Boost Energy Levels at Office Lunches with These Top 5 Whole Grains

Posted by on Wednesday, February 19th, 2014 with Comments Off on Boost Energy Levels at Office Lunches with These Top 5 Whole Grains Comments

One of the simplest ways to feel better all day at the office — more energized, happier, and more productive — is to eat whole grains. Study after study has shown that including whole grains at meals can help prevent the dreaded afternoon energy slump.

tired coworkers around cubicle

Don’t let the 3pm energy slump plague your office!
Image source: Flickr User Lorika13

What makes a whole grain whole? Essentially, its most nutritious parts — the germ, endosperm, and bran — haven’t been removed in processing (unlike what happens to the flour in white bread). Whole grain sources deliver more fiber, vitamins, and other nutrients, but their real attraction for the typical office worker is that they release energy more slowly than their highly-processed cousins. That means less of a blood sugar spike right after lunch, and less of a crash at 3pm. Whole grains are also easy to sneak into your office lunches. Here are a few easy ways to swap in whole grains and do your afternoon energy levels a big favor:

Brown rice — Not only is brown rice rich in nutrients like selenium and niacin, but it has more fiber than white rice. Since fiber slows the rush of glucose into the bloodstream after eating, that means you’ll get a slower release of energy throughout the day — the whole basis for the argument that whole grains promote better energy levels. So in your Chinese takeout box or sushi order, always opt for brown rice. This is probably the easiest swap you can make!

dish of brown rice

Order this alongside your Chinese takeout for a sustained energy source.
Image source: Flickr User roboppy

Quinoa — There’s a reason this grain-like seed (pronounced “keen-wah”) is at the top of many whole-grain lists! Not only is quinoa full of fiber: it’s also high in protein, giving your body a long-lasting source of energy to get through slow-moving afternoons. If you always go for pasta salad or mac & cheese as a side dish, look for a quinoa salad instead.

Bulgur — Its name might not sound as elegant as “quinoa”, but bulgur is a nutritional powerhouse nonetheless. A kind of dried wheat kernel, bulgur is rich in fiber (are you sensing a pattern here?) and also has fairly high levels of B vitamins. If you like Middle Eastern or healthy Mediterranean food, chances are you’ve eaten bulgur: it’s the nutty grain found in tabbouleh, which is delicious and should work its way into your regular lunch rotation!

Whole wheat — Whether part of your deli sandwich, burrito wrapper, or in your pasta bowl, opting for 100-percent whole wheat items is one of the kindest moves you can make for your energy levels. The only trick is asking if the bread, tortilla, or pasta is actually made from 100-percent whole grains: many offerings touted as “made with whole grains” only have a portion of the good stuff, and the rest is made up with the same kind of refined flour in white bread. Remember: just because it’s brown doesn’t mean it’s actually whole wheat.

Popcorn — Yes, it’s true! Popcorn is a whole grain, and when it’s not coated in butter, makes a smart alternative to chips or pretzels as a crunchy side or energy-boosting snack.

popcorn container on desk

Whole grains can pop up in all kinds of unexpected places!
Image source: Flickr User ckschleg

The bottom line is that those afternoon energy slumps aren’t inevitable. Smart office lunches can leave you feeling refreshed and rejuvenated, and is the smart choice to bring wholesome meals into your workplace!

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 — is here to help. From Virtual Cafeteria Service to diverse menus to local takeout & offers customizable dining solutions for every business and budget. Contact us today to get started!

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