Had a busy morning and you need to grab some food to power your way through the afternoon's work schedule? Let's look at what sort of lunch is best.
Attribution: Flickr - Mark H. Anbinder
Food as fuel
Food is in fact several different types of fuel thrown together. Some things, especially glucose, can be used right away, however most of what we put into our bellies has to be converted into fuel. Choosing the right mix will give you the right energy.
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These are things like white bread and pasta. They are light on your stomach and will give you a quick energy spike, but they will lead to a quick slump.
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These are great to have if you are going into a big meeting or trying to get something done straight after lunch, but not recommended for slow and stable energy release.
High fat meals
Fat takes longer to break down so actually they will give us more sustained energy. Unfortunately they take time to digest and as result eating fatty food can make us lethargic after eating.
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Generally you want to avoid really fatty foods anyway, but a little healthy fat isn't too bad, though you would be better off seeking out complex carbohydrates.
If you are going all day with physical labour, there is nothing better than complex carbohydrates to provide long-term energy. The problem is, like high fat meals, your performance will suffer after eating lots of them because they take time to digest. In fact it has been found that scores on standard tests like IQ tests drop after a big carb heavy meal.
Like everything else, a little is okay, but best avoided as the sole component of lunch.
Some people spend their day chomping down protein bars and drinking protein shakes. Given that we don't need that much protein all they are doing is damaging their liver. Also a large protein rich meal will leave us very tired.
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Small amounts of protein are good for us. Put some protein into every meal and they are good when snacking as well. Protein is essential to make us feel full, so they are a great way to avoid feeling hungry. Just don't over do it.
Fruit and vegetables
Fruit and vegetables are always recommended and now they have been found to make you more content, engage better and be more creative.
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Grabbing a salad at lunch is a great idea. Though be careful, very often the shop bought ones are drowned in sugary salad dressing. The best salads are the ones that on top of fresh produce, also contain a little protein and some healthy fats (like avocado).
The real secret is maintaining your glucose levels. When glucose is low your decision making ability and self-control is lost.
Attribution: Flickr - Okko Pyykko
We are told that snacking is a bad idea, however by having healthy snacks such as boiled eggs, fruit, veggie sticks or nuts on hand, we can keep control of our glucose level and perform better.