We all (yes, I am including myself in this category) switched to low fat diets. It was engrained in all of us that it was the best way to go. Even though research has debunked all that, many people continue to live in that world.
Healthy fats are necessary for our bodies to function properly. They help us to maintain our energy over long periods of time with endurance workouts. They actually help to keep our mental energy and focus. They can help to resolve the brain fog and mental fatigue that can happen in the middle of the day.
Not consuming enough calories (after training in the morning)
A caloric deficit for weight loss is not a bad thing by any means. But we also need enough calories to offset the increased burn from working out in the morning. After training, we need to fuel our bodies to address the energy spent during training and the higher metabolism for a period of time. When you train in the morning, this means you need to top load your calories at the beginning of the day slightly. It doesn’t need to be huge, but a slight bit more than you consume at lunch and dinner. Training for an hour in the morning and then eating a breakfast of 300 calories is typically not going to cut it. It puts you in a huge deficit to start the day and then can create lack of energy in the late morning or early afternoon.
Figuring out the actual cause of your situation can be tricky, it can be a process. Once you figure it out, though, it is so worth the energy gained! Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want help problem solving your situation.
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