Does the barista at your local coffee shop know to expect you for a double shot latte every day around 3 pm? The mid-afternoon slump is real, and sometimes it seems like the only way to make it to the end of the day involves an IV infusion of caffeine.
Sometimes our body really does need coffee to make it through the slump. But that late afternoon caffeine can interfere with sleep that night, causing fatigue the next day, leading to the need for even more caffeine. It’s a vicious cycle.
Instead of immediately turning to coffee, try these other mid-afternoon pick-me-ups.
Earl Grey Cacao Energy Bites (serves 4-6)
- 1 ½ cups dates, pitted
- 2 cups hot earl grey tea
- ¼ cup pecans
- ¼ cup almonds
- ¼ cup cashew butter
- ¼ cup cacao powder
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
For the toppings:
- Cacao nibs
- Flaky sea salt
- Dry mulberries
- Place the dates in the hot brewed earl grey tea and let it soak for about 10-15 min. Strain and save the liquid, place soaked dates in a food processor. Add the rest of the ingredients except for the toppings and pulse a few times to break it apart. You will need to add a couple splashes of the leftover tea to get it going. Blend for 1 or 2 minutes until you get a slightly chunky paste. Transfer paste into a baking mold or glass container lined with parchment paper (make sure paper overlaps the sides so you can pull it).
- Smooth out the surface with a spatula or spoon, then add the topping evenly. Transfer container to the freezer and freeze for 30 min.
- Remove container from the freezer, pull the parchment paper to unmold the cacao bites. Cut into small squares and you’re good to go. These squares can be kept in the fridge for a week.
Other pick-me-ups I love are:
Dark chocolate covered almonds
If low blood sugar is triggering your slump, the little bit of sugar in dark chocolate almonds will bring it back up, while the fat and protein in almonds will prevent it from spiking. Plus, chocolate contains a bit of caffeine, but not enough to interfere with sleep.
Sunlight plays a vital role in regulating our circadian rhythm. If you’re stuck inside all day, 10 minutes in the sun could be the energy booster your body needs. If you can’t get away from the desk, bring your cell phone or laptop to do some work outside.
A power nap
If possible, try a 10-20 minute power nap. This short length of time has been shown to boost alertness while not affecting sleep quality later that night.
If you’d like a caffeine boost without the full dosage found in a cup of coffee, try matcha tea, a green tea made from crushed green tea leaves. One cup is equivalent to about half a cup of coffee. Personally, I find iced matcha tea with ginger and lemon especially invigorating.
Cheddar cheese and fresh fruit
Fatigue can be a sign of hunger. Power up with a combination of high fiber carbohydrate paired with fat and/or protein. My favorite combination is a crisp apple or pear (bonus – crunchy food can help relieve stress) with protein-rich sharp cheddar cheese. And to prevent mid-afternoon fatigue, make sure your lunch is satisfying!
Try taking a quick stretch break, which improves blood flow and awakens the nervous system. Stretches that target the spine and open the heart (chest) are particularly energizing.
Dehydration is a common cause of fatigue. If you’ve made it through the day without hardly making a dent in your water bottle, try a glass of ice water. The cold water can be invigorating!
Smoothie with maca powder
Maca powder is a dried root vegetable grown in South America. It’s been used as an energy booster for centuries! Try blending it in a smoothie – it’s especially tasty with frozen banana and peanut butter – for an afternoon boost.
Do you have any favorite afternoon pick-me-up tricks? Share your comments below, and be sure to sign up for Luvo’s newsletter for more nutritious recipes and exclusive giveaways.