How To Beat That Afternoon Slump

Quick show of hands: who’s familiar with that 3 pm crash, the inconveniently-timed energy dip affectionately known as the “mid-afternoon slump”?

Yeah, me too.

If a siesta isn’t exactly an option for you in the middle of the day (it certainly isn’t for me), what can you do? There’s always Starbucks of course. Or chocolate. But…know what might work better?


Yep, a recent study has shown this:

An interesting little type of brain cells, called orexin cells, secrete a stimulant that gives us energy. If the activity of these cells decreases, sleepiness results. In a study published in Neuron, researchers looked at the activity of orexin cells in mice. And they found that glucose blocks the function of orexin cells. In contrast…amino acids (the building blocks of protein) keep orexin cells active, and the mice alert.

Now, this is a preliminary study in this field, and was done on mice, not humans. However, while we’re waiting for more research to trickle in, it’s worth a try using protein to boost energy and alertness. Besides, we already know that protein is a great way to regulate blood sugar, stave off the munchies, and control your weight.

Here’s a handy list of quick and yummy protein snacks to keep you zipping through your day:

  • Greek yogurt with a drizzle of honey
  • hard-boiled eggs
  • edamame
  • grilled chicken slices
  • cottage cheese & sliced strawberries
  • string cheese
  • mini can of tuna (lemon/pepper is my favorite)
  • peanut butter and apple slices
  • a snack-baggie of nuts: almonds, walnuts, or your personal fave
  • veggie sticks with hummus

4 Comments on “How To Beat That Afternoon Slump

    • I don’t think that’s been fully established, Michelle, but I imagine it’s pretty individual. If you get to know your own patterns, shoring up on a protein snack an hour or two before you typically crash would be a good idea. I would experiment, though, and see what works best for you.

  1. Dr Kim,

    Thanks for posting this – I was unaware of the activity of orexin cells. That said, I always stick to protein rich meals during the day for the simple reason that I don’t have to worry about blood sugar levels crashing – that’s what leads to the “slump” for me. If I eat small, fiber and protein rich meals regularly, then I don’t have to worry about it.

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