Eating for Energy At Work: How to Win the Blood Sugar Battle

Posted by on Wednesday, December 18th, 2013 with Comments Off on Eating for Energy At Work: How to Win the Blood Sugar Battle Comments

Picture this: you’re running late for work, so you stop at the corner coffee shop for a latte and a doughnut for breakfast. Half an hour later, the caffeine and sugar have done their trick, and you’re plowing through your inbox with gusto. But by eleven o’clock, you’re exhausted again. What happened to all that energy?

box of doughnuts

This innocent box of pastries could sabotage your energy levels.
Image source: flickr user avlxyz

Essentially, your energy levels have become a casualty of your own body’s natural methods to maintain equilibrium. Processed foods and refined carbohydrates, like those found in white bread, white pasta, and your morning doughnut, are broken down very quickly once eaten. This breakdown results in a burst of glucose flooding into your bloodstream, which raises your blood sugar levels and provides a boost of energy. That’s not so bad, right?

However, the sugar flooding into your blood also causes your body (specifically your pancreas) to release insulin. Insulin is a protein that whisks your excessive glucose away to the cells and resets your blood sugar levels to a more normal state.

This is a natural, healthy process, but when it happens too fast, it results in a quick up-and-down spike in blood sugar that leaves you feeling as though your energy levels crashed. But don’t reach for that bag of M&M’s to get another boost: there’s a better way.

Office worker with a headache

Avoid mid-day energy slumps by switching healthy snacks for sugary ones.
Image source: flickr user Stitch

Eating the right foods at the right times can stop the energy level roller coaster in its tracks. With a little planning, it’s easy to make eating for energy at work part of your office routine.

1) Eat a real breakfast. Unlike the speedy breakdown of simple carbs and sugary treats, protein-rich foods like eggs and Greek yogurt, and complex carbohydrates like oatmeal and whole grains, are broken down slowly, allowing a steady release of glucose into the bloodstream — giving you a consistent energy source throughout the morning. If your office holds staff breakfasts, lobby for whole foods to be incorporated into the menu, rather than just a box of doughnuts or basket of muffins.

2) Stock healthy snacks, and eat them! Grazing on low-fat and fiber-rich foods will keep your blood sugar from dipping too low, helping to maintain energy levels between meals. Plus, you’ll be less likely to overindulge at lunch. At the office, keep a supply of easily accessed snacks on hand: nuts, low-fat string cheese, sliced cucumbers and bell peppers, whole wheat crackers, and almond butter are all great choices.

3) Choose your lunch wisely. If your office uses lunch delivery, avoid pizza, pasta, and other carb-heavy options. Aim for an equal mix of whole grains, vegetables, and protein on your plate: think brown rice, broccoli, and chicken from the Chinese place, or a turkey sandwich on whole-wheat bread with an apple (instead of chips) from the deli. And don’t overdo it at lunch: stop eating once you’re full, and save the rest for a mid-afternoon snack. Harvard’s medical researchers have found that people who eat large lunches are more likely to be tired later in the day.

Bell peppers and cucumbers for a snack

Vegetables provide a sustained source of energy rather than a quick boost.
Image source: flickr user havankevin

4) Most importantly, just eat! Skipping meals is a surefire way to cause your blood sugar and energy levels to drop, and it only becomes more likely that you’ll give in to a bag of cookies from the vending machine when you’re ravenous at 3 pm.

Make eating for energy a priority in the workplace! makes it easy to provide healthy office snacks, healthy catered lunches, and to plan office event menus with energy levels in mind. A few small steps can make a big difference in keeping the entire office more energized and productive throughout the day!

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