Hands up if you're a coffee addict…
Interestingly, Australia is ranked 42nd in the world for coffee consumption at almost 3kg per capita.
You have productive mornings but as soon as the afternoon hits, your energy level drops. The daily feeling of being tired, sluggish, and running out of energy impacts our motivation and deadlines Instead of reaching for another afternoon coffee, you could combat the 3pm slump, naturally...
Interview with Stephen Eddey, Nutritionist and Naturopath
Question: Is it okay to have a morning coffee or two?
Stephen Eddey: Sure it is. Coffee has some health benefits as coffee is rich in health promoting antioxidants and polyphenols. Most people enjoy coffee for its taste and, let's face it 'pick me up boost'. As caffeine has a half-life (how long it remains in the body) of 3 hours, an early morning coffee shouldn't cause any sleep issues as the caffeine would be effectively metabolised by night time.
Question: How many coffees are too many?
Stephen Eddey: It varies from person to person. When I trained over 20 years ago, coffee was just bad because it stimulated they system. Now we know that there are health benefits to coffee so 3 cups drunk in the morning should be fine. Any more than that and the lingering caffeine can impede effective sleep.
Question: When should our last coffee of the day be and why?
Stephen Eddey: The last coffee for the day should be at lunch time (1pm). As mentioned, after 3 hours, the caffeine portion of the coffee should be half gone from the system and frankly, depending on the type, there isn't a whole load of caffeine in coffee (some stronger coffees may contain more). Coffee increases urine production so we don't want loads of that occurring just before we head to bed either.
Question: Why do our energy levels drop in the afternoon?
Stephen Eddey: There are several factors that cause our energy to slump in the afternoon. Firstly, we may have had a hectic morning at work or with kids. Or, we may have eaten a high carbohydrate meal at lunch, such as bread, and this would have driven the blood sugar levels up. Once the sugar levels rise, the sugar levels can fall, leaving you feeling tired. You also may not have slept well the night before and the afternoon is when it affects people adversely.
Question: How can we combat the 3pm slump without reaching for a coffee?
Stephen Eddey: It is so tempting to run for the quick fix. As I always say with my clients, enjoy coffee because you want to, not because you need to. Avoiding this slump could be as simple as eating a low carbohydrate, fat and protein rich lunch. Other ways including getting some fresh air and go for a lunchtime walk or, gym or swim if you can. This way you get the benefits of exercise, while not feeling tired.
Question: Is there a way to avoid this afternoon slump completely?
Stephen Eddey: Sure. The best option is to fuel your body properly with micro-nutrients and macro-nutrients. Exercise in the morning with a relatively high intensity so as you are more awake during the day. Avoid carbohydrate rich foods at lunch time and, of course, make sure you get a good night sleep the night before. If you are tired, without a good reason, you may have a low thyroid function or may be anaemic. If you suspect this is you, seek medical advice.
Question: How do you boost your energy levels, naturally?
Stephen Eddey: Being healthy as mentioned is always best, but natural energy boosting supplements like Ubiquinol is a personal favourite of mine. Ubiquinol (the active form of CoQ10) taken in the morning with breakfast gives me the boost, along with the suggestions I have made earlier will help get you through the whole day, and not just half of it!
Interview by Brooke Hunter