are your hormones happy? here’s what they might be craving.
by team nuut
Smash that slump with expert tips and protein-packed meals.
To think your day started off so well.
After a solid 8 hours of sleep and an early workout, you down a nutritious plant-based protein powder smoothie for breakfast and the best almond latte of your life and are at your desk ready and raring to start the work day.
At mid-morning, you are hitting your productive peak thanks to your stress hormone cortisol and blood pressure soaring in perfect sync. You are smashing deadlines, running ahead of schedule and deciding it's time to stop, take a breather and enjoy your lunch.
Stomach full, and you're back at your desk, and suddenly, you feel it; a significant drop in energy, incoming brain fog and a strong urge to snooze. Welcome to the mid-afternoon energy slump.
Thank your internal body clock - your circadian rhythm. Controlled by the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN), a tiny region at the base of the brain, it signals the body to release the zzz-inducing hormone melatonin at night but also less intensely between 2 pm and 4 pm. Not only has your blood pressure and cortisol levels dropped fast but there has been a shift in circulation to accommodate increased blood flow to the digestive system, which means less blood goes to your brain making your feel tired and groggy. It's a fatigue that is made worse if you have overindulged at lunch or sunk a glass of wine or two.
So what can we do about it (other than say no to that lovely glass of chardonnay?) Because prevention is often better than cure, let's look at how to prevent the dreaded afternoon energy slump, but also, should you get hit by this hormonal tidal wave, how best to regain your groove.
1. Don’t Skip Breakfast
Breakfast is known as 'the most important meal of the day' because it breaks the overnight fasting period, replenishes your supply of glucose required to boost energy levels and alertness and provides your body’s systems with the essential nutrients it needs for optimal wellness.
Start your day by packing as much protein into your breakfast as possible. Without it, your power reserves can drop dramatically, causing blood sugar spikes that affect mood, liver function and immunity, and cause your mind to plummet to hellish, hangry depths resulting in a very bad case of mid-afternoon fatigue.
Whip up a serving of oatmeal and berries, scrambled eggs with spinach and feta, smashed avo and poached eggs, a chia yogurt power bowl, or team nuut’s favourite granola.
Need more inspo? nuut is not only one of the best protein powders in Australia but creates a best-selling range of nutritionist-approved meal plans. Each contains nutrient-dense recipes, including staff go-to, banana bread protein waffles from our 5:2 Intermittent Fasting Meal Plan. Made from bananas, oats, protein-rich nuut vegan protein powder and cinnamon (which is known for supporting blood sugar levels), it is a delicious way to start the day.
2. Eat a well-balanced lunch
There is increasing evidence that a light and protein-rich lunch can mitigate afternoon fatigue with large portions, high-calorie meals, fried foods and saturated animal fats proven to trigger drowsiness.
Give your body the best chance to bounce back at 3 pm with a lunch that includes the magic 1+1+3 ratio: protein, carbohydrates and a selection of three different coloured vegetables.
Try poached chicken and sweet potatoes with kale, beetroot and steamed carrots or salmon, brown rice, lettuce, tomatoes and cucumber. It will give you all the physical energy your body needs to power on to dinnertime. Follow a vegan diet? Swap out the salmon and chicken for lentils or tofu.
3. Snack Smart
Don't cave to your sugar cravings, instead look to healthy and satisfying snacks that boost energy and productivity. Processed foods like chips, chocolate, and biscuits, give you a short-lived boost but perpetuate the dreaded mid-afternoon snooze fest later.
Sustained energy throughout the day is achieved with snacks rich in protein, fibre, and healthy fats. Here are some tried and tested energy boosters:
• veggie chips + avo dip
• honey roasted chickpeas with sea salt
• carrot + hummus
• turkey roll-ups
• string cheese + whole-wheat crackers
• cottage cheese + berries
• peanut butter celery sticks.
• hard-boiled egg + hummus + crackers
Too time-poor to cook? nuut vegan protein powder is chock-full of satisfying protein and is easy to pack and take with you. Our mini sachets are designed to fit in a handbag, pocket, or tote bag and are simply mixed with water or plant-based milk for a protein-rich snack on-the-run! Formuated using 100% plant-based powdered nourishment and a whopping one third of your daily dietary requirements, nuut is fortifying, unfussy and straight-up yum! Head to our recipe page for great ideas on how to swap up your nuut in endless delicious ways.
4. Monitor your caffeine intake
As much as we love coffee, caffeine is a stimulant, and gives you a short-lived energy boost. While the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), says around 4 cups of coffee is perfectly healthy for most adults, we all respond and breakdown caffeine differently. Too much caffeine can upset your sleep patterns at night, give you the jitters and increase your anxiety, so listen to your body and reduce your caffeine intake accordingly and only ever drink before midday.
5. Keep Energy Up - Especially If You Are Deskbound
If you sit at a desk 9-5, you may feel more fatigued than workers on their feet all day. In many cases, a significant cause of the afternoon zzz is dehydration. While sipping caffeine can temporarily boost energy, drinking water throughout the day is much healthier and energising.
Improving your posture by putting your shoulders back and sitting up straight can instantly increase your stamina, reduce stress, and stop you from snoozing on the job. As can playing soft but upbeat background music which is said to help boost memory, focus, and mood. It can also distract you from fatigue, elevate your mood and increase endurance.
Come lunchtime, try stress-relieving activity breaks, like lunchtime walks, meditation and yoga, to help rejuvenate your body and clear your mind. Find a patch of sunlight outside and soak it up. Exposure to sunlight is said to increase the brain's release of the hormone serotonin, which is associated with boosting mood and encouraging calm and focus.