10 Strategies to Increase Your Energy & Prevent the “Post-Lunch Energy Crash”

Do you usually get tired around 1-2pm?

Does your motivation/work quality drop off after lunch?

You’re not alone.

Every day, millions of people around the world suffer from the infamous “post-lunch” energy crash.

Today I’m here to deliver some great news your way: this early afternoon energy crash CAN be avoided using some simple strategies.

Yes, it is possible to FEEL GOOD after lunch!

Here are 10 Optimal Living strategies that will keep you rocking high energy levels in the afternoon & help you overcome the dreaded crash.

These strategies might not all work for you, but I suggest you use the same approach as Bruce Lee did for martial arts: try everything, keep what works best for you, and create your own “style”.   

1. Eat More Raw Fruits & Veggies with Lunch

When we cook food, the heat de-activates the food’s enzymes. As a result, our body needs to use its own enzymes for digestion.This makes our body work extra hard and drains our energy.

With each meal, always try to have raw veggies or fruits. Not only are they healthy & packed with nutrients, they will help make the digestion process a lot smoother.

2. Eat Less/No Meat at Lunch

Out of all the foods we eat, meat is the hardest to digest. While fruits take about 30 minutes and vegetables about 1 hour to be digested, meat takes 2 hours or more.

Remember how felt last time you had a big steak? Yeah, that was your body fighting an epic battle to digest all of that cooked protein.

With experience, I’ve noticed that having a vegetarian lunch was much easier to digest & made me feel much better in the afternoon. Give it a try and see how it works for you!

PS: According to John Robbins in Healthy at 100, the world’s longest-lived populations generally eat meat only about twice a week.

Check out YoungAndRaw.com for some awesome meat-free recipe ideas. 

3. Avoid Sugary & High Glycemic Index Foods

The glycemic index of a food refers to how quickly a carbohydrate is converted into glucose and released into the bloodstream.

A high GI lunch (i.e., fast food) will provide you will a quick burst of energy soon followed by a crash.

Some great low GI foods are most fruits & vegetables, lentils, beans, hummus, quinoa, wheat tortilla and nuts & seeds.

You can check out an extensive list of GI levels for different foods right here.

4. Avoid Processed Foods

Processed foods should be avoided as much as possible. Stripped from their nutritional content and filled with weird chemicals, they’re not only bad for our health but also hard to break down because the body doesn’t recognise some of their components.

Skeptical? Watch this video. You’ll be shocked.

5. Chew Really, Really Well

As you understand by now, we need to make it as easy as possible for our body to digest the food. Chewing extremely well is a great way to do that.

Not only does our saliva contain digestive enzymes which starts to break down the food, but by chewing better we make our stomach’s job a lot easier.

Some people advocate chewing a certain number of times but here’s what it comes down to: only swallow your food when you feel like it’s been totally broken down and there are no more chunks.

6. Practice Intermittent Fasting

Want to eliminate the post-lunch energy crash? Skip lunch!

Intermittent fasting is the practice of fasting 14 hours for women, 16 hours for men and eating all of our food in the remaining 10/8 hours.

It offers a wide range of health benefits including increased fatty acid oxidation (our body learns to burn more fat as energy), decreased cortisol levels (less stress), and increased longevity.

To learn more about this great Optimal Living practice, read my article On Becoming Superhuman: Fasting for Fast Weight Loss, Better Health, and Supreme Fitness.

I personally do Intermittent Fasting 2-3 times a week (fasting from 12am to 4pm) and I generally enjoy enhanced mental clarity throughout the fast.

PS: It’s easier to you think! 

7. Drink Less Coffee

Coffee does have its merits, but it also have several downfalls: it’s a highly acidic substance (our body functions better in a slightly alkaline state), it’s a diuretic (it dehydrates us) and the boost in energy it gives us is only temporary.

Drinking coffee is like using a credit card: enjoy now… pay the price later. If you have 2-3 cups of coffee in the morning, you’re bound to feel the crash in the afternoon as the caffeine exits your body.

Try switching to green tea: it packed with antioxidants, it promotes fat loss, its caffeine is released over a longer periods, and it contains the amino acid L-Theanine which has a calming effect while improving concentration (I call it Zen Energy).

8. Eat Cinammon

According to a Swedish study, “cinnamon has been shown to be one of the most effective [herbs and medicinal plants] at regulating blood glucose”. By reducing the spikes in blood glucose, it also helps prevent the ensuing crash.

It also helps us feel fuller longer and it thus a great ally for anyone trying to shed a few pounds.

Try having a cinnamon stick for desert to harness this spice’s great benefits.

9. Practice Hara Hachi Bu

Translated from Japanese, this literally means “eat until you’re 80% full.” Residents of the Japanese Island of Okinawa, who are among the longest-lived and healthiest people in the world, are notorious for this practice.

It takes about 20 minutes for our fullness signs to kick inl, so by stopping eating when we’re 80% full, it gives the “fullness signal” time to catch up.

This practice is highly beneficial to increase our energy but also to lose weight and increase our longevity.

10. Take a Power Nap

If you’ve tried all these strategies and you’re still feeling tired after lunch crash, take a short nap!

Although they’re fairly uncommon for adults in our society, are naps very enjoyable and offer tons of benefits. As a daily napper myself, I can’t recommend them enough.

And don’t feel like you’re “weak” if you need a nap: many great thinkers in history were avid nappers, including Thomas Edison, Winston Churchill, John F. Kennedy, and Napoleon Bonaparte.

