Avoid the Afternoon Slump: The Top 5 Office Lunch Swaps You Can Make for All-Day Energy

Posted by on Thursday, February 6th, 2014 with 1 Comments

We all know the feeling: about an hour and a half after a filling, delicious lunch, you start getting tired. Your concentration wanes, and even though you’re staring right at your work on your computer screen — no Facebook or anything! — you just aren’t getting anything done. Welcome to a well-known office phenomenon: the mid-afternoon energy slump.

What’s the culprit behind this all-too-common daily fatigue? It could be that you didn’t get enough sleep last night, or you’re dealing with stress. But it could also be something as simple as what was on your plate at lunch.

coworker sleeping on desk

Don’t be this guy at the office — choose a smarter lunch.
Image source: flickr user Lordcolus

All foods supply energy, but not in the same way. Foods that are high in simple carbohydrates, like white-flour bread or pasta, candy, and cookies, can give an instant boost to your energy levels, followed by a similarly quick crash, all because your body kicks into overdrive to digest them quickly. On the other hand, foods that are high in fat, such as a double-bacon cheeseburger with French fries, can leave you feeling drained because they take too much work to digest.

What should you be eating? Plenty of protein and complex carbohydrates (like those found in whole grains and starchy vegetables) that digest slowly over time, releasing a steady stream of energy.

Whole wheat turkey sandwich

Whole wheat bread, lean protein, & veggies make for an energy-boosting lunch.
Image source: flickr user rainydayknitter

If you want to improve your energy levels at work, you don’t have to make a radical overhaul to your office lunch routine all at once (and research shows radical diet changes won’t last for most people, anyway). At work, lunch isn’t just a meal: it’s your break, and a time for you to relax and enjoy yourself. So don’t swear off your favorite deli or Chinese place, and only eat dressing-free salads with tasteless chicken breast. Instead, focus on making a few small, energy-boosting swaps to the meals you’re already eating. As you get accustomed to the changes (and notice the positive impact on your energy levels), then you can layer in even more healthy habits.

Before you know it, you’ll be bright-eyed through the afternoon — and sharing your energy-boosting secrets with your coworker who can’t stop nodding off in the afternoon meeting.

1) Lose the refined flour. Cutting back on those white-flour breads is definitely at the top of the priority list when it comes to increasing your afternoon energy. This might mean switching from sourdough to whole wheat bread at the deli, swapping white rice for brown at the Chinese place, or switching your burrito to a tortilla-less bowl.

2) Choose a significant side. By significant, we’re talking something with fiber or nutrients that will help sustain energy and fullness — not just empty calories. Instead of potato chips with your sandwich, opt for cottage cheese or nuts, both good sources of protein. Choose sweet potato fries instead of regular ones for more slowly-digested carbohydrates. And if you have pizza, get a hearty side salad instead of breadsticks.

sweet potato fries

Even choosing sweet potatoes instead of regular fries is a positive step towards all-day energy.
Image source: flickr user Nukelar Burrito

3) Cut out unnecessary fats. Not all fats are bad fats, but having too much fat at lunch will leave you instantly sluggish. Go for spring rolls instead of crispy egg rolls, choose leaner chicken instead of carnitas for your tacos, get mustard instead of mayo, and opt for grilled meat or shrimp instead of fried or “crispy” in any cuisine!

4) Choose dessert wisely. If you have a sweet tooth, don’t ignore it, but be smart about how you end your meal. Berries are one of the best energy-boosting foods, and pair nicely with a small piece of dark chocolate; switching to frozen Greek yogurt topped with fresh berries, a dessert loaded with protein and fiber, is even better!

spring roll on paper plate

Opt for spring rolls instead of heavy, fried egg rolls.
Image source: flickr user ted_major

5) Cut out a quarter. Literally: take one-quarter of your office lunch and save it in the office fridge for an afternoon snack. Even when you eat a smart, balanced lunch, you can manage your energy levels best when you have a few healthy snacks throughout the day.

However you cut it, your office lunch has a direct impact on your energy levels and productivity throughout the workday. That’s why getting wholesome, healthy meals into the office is key — and Waiter.com is here to help. Use our easy online ordering or Virtual Cafeteria Service to ensure everyone in the office has the fuel they need to be at their best!

When it comes to feeding employees and coworkers, make your company's food program really count! If your workplace dining plan needs to take it up a notch — or if you don't have one at all — Waiter.com is here to help. From Virtual Cafeteria Service to diverse menus to local takeout & deliveryWaiter.com offers customizable dining solutions for every business and budget. Contact us today to get started!

One response to “Avoid the Afternoon Slump: The Top 5 Office Lunch Swaps You Can Make for All-Day Energy”

  1. Cori says:

    Love these tips – especially to save a portion of your lunch for later. AND to pick your battles – if I’m indulging in pizza, salad instead of breadsticks. Whole wheat bread for my sub, spring rolls instead of fried eggrolls… GREAT point to keep in mind for future weekly calorie counting 🙂 Fun blog, keep it up.