Who’s been here? Actually , it’s more like – who hasn’t been here?
The chunk of time between now and 5:00 seems insurmountable.
Can’t. Go. On.
Tired. Stressed. Drained. Fatigued.
I worked in a corporate office environment out of college and every day at 3:00PM, I would walk to the corner store and buy a Diet Coke and a Clif Bar – because, you know, I’m healthy and stuff.
The Roller Coaster
Some days I felt like I really needed a sweet drink because of deadlines or I just didn’t sleep enough the night before.
And other days, I actually didn’t need a 3PM snack, but I wanted it – because – habits are powerful.
And I would generally feel really good for an hour, and then crash, and then go home and sit on the couch. Because roller coaster rides are exhausting.
Every afternoon, I fully consented to the roller coaster ride. I bought the ticket. I’d been on the ride before. I knew what I was getting myself in to – and I did it anyway. But, I didn’t know any other way.
This 3PM ride high and crash is common, yet can be fairly detrimental to our health.
The Snickers Aftermath
Career : The ebb and flow of energy and emotion can mean decreased productivity, an increased likelihood of burnout and even longer hours caused by making those mistakes when under the influence of Snickers.
Health : The effects of jacked up blood sugar and the subsequent insulin response, along with the increased stress to our body to deal with the processed, refined carbohydrates can lead to things like insulin resistance, inflammation and weight gain.
And, sugar provides pretty much no nutritional value, except calories as a carbohydrate. (1). So, our body is working hard to digest, detoxify and eliminate sugar, but gives us nothing in return. This does not sound like a healthy relationship.
And we think – how the heck did we get here?
No, it’s not that we’re lacking will-power.
Nope, it’s not that we are a bad person or have poor intentions.
Yes, we care about ourselves, our jobs, what we bring to the table.
What led to the 3PM crash?
1) No breakfast or lacking breakfast
How often do we run out the door with a cup of coffee and don’t have breakfast?
Maybe we’re not hungry, or it’s going to take too much time.
Or, our breakfast didn’t include protein or fat– two macronutrients that will keep up satiated.
For me, a bowl of oatmeal would keep me full for 1.5 hours – to the dot on the clock – and then I’d be back fishing in the fridge searching for something to snack on.
2) No lunch or lacking lunch
Crunched for time? Back-to-back meetings? Hello, working world. No one’s got time for lunch!
Or, pizza and a Coke. Blood sugar spike, insulin spike, blood sugar crash – hello corner store and Diet Coke!
3) Not enough water
Reach for water before reaching for a snack. So often we just need a big glass of water – we’re not hungry, just dehydrated.
Hydration is essential to maintain health. Water transports nutrients, removes toxins and curbs hunger. Aim to drink half your weight in ounces of water!
Two cheers for making habits and breaking habits!
It’s difficult to do both, and both require effort and intention. Habits bring comfort – like my ritual of walking down to the corner store to grab a Coke and bar at 3PM – familiar faces, getting out side, a sweet anticipation – these all make breaking habits hard.
Gretchen Rubin, happiness author talks about making and breaking habits and all things happiness.
Stress requires energy.
Haven’t eaten all day? That’s a stress response.
Have a deadline that’s literally making you pull your hair out? That’s a stress response.
When stress occurs, our body produces a stress hormone called cortisol.
One job of cortisol is to restock energy supplies lost during the fight-or-flight response.
Running from a tiger – that’s going to require some energy, don’t you think? Tricky thing is – our body doesn’t know the difference between running from a lion and being under a tight deadline.
Stress = Stress.
What’s the fastest way to get from 0 to 100 in term of energy? Carbohydrates. Especially refined carbohydrates. Because they act fast.
Cortisol increases our craving for sugar and even increases our abdominal fat stores. Because our body is smart.
In the event that we are fighting for our life, either in the jungle running away from a lion, or in the office running away from our boss – our body wants to ensure we have energy stored to endure the fight.
Well, isn’t that the darndest.
The hormone leptin – the hormone that signals to our brain that we’re full – that we’ve had enough to eat – is turned off when we haven’t got our zzz’s.
And the hormone ghrelin – the hormone that signals to our brain that we’re hungry – is ramped up when we haven’t slept our 8-9 hours.
Leptin is a hormone produced by the fat cells in our body. Our hypothalamus releases and regulates our hormones – it commands the endocrine system ship, if you will.
When leptin levels increase, leptin attaches to leptin receptors in the hypothalamus, and your brain sends a signal that you are full. Perfect.
But when we haven’t had enough sleep, our leptin signals decrease, our ghrelin levels increase, and we’re just left hungry.
So, what do we do to curb the 3PM crash?
Start with breakfast : include a protein + fat
- Plain, full-fat yogurt with fresh blueberries and nuts
- Omelet stuffed with sautéed veggies topped with full-fat cheese
- Scrambled eggs with a piece of sausage and side of sauerkraut
- Salad with ALL the veggies, chicken and homemade olive oil & balsamic dressing
- Leftover protein and vegetable from last night’s dinner
- 1 cup of water for every cup of coffee
- Herbal tea
- Sparkling water
- Fruit-infused water
Snack as needed
- Nuts + half apple
- Full-fat yogurt + fresh berries
- Nut butter + banana
And remember, sleep, habit and stress play a role in sustained energy, too!
Here’s to soaring to the top of the ranks with sustained energy and a glass of water and bag of almonds by our side!