Do you ever find yourself in a rush for work and without the time to grab anything to eat before leaving the house? Or do you just go straight to your favourite bakery to pick up a donut or a large caramel latte macchiato with skim milk and whipped cream on top? And only an hour later, you’re probably surprised to find yourself sluggish and unable to focus at work.
We all know that staying energized and focused for eight hours a day can be a hard task. Sometimes, even after having a good night’s sleep, you feel tired and not really able to work. You can, however, eat your way to a more effective day. Read on to learn what to eat to be more productive!
Why food is important
Food is our primary source of energy. It seems pretty simple - we can’t live without food. But this doesn’t mean that we can put anything on our plate and expect to feel great throughout the day. Imagine a cheap battery that you have to charge a few times a day just to keep your phone going. It’s the same with food! Processed foods and bad eating habits can leave you feeling slow and ineffective. That’s why it’s important to follow a balanced and nutritious diet that will keep your energy levels high. By following these tips below, you will increase your productivity at work.
Forget about junk food
The most important factor is to avoid sugar and saturated fats, and make sure to eat unprocessed foods that are low in sugar. Trans and saturated fats found in fast food will make you heavy-eyed, while snacks that are high in sugar will give you a blood sugar spike. This means that you will get a quick energy boost, followed by a crash soon after. If you avoid chocolate bars and soda and instead choose fruits such as bananas and dates or raw bars that only contain natural sugars, you’ll maintain a steady energy level throughout the day.
Drink lots of water
Staying hydrated is another thing we often forget to do. We drink tons of coffee, black tea or sugary drinks that don’t keep us hydrated - rather, they do the exact opposite! Drinking water prevents fatigue and headaches, so keep a big bottle of water on your desk to sip on regularly. An adult should drink around two litres of water every day. Remember, the large macchiato you had this morning doesn’t count! If you don’t like the taste of water, try adding a slice of lemon or a few strawberries to give it more flavour.
Don’t skip breakfast
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, yet this is the meal we seem to skip most. Eating a healthy meal before work wakes up your brain and gives you energy. Having just a cup of coffee for breakfast makes you more likely to crave sugary and processed foods later in the day. A good breakfast starts your metabolism, making you burn off more calories. ;-)
If you don’t have time to make breakfast in the morning, try making overnight oats the night before or preparing ready-made smoothie mixes during your Sunday meal prep. The only thing you’ll need to do in the morning is to blend it all up with some plant milk or coconut water!
Replacing a meal with coffee or skipping lunch entirely is nothing but harmful for our body and mind. Under-eating can often cause mood swings and irritability that make it impossible to focus on your tasks. Not getting enough nutrients can also affect your sleep. This means that you can feel either constantly sleepy or you can’t sleep at all. Make sure to eat enough calories to ensure that you feel energized and able to work.
Low calorie intake can not only make you feel sluggish, but also lead to serious health problems. You might think it’s a paradox, but under-eating can actually make you gain weight!
Listen to your body
Our body often sends signals to our brain that something is wrong or that we are lacking something. Try learning to listen to your body. A headache doesn’t have to be the result of a stressful conversation with your boss. Maybe you’re just thirsty or hungry. Listening to our body is tough when we constantly give it processed and sugary foods and drinks and don’t fight our bad habits. The more you treat yourself to wholesome foods, fruits and vegetables, the more likely you’re going to know what it is that your body really needs at a given time.
How many meals a day?
The best rule is to eat… when you feel hungry! ;-) Sometimes, however, this can be hard when you’re busy working and don’t notice the time passing by. Suddenly, you realize that you haven’t eaten anything, and it’s already way past lunchtime. How can you avoid that? Here are some tips:
Eat at least three times a day. There is no golden rule as to how many meals you should eat every day, but three seems reasonable. Eating regularly keeps your energy levels high throughout the day and helps you keep control of your portions. If you just have one big meal a day, you’re more likely to feel sleepy and unproductive.
Try maintaining a 12-hour break from food after your last meal. If you have dinner at 8PM, don’t eat your breakfast before 8AM. This gives your body enough time to digest and prepare for the next day.
Eat well-balanced meals. Don’t follow low-fat, high-carb, low-carb or high-protein diets. All three macronutrients are essential to maintain good health. Limiting your intake of one of them can cause your body to fight back, e.g., if you don’t eat enough healthy fats, you might gain weight. If you eat too many carbs in the form of sugar or white breads and pasta, your body will start storing it as fat.
What’s more, if each your meal consists of a portion of fruits and/or vegetables, protein, carbs and fats, you won’t need to snack in between meals - you will stay satiated.