Yaaaawn. Nothing’s worse for productivity than sleepiness, except maybe Facebook. However, it’s tough to avoid the inevitable food coma that comes after the lunch hour away from the office. You just can’t seem to focus on anything and all you want to do is slump into your chair and zone out.
What we don’t know is that the food we eat at lunch plays a pretty big role in how we feel after. If you alter your food choices at lunch, you could actually go back to the office all pumped up to pump out report after report. Just like the A-Star employee you are (meant to be).
Before we dive into the details, here’s a quick explanation about glycemic index (GI) and how it affects your moods (like sleepiness).
The glycemic index tells you how fast a food which contains carbs will enter your bloodstream and raise your blood glucose consumption, compared to pure sugar.
As a rule, the lower a food’s GI, the less it affects your blood sugar levels. When you eat food with high GI, you’ll experience a sudden spike in your blood sugar levels which causes your pancreas to release insulin. This then triggers tryptophan which gets converted into serotonin in your brain. And serotonin makes you drowsy.
Now that you know the science behind it. Here’s how to stop the afternoon sleepiness.
Stay away from the following:
1. Large meals
Eating a big meal gives your body a lot more work to do in terms of digestion. To digest a large amount of food properly, your body increases the blood flow to your stomach. This results in less oxygen reaching your brain during the digestion process, which causes your drowsiness.
Eat this instead: A low-carb, high-protein combination that suits your palate. We like mixing ours up with servings of steamed tofu, ladies fingers and ginger fish.
2. Simple carbs
Carb play a role in upping your blood sugar levels which eventually leads to drowsiness. So stay away from nasi goreng, banana leaf rice, and other carb-rich dishes.
Eat this instead: Veggies and meat from the economy rice stall.
3. Fast food
Fast food is junk food. They contain enormous amounts of fats, sugars, salts, preservatives and flavour enhancers which tastes great but fills you up with empty calories and no nutrients. The saturated fats and trans fats in fast food diverts the blood and oxygen from your brain and muscles to your digestive system, causing you to fall deep into fatigue.
Eat this instead: A whole-grain sandwich filled with lean meat (like roast chicken) and veggies (like lettuce, mushrooms, onions etc).
There’s nothing like a sugar boost for a quick pick-me-up right? Not really. Studies have shown that sugar inhibits our orexin production. And orexin cells are an important stimulant to induce wakefulness. Most cakes, kuih, ice cream and other desserts are made with lots of sugar, so skip dessert if you want to stay alert for that afternoon meeting.
Eat this instead: Fruits and nuts (they are low in GI but taste sweet and succulent)
What do you do to fight the after-lunch sleepiness? Does your boss allow you to take a quick power nap?