ASK THE EXPERTS

Better options than coffee to beat an energy slump

Man at computer looking tired

Advanced sports dietitian Simone Austin shares healthy ways to beat that 3pm energy slump.

Q I often feel sleepy around 3pm, and I also find it hard to concentrate, so I usually end up reaching for a coffee. Does coffee provide any health benefits? Are there other foods I can eat to avoid this energy slump?

R. Singh, via email

A Our bodies tend to want to snooze in the afternoon — look at countries with siestas! The urge usually passes, but it’s best to be prepared and have nourishing foods handy.

Make it something a little special to reduce the urge for a sugary choice. Preferably it will have protein and/or healthy fat and whole grains to keep you full for longer and sustain your energy. How about your favourite crunchy nuts, or tasty cheese with in-season fresh fruit? Maybe sweet berries or fresh figs, grapes or a juicy mango. Snacks can be mini meals: a mug of hearty soup, pot of Bircher muesli, or bowl of salad with salmon.

Or maybe you feel like a pick–me-up coffee. Caffeine is a stimulant that athletes often use for a boost, with some sports nutrition research supporting this. Whether coffee is good for your health is controversial.

A coffee a day is fine, but I wouldn’t take it up looking for health benefits. You can achieve a greater impact by boosting your daily veg intake!

First published: Aug 2021

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