You just got back to work after a much-needed lunchtime break. But instead of feeling energized and ready to take on the rest of the day, you are tired and sluggish. Sound familiar? “Eating too much and eating foods that are full of fat or sugar can cause drowsiness and have a negative effect on your energy level,” says Tara Gidus Collingwood, MS, RDN, CSSD, a performance dietitian in Orlando, Florida. But the right foods can have the opposite effect—helping you power through the afternoon. So if you’re tired of running on empty, make these swaps to boost your energy level and finish the day strong.
Skip it: Chicken salad sandwich
Why: Chicken is a good source of protein, which is ideal for upping energy. But depending on how heavy-handed you are with the mayo, this classic can pack loads of unhealthy fat.
Instead, eat: Mediterranean Veggie Wrap
Why: Heart-healthy fiber fills you up and helps you feel fuller longer. This wrap gives you a double dose, with a whole-grain tortilla that’s loaded with roasted veggies. It’s finished off with a creamy tzatziki sauce made with nonfat Greek yogurt.
Skip it: Pepperoni pizza and soda
Why: A piece of pizza is a quick grab-and-go lunch, but lay on some pepperoni and you can add 10 grams of fat or more to your slice. A thick, doughy crust made from refined flour, and paired with a sugary soda, will cause your blood sugar to spike, then plummet—along with your energy.
Instead, eat: Ripe Tomato Pizzetta with iced green tea
Why: Our thinner, whole-wheat crust helps shave unnecessary calories while adding fiber and B vitamins. For long-lasting energy, we pile on a good balance of ripe tomatoes, leafy spinach, creamy ricotta and Parmesan cheese. If you crave caffeine, try unsweetened iced green tea for a gentle lift to get you through the afternoon.
Skip it: House salad
Why: While you can end up feeling sluggish from eating too much, your energy can also drop if you don’t eat enough at midday. If your go-to salad consists of iceberg lettuce, a few carrot slivers, and tomato wedges, you’re not doing yourself any favors.
Instead, eat: Buffalo Shrimp Salad
Why: Leafy greens are rich in energizing iron. Here, they’re topped with carrots, grape tomatoes, cucumbers and spicy Buffalo shrimp, along with a generous drizzle of Caesar dressing and crunchy garlic croutons, for a hearty bowl that’s full of fiber and lean protein.
Skip it: Burger and fries
Why: When hunger strikes, a burger and fries may hit the spot—but they will have you dozing in your chair by 2 p.m.
Instead, eat: Greek Burger & Roasted Potatoes
Why: Our new beef and mushroom burger blend is a protein-rich alternative to traditional all-beef patties. It provides a meaty texture with a fraction of the fat and calories. Roasted potato wedges make for a savory side loaded with antioxidants and fiber that will help steady your blood sugar.