Becoming dependent on that afternoon sugary snack to avoid an energy crash at 3 PM every day is not ideal for focus and productivity.
Let’s talk about how protein can help maintain steady energy levels, and how that can benefit a busy professional during the work day.
What does protein have to do with productivity?
Feeling a little fried in the afternoon can happen for a few reasons. Maybe you’re bored or haven’t been getting enough sleep. Maybe you’re dehydrated. Many times, that 3 PM slump happens because your body needs energy from food.
This is where protein comes in.
Protein helps maintain stable energy
An afternoon snack can give you energy to dodge a crash in the afternoon, but where that energy is coming from matters. It’s normal to crave carbohydrates (sugar) when you’re tired because your body knows it’s a quick source of energy. As we all know, that energy is short-lived. However, the answer isn’t avoiding carbs. You actually need to add protein (and ideally, fat too). Eating balanced meals and snacks, especially with protein, is the best way to stabilize your blood sugar, and therefore energy, between meals.
Protein promotes satiety
Is there anything more distracting than a growling stomach or strong cravings throughout the day? Protein can help with this, too.
Protein helps you feel full even when you’re eating less food. This is because it reduces ghrelin, which is a hormone that makes you feel hungry.
At the same time, protein increases another hormone, peptide YY, that tells your body you’re full.
This means not only do you need to include protein with meals, but snacks too. An apple may seem filling at first, but it won’t last. Pair that apple with even just a little protein from some cheese or peanut butter and you’ll stay full, and therefore on task, much longer.
Finally, protein can help with cravings that happen when you’re not actually hungry.
Cravings, especially for sweets, often happen when your body is looking for a reward. Sugar triggers the release of dopamine, a “reward” hormone in the brain. Protein may improve the function of dopamine and decrease cravings.
A grass fed whey protein shake is a much better option to provide a sustained clean boost in energy without the crash afterward.
How much protein do I need?
Protein needs vary from person to person, depending on your activity level, personal goals, and a variety of health conditions that may require additional protein.
The recommended daily allowance (RDA) for protein is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram body weight. This is the standard, minimum amount that the average healthy person needs to keep up with the body’s basic needs.
To determine if you may need more, use this guide:
- Fat loss: 1.3 – 2.0 grams of protein per kilogram bodyweight
- Muscle gain: 1.4 – 2.2 grams of protein per kilogram bodyweight
- Maintenance: 0.8 – 1.2 grams of protein per kilogram bodyweight
You can also use this protein calculator to get an accurate recommendation for your protein needs. This calculator is based on current research and guides you to a protein goal to fit your needs. Of course it’s best to talk with your provider for the most accurate recommendation.
How can optimising protein help a busy professional?
We love protein for building strength, but this macronutrient is equally important outside of the gym. Protein is involved in structure and processes at a cellular level all over the body.
Optimising your protein intake keeps your mood and energy levels steady throughout the day so you can avoid breaks in focus. In other words, optimising protein can help you optimise productivity.
When is the best time to consume protein?
To keep your energy levels stable, it’s best to consume a steady amount of protein throughout the day. You’ll see a huge difference in your productivity if you include some protein in your breakfast, instead of fuelling up with coffee or a sugary breakfast instead.
The same goes for the rest of the day. If you tend to skip meals or eat quick convenience foods that aren’t great sources of protein, you’ll notice your energy levels start to drop off. To keep productivity high, fuel your body regularly throughout the day.
How to eat enough protein on a busy schedule?
Getting more protein doesn’t require as much work as you might think. No worries if you don’t have the time (or energy) to cook and meal prep more high-protein foods.
Beginning your day with a protein boost is as easy as mixing an egg or some protein powder into your oatmeal. Or make it even simpler and start with a gluten free whey protein shake made with Naked Whey. Each two-scoop serving provides 25 grams of protein to keep you full and energised all morning.
If your busy work day interferes with getting enough protein in the afternoon, opt to drink a shake then instead. If you have a blender in the office or work from home, blend a shake for a super filling, energising mid-afternoon snack.
If you find yourself craving a snack, a nap, or some coffee every afternoon, think about your protein intake. Adding more protein to your day, or eating it more consistently could help you stay energised, satiated, and productive throughout the entire day.
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