Urgh, it’s only 3 p.m.
It’s only a couple more hours until you can go home and… No. Wait. There’s no relaxing tonight; what, with the list of chores you have to get through before tomorrow (laundry, cooking, helping with homework, prepping for the school bake off, meeting up with a friend you have blow off for weeks now… there’s always something you have to do after a long day at work, isn’t there! It’s no wonder we’re all burning out!).
So, instead of focussing on what you can’t do, your mind wanders to what you can do.
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Caffeine and sugar: good now, oh so bad later
A strong cup of coffee, an energy drink, a packet of gummy sweets, a chocolate bar… anything to keep you going for the next few hours. But, does it ever work the way you want it to? Probably not.
Why? Because the effects are so short-lived. Not only that, these energy kicks often take more of your energy later on than they give you in the moment. Caffeine, the number one culprit.
Caffeine is a tricky one. Initially, it’s great. Use it too often, and it’s not so great 1,2,3. That’s because of its effect on a chemical your body makes to regulate your sleep-wake cycle, called adenosine. Adenosine is produced all day, with its effects being accumulative so that towards the end of the day its receptors are saturated and you get sleepy in preparation for rest.
When you drink caffeine, it blocks the binding of adenosine to its receptor sites. Over time, this can lead to more receptors being made and increased adenosine production in order to regulate your body’s rhythm. When the caffeine wears off, a rush of adenosine binds to the receptors and it can leave you feeling tired.
Add sugar to the mix and things can go drastically downhill from there (yes, we’re talking to you, whipped caramel mocha latte!).
Sugar, in any form causes your blood sugar levels to rise suddenly and you’ll feel like you’re on top of the world, able to push through those last few hours at work and then some. But what happens just a few minutes later? You guessed it: an even bigger crash. Your blood sugar levels drop almost as quickly as they rose, leaving your brain and body confused, and exhausted!
Need to get out of your caffeine and sugar energy crash cycle? We have just the thing!
As with anything, preparation is key. If you’re prepared for that afternoon energy crash, you can prevent it from happening.
And it really doesn’t take much. A little snack that’s on hand when you begin to feel a little slump and you can get your body going again, in a healthy way that gives you sustained energy. That means getting through the last bit of work, and being able to get home to tackle your ‘second job’ of being a wife, mother, friend, sister… whatever it is that needs doing, you’ve got this!
Ok, so snacks:
- A full fat yogurt and some berries.
- A small fistful of nuts and some veggie sticks.
- Hummus and brown rice crackers.
- A fruit and nut butter smoothie.
- Energy balls.
- A small protein shake with a dash of full fat milk.
- A fistful of homemade trail mix.
- A small apple with a spoon of marscapone cheese.
- Turkey, cheese roll ups.
- Chickpeas and cucumber slices.
Use your imagination and come up with your own combinations that has a little bit of natural sugar along with some protein or fat with it to balance out the sugar and prevent that high sugar spike and crash. Make it your mission to be prepared for energy crashes every day and we bet, you won’t even miss that caramel drizzle, vanilla latte with extra sprinkles…
1. Winston AP, Hardwick E, Jaberi N. Neuropsychiatric effects of caffeine. Adv Psychiatr Treat. 2005;11:432–9.
2. Lim, S., & Chia, S. The prevalence of fatigue and associated health and safety risk factors among taxi drivers in Singapore. Singapore Med J. 2015 Feb; 56(2): 92–97.
3. Boolani, A., et al. Predictors of feelings of energy differ from predictors of fatigue. Fatigue: Biomedicine, Health & Behavior. 2019. 7(1):12-18.
4. GIles, G., et al. Sugar intake and expectation effects on cognition and mood. Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology. 2018. 26(3), 302-309.
5. Tremblay, A., & Bellisle, F. Nutrients, satiety, and control of energy intake. Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism, 2015, 40(10): 971-97.