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Thursday, December 11, 2014

Hey Sweetie?

By Jason Brockman

Three o’clock rolls around and your eyelids have started to involuntarily droop.  Is this ptosis?  A general lack of sleep?  Spreadsheet syndrome?  What is your go to snack at times like these?
My first thought or craving invariably involves something sweet.  Jelly beans, leftover birthday cake, or some Mountain Dew always sounds like the right thing to do, but we well know that the temporary sugar high will undoubtedly lead to the crash and burn later on.  According to PepsiCo, one shiny little green 12 ounce can has 46 grams of sugar.  Any trained “sucrologist”, or sugar packet collector could tell you that one standard US sugar packet contains about 2-4 grams of sugar.  That means that one little green can contains a whopping 11 to 23 packets of sugar!  There has to be a better way to maintain alertness and good energy levels throughout the day without increasing your risk of diabetes.

Here are some tips that can help you stay alert, energetic, and engaged throughout your work day.

Tip 1 – Manage Those Amino Acids
As most people know, that post Thanksgiving dinner nap is mostly caused by tryptophan, the sleepy little amino that causes drowsiness.  Tryptophan is also found in high concentrations in bananas, dairy products, sunflower seeds, and beans.  A good strategy would be to limit your snacking on these types of foods when you are not feeling full of energy.  Instead, look for foods that are higher in Tyrosine, the amino that has been linked to alertness!  Shrimp, chicken, soy products, fish,  egg whites, and seaweed are just some examples of foods that have high concentrations.

Tip 2 – Change the order
The order in which you eat different types of foods can have an effect on your energy levels.  You should try to eat proteins before carbohydrates.  Carbohydrates stimulate the release of insulin, and this competes with all of the amino acids except for tryptophan!  A good strategy is to have a good high protein breakfast with only a small serving of a complex carbohydrate (such as a whole grain bagel or oatmeal).  This should keep you going for a few hours.  For lunch have a small high protein, low carb meal to keep your brain active.  Once you get home, a meal that begins with some good complex carbohydrates can help you to relax after a long day. 

Tip 3 – What about coffee?
Coffee is a great drink, and it can help to keep you alert.  There are many studies that promote the health benefits of a good cup of coffee, from the NIH-AARP study that claims to have found a link between coffee drinking and longevity to studies that have found a link between coffee and decreased risk of skin cancer.  So go ahead and have a cup, but be careful.  Drinking too much coffee at one time can cause “caffeine intoxication” that can have some severe withdrawal symptoms.  You are better off drinking about a half a cup of coffee every 2 hours to stay alert than having that big cup of “double level four”  first thing in the morning.

Stay alert, and stay classy! 

Selected Sources

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