It’s late afternoon, your mind is wandering and your productivity has come to a screeching halt. If you're like most people, you’ll reach for a cup of coffee or a candy bar to give you some extra energy before leaving the office. Quick-fix solutions such as caffeine and sugar ultimately deplete your energy rather than enhance it. Caffeine can leave you feeling jittery and rob you of restful sleep. Sugar can lead to a post-sugar-high crash. Try these healthy pick-me-ups instead:
Bananas and Watermelon
These fruit favorites boost energy as fast as sugary sweets do. In fact, ripe bananas rate almost as high as table sugar on the energy-upping index. But unlike sugar, fresh fruit gives you a stamina boost plus the nutritional benefits of fiber, vitamins and minerals. An added bonus is that there's no food quite as portable as a banana. Since watermelon can be a bit messy to eat at your desk, cut some into chunks the night before and stash in a plastic container.
Carrots and Potatoes
Just like sugary snacks and soft drinks, carrots and potatoes can up your blood sugar to an all-time high. In fact, mashed and baked potatoes are on a par with pure honey when it comes to how quickly they're digested and absorbed into your bloodstream. But unlike junk food, these supply a host of important nutrients (such as vitamins A and C, folic acid and potassium) along with sustained energy boost. Keep a bag of baby carrots in your desk drawer and you'll be less likely to make an afternoon trip to the vending machine.
Cornflakes and Shredded Wheat
Even without added sugar, wholesome cereals such as muesli, corn flakes, instant oatmeal, puffed rice and shredded wheat top the list of breakfast foods that provide quick energy. These morning eats tend to be digested slowly, which means that blood sugar levels stay stable. Adding skim milk and fruit to the mix helps produce a slow but steady release of glucose into the bloodstream to fuel your muscles and brain throughout the day.
If you're not drinking at least eight cups of water a day, especially in warm weather or if you’re exercising on a regular schedule; you're setting yourself up for dehydration and lagging energy. Don't wait until you feel parched to fill your glass: At that point, your body is already suffering. Make a habit of setting a full glass of water on your desk all day long.