Balancing Meals With Carbohydrate, Protein, and Fat
The mid-afternoon slump. You are probably familiar with the feeling: It’s 2 pm, your eyelids feel heavy, you can’t focus, and all you want to do is take a nap. But you can’t… because you’re at work. Wake up!
Believe it or not, the mid-afternoon (or mid-morning) slump is directly related to what and when we eat. In the middle of a hectic day, many of us are guilty of skipping meals or eating whatever is on hand just to get by. In doing this, we are essentially sabotaging ourselves and making it harder to get through the day.
So why is this happening in the first place? Simply speaking, our bodies’ glucose levels fluctuate throughout the day in response to what we eat (or don’t eat). There may be quick spikes and drops in these fluctuations if our meals aren’t balanced or if we go too long without eating. When this happens, we might feel hungry, jittery, tired or have a difficult time concentrating.
The key is to balance our meals with a good source of the macronutrients carbohydrate, protein, and fat (or CPF as we like to call it here), and to plan regular meals throughout the day with this combination.
Why do we need all three? Well, let’s talk about what happens in our bodies when we eat a meal:
If we were to only have carbohydrates, like a piece of toast or fruit, our blood glucose goes up and comes back down quickly, within the hour if we are having a simple carbohydrate. That drop is what may cause feelings of hunger, lack of energy, or difficulty focusing. And that’s what we want to avoid.
Protein helps. If we have a carbohydrate and protein- like toast and some egg whites for example, this will mute the rise and drop of your blood glucose, but it will still drop eventually causing the same issues as before.
The determining factor in whether your blood glucose will remain even is the last of the 3 macronutrients: fat! If we add fat to our meal- like maybe adding some peanut butter to the toast from before, our blood glucose will stay in target range and the body and brain will remained fueled. And that means… more energy, less moodiness, and an overall happier existence. All through the magic of nutrition!
The infographic below explains it best:
In summary, the key to avoiding the mid-afternoon slump is to balance your meals with carbohydrate, protein, and fat, and have this combination at regular intervals throughout the day. We will talk more about what constitutes a good source of these macronutrients, how often you should be eating, and give you more meal ideas in future posts. Stay tuned!