You’ve just tucked into a well-deserved lunch in the middle of the day, yet ten minutes in your eyes are struggling to stay open and the overwhelming need to take a nap takes over. Isn’t lunch supposed to give you energy to power through the rest of the day? Are we doing lunch wrong? CocoPro ambassador and Registered Associate Nutritionist Delphine Lim explains why this happens and provides tips to prevent that afternoon slump.
Protein to prevent the post-lunch slump
This is actually a very normal occurrence. After eating, our body breaks down the carbohydrates into sugars (glucose) which is absorbed into our body’s cells by insulin produced in the pancreas. Carbohydrate-rich foods such as bread, pasta, rice and potatoes are associated with an increased secretion of insulin. Refined carbohydrates* in particular lead to excessive secretion of insulin. This surge in insulin triggers our ‘happy’ and ‘sleep’ hormones (serotonin and melatonin) which explains why your desk looks unusually comfortable to cross your arms and snuggle on.
Skipping lunch is obviously not an answer to this dilemma, but making better choices on which type of carbohydrate you eat and balancing it with an ample portion of protein will keep droopy eyelids at bay. Choosing unrefined carbohydrates such as brown rice, multigrain bread, oatmeal, nuts, legumes and non-starch vegetables like brussels sprouts and spinach with help slow the breakdown of carbohydrates into sugars and prevent an insulin surge. Having a portion of protein alongside your carbohydrates will also help slow down the release of sugar in your bloodstream. Ideally, you should have no less than 10g of protein with each meal to help balance your blood sugar levels and supply your body with sustained levels of energy. You should also aim to include 5-10g of protein for each snack to get the same nutritional benefits.
Here are some tips on how to prevent the post-lunch “food-comas”:
- Increase your protein intake during breakfast and have a lighter lunch. Adding protein at the start of your day will help curb appetite and cravings throughout the day.
- Opt for a lighter lunch and add snacks between meals. Choosing protein-rich foods as snacks will keep your energy levels up and keep you fuller for longer.
- Choose unrefined carbohydrates over refined carbohydrates. This will prevent a sharp increase in insulin after eating which helps stabilise sugar being released into the bloodstream.
- Have protein with your carbs in a one-to-two proportion. This will prevent a spike in blood glucose and stabilise the amount of insulin released after eating.
CocoPro high protein coconut water contains 10g of premium whey protein isolate per 330ml carton – a convenient way to add protein to your day either as a snack or supplement to your meal, to prevent the post-lunch blues.
*Refined carbohydrates are carbohydrates that have a low glycaemic index, meaning that they break down easily into glucose in the digestive system. E.g. white bread, sugary drinks and fruit juices.