Do you often feel rundown and out of energy in the afternoon? Much of the reason for that can be attributed to our diet, and more specifically do we burn more sugar or fat as our primary fuel source. The diet of our ancestors was established to burn fat as their primary fuel. But with sugar and simple carbohydrates becoming a larger part of the modern diet most of us now use sugar or glucose as our go-to fuel source. And with less fat being burned, more fat is stored, causing weight problems.
How does a person know if he or she is sugar or fat adapted? If you can skip a meal or go for several hours without food and not get irritable, suffer severe hunger or crave sugar or carbohydrates you probably are fat adapted. But if you need a sugar fix when you have an empty stomach and if you don't get it you suffer from those post-lunch blahs, you are at greater risk of a wide range of chronic degenerative diseases.
There are ways to get your body to becoming fat adapted instead of sugar adapted. Here are a few things to consider making sure they're in your lifestyle:
1. Diet. We have to replace carbohydrates with healthy fats, but all carbs are not created equal in the diet we choose. Grains and sugars are harmful carbohydrates and should be as much as possible eliminated from the diet. But they should be replaced by healthy carbs, and those we get from vegetables. Since carbohydrates from vegetables are less dense than those from grains, you have to eat substantially more vegetables to make up the difference.
Then we have to increase our intake of healthy fats. Increasing your caloric intake of healthy fats to a little more than half of total calories should be a goal. Foods that fall into the monounsaturated group are avocados, nuts, olives and olive oil and canola oil. In the polyunsaturated group are omega-3s found in fish and walnuts, flaxseed and pumpkin seeds. Eggs and coconut oil is also good.
The well-known Mediterranean Diet contains both monounsaturated fats as well as omega-3 fats. Eliminating all Trans-fat and reducing saturated fat, which is by the way a vital part of the diet, to less than 10% of your total caloric intake would be a good goal.
2. Exercise. Many experts have placed this as the focus for eliminating afternoon fatigue. Afternoon training is probably the best for most people, but it is probably not the time for pushing yourself to the max. Especially if you work in a high-stress environment, more moderate exercise like yoga might actually help the brain slow down but not become totally relaxed. Use your more high-intensity training for the weekends or after work, but not within three hours of bedtime.
3. Proper sleep. Not getting proper sleep is an obvious culprit to afternoon blahs, but properly addressing diet and exercise issues will go a long way to making sure you get a good night's rest. There are plenty of dos and don'ts on sleep, but the most important one is probably to remain on a regular schedule. This will eliminate having the body guess when it should be the time of day to turn in for the night.