Beat the Afternoon Slump

Taking an evidence based approach to weight loss, health, and fitness means using all of the evidence.  Sometimes, I write you an article based on the consensus derived from the latest and greatest research.  Other times, I write based on the “clinical” evidence that comes from 10 years of personal training. 


Today, I am going to share with you some practical lessons learned from a very particular client at the gym…me : )


Yes, while I am the owner, I am also very much a client of On Target Fitness.  It’s not just my job to preach but to live it and I am as human as anyone else.  That said, I’ve figured out some tricks to beat the afternoon slump and I want to share them.  


What is the afternoon slump?  You know.  It’s after lunch time when you can’t stop yawning.  It’s hard to stay focused.  Getting anything done seems impossible.  This is often when people reach for an afternoon coffee.  Unfortunately, drinking coffee late in the day is likely to mess with your sleep.  What do we do?


Some people will say this is entirely caused by a sugar crash from eating sugary foods at lunch.  This can be part of the equation.  But there is a natural lull in your circadian rhythm during this time.  This means that a slight lull might be out of your control.  I am going to focus on what you can do to beat it.


Here is what I got!

  1. Avoid added sugar.  If I have any added sugar at lunch, a sugar crash will definitely make the afternoon slump way worse.  In addition to feeling tired, your sugar crash makes you crave more sugar.  A nice sugary caffeinated drink feels like the perfect fix, even though it will undermine you as soon as the next sugar high gives way to the next sugar crash.  The extra caffeine will also mess with your sleep that evening, further undermining you the next day.  The ONLY way to stop sugar cravings is to stop caving to them.  The less you have it, the less you want it.  Plain and simple.  Save your sugary treats for a weekend day when it might not matter as much if you crash.
  2. Hydrate.  I have been drinking a gallon of water a day lately.  I could almost write an article on this alone but here is the skinny: it really sucked and was darn near impossible for about 4-5 days.  After that, my body adjusted and I get a gallon in easily.  In addition to all the other benefits of drinking plenty of water, I have noticed that I basically don’t get a mid afternoon slump when I’m properly hydrated.  If you aren’t 6’2″ and 210lbs, you might want to shoot for less than a gallon.
  3. No caffeine after 10am.  How does this make me NOT have an afternoon slump? I sleep better and then I don’t get one the next day.  If I am really struggling I might have some *gasp!* decaf coffee.  This helps me in the moment without sacrificing tomorrow.  
  4. Book afternoon phone calls/meetings.  Talking with people tends to wake me up.  I have noticed I never feel the slump when I am talking with someone so I try to book calls or meetings during the slump time.
  5. Quick naps.  Admittedly, I rarely get to do this BUT, this is how it works sometimes.  If I have an hour for lunch, I’m done eating after 20 minutes.  I lay down quietly for 20 minutes.  Maybe I doze off, maybe I don’t.  Either way after the 20 minutes I am feeling sharp like I do during the first half of the day.  
  6. Brilliance at the basics.  Some things aren’t directly tied to the afternoon slump but I have no doubt that being brilliant at the basics helps reduce or even eliminate it.  The healthier you are, the more energy you tend to have.  The basics: getting my workout in, getting my multivitamin in, waking up at the same time every day, and some of the above mentioned basics.  It all counts.  You have more energy when you take care of yourself.  

Remember 2 things from what I am sharing: 1. An ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure (tons of caffeine) when the afternoon slump hits.  2.  There is a natural rhythm to your sleep/wake routine that contributes to this slump.  The key is focusing on what you can control and minimizing self inflicted errors.  


When you are ready to chat with a personal trainer about your goals, fill out the form at the top or bottom of this screen and I will take care of the rest : )


Our first location serves Portsmouth, Kittery, and the broader Seacoast community.  Our new location serves Kingston and the broader southern New Hampshire community.   We help people strength train, walk daily, and eat real food.


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