Fight Afternoon Fatigue Without Another Cup Of Coffee

By Catherine Roy, October 4, 2017


Craving that mid-afternoon coffee? Hitting your coworker’s candy bowl come 3:00PM? Too tired for that evening gym session? You’re not alone!

Even the InsideTracker office struggles with the dreaded afternoon slump sometimes. So, as usual, we took matters into our own hands and did some digging into easy ways to boost energy – besides coffee, of course. 

Want to banish fatigue, keep your afternoon productive, and maybe even save a few bucks? InsideTracker customers will find these recommendations and more in our "Boost Energy" goal.

Biomarkers associated with energy levels

Glucose is the body’s main source of energy. However, most people's blood glucose levels aren't optimized, and instead have too much of it in their bloodstream. This causes the excess to be stored as fat.

Cortisol is released during times of stress to trigger energy bursts as part of our “fight or flight” response. But after the stressful situation has dissipated, so too should cortisol levels; chronically elevated cortisol can lead to negative effects like chronic fatigue, poor sleep and mood, increased anxiety, digestive issues, and weight gain.

Your Iron Group biomarkers regulate oxygen transport in your bloodstream and facilitate energy production to power you through the day.

DHEAS (for women) is used to synthesize sex hormones. Unoptimized levels of DHEAS are associated with fatigue and weakness, as well as weight management difficulties, menstrual cycle irregularities, and fertility issues. However, birth control can affect this marker as well – here's how.

Testosterone (for men) is important for sexual function and athletic performance. It helps to increase the body's capacity to use oxygen during exercise, improve strength, and build muscle. Optimized levels aid in boosting energy and promoting the growth of lean muscle mass.

Make the most out of every moment

Actionable steps towards increased energy

In addition to biomarkers, our day-to-day lifestyle choices also play a pivotal role in overall energy levels and our ability to fight fatigue:

Make H2O your best friend

Considering our bodies are about 60% water, it's no surprise that proper hydration is essential for energy and mood regulation. Even mild levels of dehydration can instigate adverse effects like fatigue, headaches, impaired concentration, confusion, and reduced alertness.1,2

Our suggestion? Keep a reusable water bottle at your desk or in your work bag, and sip all day long! Adding flavors like cucumber, mint, or lemon is a fun way to spice up boring old water. And remember: if you’re thirsty, it means you’re already dehydrated!

Get some sunlight

Ever feel sluggish when it’s rainy and dark? That’s because light exposure, both from sunlight and artificial light, can heavily influence our energy levels. Multiple studies have confirmed that daytime bright light exposure not only reduces the impact of sleep loss on perceived sleepiness levels, but also positively affects mood, social interactions, and vitality.3,4,5,6


So if you needed an excuse to go for that mid-afternoon walk (ok, frolic) or eat your lunch outside, this is it! You can also spruce up your workspace with lamps, candles, or light-catching surfaces. 

Take a mid-afternoon walk

If you’re sick of sitting at a desk all day, you’re going to love hearing this: one study showed that breaking up a 6-hour sitting streak with an hourly 5-minute walk increased mood, decreased levels of fatigue, and reduced food cravings.7 The same study also demonstrated that a 30-minute bout of moderate-intensity walking before work increased energy levels.7

And as tempting as that vending machine may be, research shows that a 10-minute walk is more effective at increasing energy and reducing tension than eating a candy bar.8

The bottom line? Get up, get moving, and don’t answer the phone when the vending machine comes calling!

Eat a balanced breakfast

Breakfast provides your body with the initial fuel it needs to jumpstart your day. But does what we eat actually matter? According to science, yes!

Research shows that a breakfast high in fiber, low in fat, and adequate in both protein and complex carbohydrates has the greatest positive impact on energy levels and alertness.9,10,11 This winning combo keeps hunger at bay throughout the morning, balances blood sugar, increases alertness, and prevents a mid-morning crash. Bonus: these energy-boosting effects were shown to last well into the afternoon.

One of our personal breakfast favorites is oatmeal with chocolate and almonds. You can find that recipe herealong with some other great energy-boosting options!  

For more refreshing recommendations, be sure to choose “Boost Energy” as your next InsideTracker goal.

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  1. [1] Armstrong LE, Ganio MS, Casa DJ, Lee EC, McDermott BP, Klau JF, Jimenez L, Le Bellego L, Chevillotte E, Lieberman HR. “Mild dehydration affects mood in healthy young women.” The Journal of Nutrition. 2012 Feb;142(2):382-8
  2. [2] Pross N, Demazières A, Girard N, Barnouin R, Santoro F, Chevillotte E, Klein A, Le Bellego L. “Influence of progressive fluid restriction on mood and physiological markers of dehydration in women.” The British Journal of Nutrition. 2013 Jan 28;109(2):313-21.
  3. [3] Phipps-Nelson J, Redman JR, Dijk DJ, Rajaratnam SM. “Daytime exposure to bright light, as compared to dim light, decreases sleepiness and improves psychomotor vigilance performance.” Sleep. 2003 Sep;26(6):695-700.
  4. [4] Partonen T, Lönnqvist J. “Bright light improves vitality and alleviates distress in healthy people.” Journal of Affective Disorders. 2000 Jan-Mar;57(1-3):55-61.
  5. [5] An M, Colarelli SM, O'Brien K,, Boyajian ME. “Why We Need More Nature at Work: Effects of Natural Elements and Sunlight on Employee Mental Health and Work Attitudes.” PLoS One. 2016 May 23;11(5):e0155614.
  6. [6] aan het Rot M, Moskowitz DS, Young SN. “Exposure to bright light is associated with positive social interaction and good mood over short time periods: A naturalistic study in mildly seasonal people.” The Journal of Psychiatric Research. 2008 Mar;42(4):311-9. Epub 2007 Feb 1.
  7. [7] Bergouignan A, Legget KT, De Jong N, Kealey E, Nikolovski J, Groppel JL, Jordan C, O'Day R, Hill JO, Bessesen DH. “Effect of frequent interruptions of prolonged sitting on self-perceived levels of energy, mood, food cravings and cognitive function.” International Journal of Behavioral Nutiriton and Physical Activity. 2016 Nov 3;13(1):113.
  8. [8] Thayer, RE. “Energy, tiredness, and tension effects of a sugar snack versus moderate exercise.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 987 Jan;52(1):119-25.
  9. [9] Kamada I, Truman L, Bold J, Mortimore D. “The impact of breakfast in metabolic and digestive health.” Gastroenterology and Hepatology From Bed to Bench. 2011 Spring;4(2):76-85.
  10. [10] Holt SH, Delargy HJ, Lawton CL, Blundell JE. “The effects of high-carbohydrate vs high-fat breakfasts on feelings of fullness and alertness, and subsequent food intake.” International Journal of Food Science & Nutrition. 1999 Jan;50(1):13-28.
  11. [11] Pasman WJ, Blokdijk VM, Bertina FM, Hopman WP, Hendriks HF. “Effect of two breakfasts, different in carbohydrate composition, on hunger and satiety and mood in healthy men.” International Journal of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders. 2003 Jun;27(6):663-8.


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