Better options than coffee to beat an energy slump

Man at computer looking tired

Advanced sports dietitian Simone Austin shares healthy ways to beat that 3pm energy slump.

Q I often feel sleepy around 3pm, and I also find it hard to concentrate, so I usually end up reaching for a coffee. Does coffee provide any health benefits? Are there other foods I can eat to avoid this energy slump?

R. Singh, via email

A Our bodies tend to want to snooze in the afternoon — look at countries with siestas! The urge usually passes, but it’s best to be prepared and have nourishing foods handy.

Make it something a little special to reduce the urge for a sugary choice. Preferably it will have protein and/or healthy fat and whole grains to keep you full for longer and sustain your energy. How about your favourite crunchy nuts, or tasty cheese with in-season fresh fruit? Maybe sweet berries or fresh figs, grapes or a juicy mango. Snacks can be mini meals: a mug of hearty soup, pot of Bircher muesli, or bowl of salad with salmon.

Or maybe you feel like a pick–me-up coffee. Caffeine is a stimulant that athletes often use for a boost, with some sports nutrition research supporting this. Whether coffee is good for your health is controversial.

A coffee a day is fine, but I wouldn’t take it up looking for health benefits. You can achieve a greater impact by boosting your daily veg intake!

First published: Aug 2021

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