It’s 3:00 pm!  Do you know where your energy is?
by Jennifer Brewer, Certified Nutritionist

We all know the feeling of sitting in an afternoon meeting or at our desks and feeling a heavy weight of fatigue wash over us.  This is the perfect time for a nap, but unless you have a bed under your desk, that isn’t going to happen.  So, what is the next best option? You need to try eating or drinking something that will give you sustained energy.  Also, if you are heading down to the beach after work to play, you want to be sure you have the energy to play until the sun sets!

Try these 5 dietary strategies to increase your energy mid-afternoon:

  1. Look Backwards to Lunch:  If you are consistently tired in the afternoon, it could be that your lunch just doesn’t cut it. Food is supposed to give you energy, so if you are sleepy or tired after eating, you might not be eating foods that are energy producing for you.  Instead of staying with the status quo, begin trying different types of foods and different quantities of food. EveryBODY is different, and ultimately it will be up to you to determine the food that makes you feel vibrant and energized.  Your Increased Energy Plan: Start experimenting with different things for lunch with the goal to determine the foods that give you energy vs. make you feel sluggish.
  2. Put more Raw, Living foods in your lunch and throughout your day: Again, we eat for energy and to feel more aLIVE, so it should make total sense that this will be easier achieved with live foods, like raw fruits and vegetables.  Do you know why produce spoils so quickly? It is full of enzymes that will start to actually work to break it down.  Imagine, when you eat produce you get all of those enzymes to work to break down that food for you, giving you more energy to “play with” if you will!  You don’t have to become a raw foodist to experience the benefits of live foods—start by gradually increasing the amount of raw foods you are eating at each meal.  Recently, a client of mine was feeling tired in the afternoons after his lunch of leftovers from dinner and a side salad.  I recommended he try simply shifting how much he was eating of each food.  Now, he eats a smaller portion of the cooked food and he eats a larger salad, and this small change has made a big difference in his energy level. Your Increased Energy Plan: Increase the amount of live foods at your lunch and throughout the day.  Notice how this makes you feel.
  1. Go Green!  Green leafy vegetables, like kale, collard greens, spinach and the like are filled with a substance called chlorophyll which is literally the blood of the plant.  This is how the plant stays well nourished and vital.  And the good news is that it is available to you!  Do you know anyone addicted to wheatgrass shots?  I do!  There is a good reason: This stuff makes you feel GOOD!  And energized!  All greens are great, and if they are raw all the better, but cooked greens are great too. Your Increased Energy Plan: Add more leafy greens to your diet, cooked or raw.  You can also drink green drinks, like wheatgrass or other green powders.
  1. Get Hydrated!  Yes, I know you have heard this 1,000 times, but we don’t always do the things that we hear are good for us, right?  So, count this as the 1,001 time you are getting the ‘Water is necessary for good health speech’.  Our bodies are 60 % water, but did you know that our blood is over 85% water?  Our blood (just like chlorophyll in plants) is what ensures we are properly nourished and well oxygenated. Dehydration can reduce blood volume and diminish blood flow to the organs, slowing down your brain, leaving you fuzzy and sluggish. Your Increased Energy Plan:Drink 8 10-oz glasses per day or half of your body weight (pounds) in ounces – e.g. If you weigh 150 pounds, you should drink 75 ounces of water each day (roughly 7-1/2 full glasses).   Don't love water? Try squeezing some fruit into it for flavor:  Lemon is a great fruit for your liver, so try drinking lemon water throughout the day. Herbal tea (hot or cold) counts, too!  But, sorry, caffeine and/or energy drinks do not! In fact, these dehydrate you even more…which leads me to strategy number 5….
  2. As much as possible, resist the quick fix.  Sugar and caffeine…yes, the duo of quick “energy” production! You know the drill, you feel great after one of those energy drinks loaded with caffeine and sugar, but after an hour or so you crash.  Once and a while these might be okay for you, but overuse of any of these pick me ups results in overworking your adrenal glands, which will leave you more fatigued in the long run. You become dependent on these substances to artificially raise your energy and it gets more and more difficult for your body to do it on its own. Your Increased Energy Plan: Be sure to have healthy food with you at all times so you can choose a healthy snack over a sugary one.  And replace your afternoon cup of coffee with a green drink!

So, to sum it up, if you would like to have more energy throughout the day, begin by experimenting with different foods to see how they affect your energy.  Also, be sure you are well-hydrated and try increasing the amount of green, live foods you are eating.  This recipe should help to make it easier:

Raw Kale and Tahini Salad

Here is one of my favorite salads—it is green, raw and delicious!  Try this for an afternoon snack and notice the difference in your energy.

1 head lacinato or dinosaur kale, thinly sliced                                                           
sea salt                                                                                                                                   
1 clove garlic, minced                                                                                                       
1/4 cup tahini   (sesame seed paste sold near the peanut butters)                           
1/4 cup water                                                                                                           
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice                                                                                      
3 plum tomatoes, diced                                                                                                 
1 carrot, grated                                                                                                                        
3 scallions, sliced                                                                                                                 
1 cup cooked whole grain, like brown rice or quinoa (optional)

Place sliced kale in a bowl, sprinkle with sea salt and “massage” for 3 minutes until kale starts to break down.  In a bowl with a whisk or food processor, mix together garlic, tahini, water and lemon juice.  Stir tahini sauce into kale and add tomato, carrots, green onion and grain (if using).  Refrigerate until ready to eat.

On my weekly meal plan, there are LOTS of recipes for leafy greens and a recipe for a weekly refrigerator staple so you always have healthy food to eat that will make you feel great!  You can try the meal plan free for a month by going to  Until next time, Eat Well, Be Well and LOVE Every Bite!  ~Jennifer

Jennifer Brewer, MS, CNS is a Nutritionist and Natural Chef in Santa Cruz, California.  Be sure to check out her website at


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