Working in an office all day can be painfully exhausting, and sometimes three cups of coffee just does. Not. Cut. It. There's nothing worse than a midmorning or midafternoon slump, and a few hours can feel as grueling as bumper-to-bumper traffic. Lucky for you, there's a way out! After working in an office for many years, I have discovered these three simple tips are key to staying alert and energized all day long. By the way, no, there's no caffeine involved.
1. Don't Pair Protein With Carbs
Celebrity nutritionist Kimberly Snyder has a really important rule for her beauty detox plan: don't pair protein with carbs. Instead, eat protein with veggies or carbs with veggies and/or fruit, but if you pair protein with carbs, expect to feel drowsy. She explains on a blog post about food combining:
"If I had to isolate the worst [food combining] to violate, it would be 'meat and starch' — as those two foods require very different sets of enzymes and can lead to a lot of digestive difficulty and wasted energy. Animal protein takes a great deal of energy to break down, and should be consumed with veggies and not other dense foods. Examples of combinations that take a lot more work to digest are steak and potatoes and chicken and rice. It would be better to simplify those meals and have rice and veggies or chicken and veggies (if you eat some animal protein)."
When I first read this advice years ago, I really resisted it, because it seemed so extreme. But then, I decided to try it. Instead of a turkey sandwich for lunch, which always left me crawling toward the coffeemaker by 2 p.m., I opted for a salad packed with chicken and avocado. I waited and waited. Nothing but pure, satisfying energy all afternoon long. Yes, you can still have carbs, just not with protein. Try apple with almond butter or avocado toast as a snack, but forgo the carbs for lunch. This all said, I don't always stick to this rule, but I do notice a huge difference when a do, at least during office hours.
2. Work Out During Lunchtime
This is my absolute favorite time to work out. An hour away from your computer screen and desk is pure bliss. Usually there are 30- or 45-minute classes offered at the gym that make it easy to break away. When I get my blood pumping and take a quick post-workout shower, I return to the office feeling more fresh and alert. I always end up being more productive with a break than had I simply stayed at my desk all day.
3. Alternate Between Standing and Sitting
Studies have shown sitting with bad posture makes you feel sleepy, while sitting up straight makes you happier and more productive. Having a standing-sitting desk is a life changer. Changing between standing and sitting every 30 minutes forces me to double-check my posture and realign myself. If you can't get access to a standing desk, try taking a water break every 30 minutes so you can return to your desk and reset your posture each time.