As the long days of summer approach, so does the seemingly long days in the office. In the summer, I always feel a little bit out of routine and lose my usual pep-in-my-step and end up eating food and snacks at all kinds of weird times to try to fill in that unsatisfied feeling.
When the 11 o’clockish time arrives, I’m usually hungry and start to look for some snacks (as I think it is too early for lunch!)…snacks end up being a delicious donut or some mini chocolates…or even cookies and coffee! Mmm I love cookies and coffee! None of these items are really good for my health, gut or mental well-being (we maybe this!) but I feel that the dreaded crash comes on quick and stops me in my productive tracks.
After doing some research, I have found that there is one easy-to-implement-now trick to getting out of this brain fog, blood sugar dropping slump: adding just a little bit more protein to each meal. Now, let’s be clear, I am not a protein fanatic that is dedicated to shoving extra chicken and eggs in my diet, but there is something to be said about proteins positive benefits for your body and mind.
So what is protein?
- any of a class of nitrogenous organic compounds that consist of large molecules composed of one or more long chains of amino acids and are an essential part of all living organisms, especially as structural components of body tissues such as muscle, hair, collagen, etc., and as enzymes and antibodies.
In non-technical terms…protein is our best friend when it comes to crushing cravings and feeling alert and ready to go at work. It helps us feel more satisfied, fuller and helps to regulate a number of reward hormones in the brains (unlike eating just carbs or fats). Protein also has a low glycemic index so it doesn’t cause major highs or lows from sugar…which in turn, reduces our cravings.
So, how do we add this delightful nitrogenous organic compound in our diet so we are not snooping around the office kitchen looking for snacks or digging out your kids ‘extra’ pack of fruit snacks from the bottom of your purse? Simply add small, extra amounts to each meal….read below to find out what and three ways how.
*Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click-through and make a purchase.*
How to beat brain fog at work with powerful protein!
1. Start Your Day With Some Protein
If you’ve been searching for a way to reduce your caffeine intake or simply switch to a healthier breakfast, adding protein to your first meal of the day is a great idea.
If you have breakfast at home, meal prep some egg muffins for breakfast as a simple and easy hack to start your day off on the right path. Or if you are in a bind and buy breakfast on the way in, look for egg options on the road…my go-to on the road is the Starbucks Sous Vide Egg Bites: Bacon & Gruyère with a Venti (!) Blonde coffee!
Related: Save Money Weekly by Meal Planning!
If you’re an oatmeal or smoothie type of person, mix some protein powder into your morning oats/drink to power it up. Or switch to soy milk which has much more protein than normal dairy. I like to add a scoop of Collagen Peptides Hydrolyzed Protein Powder.
If you prefer colder breakfasts, add some Greek yogurt into your granola for the protein bump.
This simple adjustment will make you feel more alert, awake and you won’t need that extra coffee to push you through to lunch.
2. At Main Meals, Include 1-1.5 Palm-Sized Servings of Protein
At lunch, make sure you get enough protein in addition to your vegetables and grains.
For meat eaters, aim for 1-1.5 palm-sized servings of lean meat. For vegetarians and vegans, get 1-1.5 cups of tofu, tempeh, lentils, chickpeas or beans.
Often, I don’t have many good takeout choices around my work…lots of sandwich or fast food options…so I end up eating a lot of carbs which does not support my ‘active afternoon’ at work! So, I have started to dial back on the carbs…get the sandwich (take off the bread) or focus on ordering a meal that has a good blend of meats, veggies and sometimes grains.
If you like to bring your lunch to work, you can meal prep really quickly on the weekend using the one-pan sheet prep method – this basically involves chopping the meat and vegetables, seasoning them and laying them all out on one pan to bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes. Scoop all that goodness into some fridge/freezer Tupperware and Bam! You’re done.
3. Incorporate Protein into Your Snacks Too
Oh the snacks, how I love snacks! Now that you know the power of protein, don’t even glance at muffins or juices or any such sugar-laden treat for the afternoon pick-me-up. They help for half an hour but then we start looking over our shoulder for something else to eat, over and over until it’s time to leave work, then we feel guilty and fat and make an even worse choice for dinner!
Instead, pack these simple snacks in your handbag (or pick them up at the convenience store) and you’ll never have an afternoon slump again! Bonus – no prep needed, just a purse big enough to hold snacks!
I purchase a number of these snacks from the service Thrive Market. Thrive Market is a membership community that uses the power of direct buying to deliver the world’s best healthy food and natural products to our members at wholesale prices, and to sponsor free memberships for low-income American families. I represent this company because I love what its mission…and it also saves me money:
Some naturally high-protein snacks that you can purchase at a highly discounted rate from Thrive Market are:
Greek yogurt: get unsweetened versions of brands like Chobani which have thicker creamier yogurt and are also higher in protein than their counterparts. Double win!
Dry roasted edamame is a great alternative if you’re craving something crunchy. It has twice the amount of protein as chickpeas and beans, which makes it even more satisfying.
Cottage cheese – can be eaten just plan, topped with some cacao powder and peanut butter or paired with an apple. It’s great when you are looking for something a little tangy and salty.
Beef jerky – high-quality jerky have minimal ingredients and come from grass-fed beef that is healthy for us. In addition, these come in many flavors (just like chips) to satisfy any type of taste craving we may have that day.
Cheddar cheese – good quality cheese slices with crackers anyone? Honestly, we can just eat the cheese as is – it’s so good even without crackers and has a good amount of protein to keep us feeling satisfied. As a plus, cheddar cheese slices are available even in the most unpretentious little shops.
Kefir – if you feel like drinking something, pick up some unsweetened Kefir instead of juices or smoothies. It’s a cultured milk drink which has good protein but is also high in probiotic’s to keep your tummy happy.
So what have I learned. Protein is a winner for both your physical and mental health is helping to prevent the mid day or late afternoon unhealthy snack attack! When we are not in hungry (or sometimes hangry!) mode, we are more efficient, productive and less likely to binge eat on bad snacks!
Let me know in the comments what works for you!
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