Even if you’re at work, why not take a shorter lunch and sneak off for a quick nap in your car? 

***

Ladies & gentlemen, the post-lunch energy crash CAN and SHOULD be avoided.

Apply the strategies above and you’ll be pleasantly surprised by your new energy levels. Your coworkers might even be amazed by your newfound mojo.

Let me know how it goes, and if you have any more ideas please share them!

Here’s to rocking your afternoon! :)

Phil

Please share this post, because that’s how more people can increase their energy levels and enjoy life more!

email
Posted on : 23, Feb 2012

13 Comments

  • Numbers 1 and 3 have made the biggest difference for me in eliminating the afternoon slump. For the past 6 weeks I’ve been completely off grains/processed sugar and usually have a big-ass salad for lunch. The difference is night and day. I used to pound several cups of coffee in the morning, and still find myself reaching for a soda when the helicopter neck rolls set in after lunch. Thankfully I haven’t experienced the cravings or the slump for over a month now.

    That being said, I only wish I worked someplace that gave me time for an afternoon nap!

    • Hey Jay good work on cutting off grains + processed sugar, that’s a big achievement. Glad to hear you’re loving the salad.. Honestly if 2 years ago you had told me I’d be having so many salads I would have said you’re crazy but it’s actually a legit meal!

      Any chance you can sneak off to your car for 15 minutes? :P

  • You’ve talked about intermittent fasting a few times and I have to admit I’m curious about it, but I don’t know how I’d cope. For example, I’ve been up for just over an hour and I’m so hungry! Do you get over that feeling of near-starvation eventually?! How much do you eat in the remaining 8-10 hours?

    I’m totally with you on the green tea thing. I’ve never drunk coffee (never really liked the taste), but I used to have a few cups of tea every day (the English Breakfast variety). I switched to green tea with lemon when we gave up milk last summer. It took a while for me to get used to the taste, but now I love it.

    Thanks for sharing that video. It’s scary. I’m so glad I’m on the road to eating more whole foods and being conscious of everything I eat.

    I’m with Jay on the napping thing! I’d love to nap in the middle of the day, but I don’t think work would be too pleased about it! One day…

    • Hey Rebecca! The greatest secret to IF is that hunger is not linear.. Generally the hungriest I’ll be is 1 hour after waking up but then I’ll have 2-3 cups of green tea and some water and eventually the hunger dissipates and it gets fairly easy… I have n doubt you can do it! Trust me, I used to be the kind of guy who got hungry every 2 hours…

      At the end of the day, what does it cost to try it just once? ;)

      Good job on switching to green tea! It’s so hard to convince ppl from the UK that it’s a smarter choice, english breakfast is so engrained in the culture!

      And yes REAL FOOD is the way to go! It’s what we’re designed to eat!

      HAve a great day!

  • Great post Phil. One of the most important strategies you could have put in there as well is to BREATH. Deepening one’s breath tremendously increases energy levels. That or do a 5 Hour Energy. Though that probably wouldn’t align with your #4.

    • I agree Todd! It’s actually something I use through the day. 2-3 diaphragmatic breaths have an amazing power to energise us… Oxygen is our #1 source of nutrition after all!!

  • Hey Phil,

    Been reading your blog for about two weeks now and love it, thanks! Just wanted to say that I 100% disagree with your statement on not eating meat. Meat is awesome. And if I recall correctly, I came across your blog through Marks Daily Apple so I was quite shocked reading this.

    Eating a fatty piece of animal meat has the saturated fat to give you a boost of energy instead of the contrary. People get the after-lunch crash because of grains, processed foods, and other high GI foods. I don’t see any reasoning behind why not eating meat will give you more energy.

    IF is the way to go — been doing the LeanGains 16 hour a day fast for about 2 months now and it’s become part of my lifestyle. Plus, the first meal of the day tastes awesome :D

    Max

    • Hey Max,

      Thanks for the comment & sharing your opinion. I really believe that for nutrition, each person on this earth has an optimal diet (based on genetics & internal chemistry) and for some, I think a meatless lunch is the way to go.

      Not eating meat will give you more energy simply because the digestion process is shorter. If you’ve done IF, you know how much digestion actually takes out of us. I still eat meat at night, but for me not avoid meat for lunch really does make me feel better, and I’m sure I’m not the only one out there.

      I definitely agree with you about the processed foods & high GI foods are major causes of the energy crash.. That’s actually something I’m going to be write in about soon (I’m taking an online class on hormone optimisation & I’m learning a lot of about leptin & insulin).

      Cheers & keep experimenting!
      Phil

    • I enjoy avacado and it has healthful fats too, but I don’t feel compelled to have it with every meal. Meat is also a nutritious part of the diet, but including it with every meal isn’t necessary. In cases like this (afternoon tiredness) there could be merits to skipping it until the next feed. It’s not equivalent to vegetarianism.

      • Thanks Mike, I agree with you 100%. I used to have meat with every lunch & dinner but I’ve realised that it’s not necessary… for health reasons & energy reasons.. and also if everyone cut down their meat consumption a lot of environmental problems would be alleviated.

  • Just so you know, your picture in this article of cinnamon is not actually cinnamon, but cassia, a relative of cinnamon. Real cinnamon is a lot easier to chew, has a milder smoother flavor, and is better for you!

  • Great article Phil – good content and nicely written, I’ll trying a few of them

So, what do you think?