5 Slump-Beating Steps to Afternoon Energy

Ever wonder if you’re not eating enough? Or can’t seem to make it through the afternoon without an extra cup of coffee? Are you worried that even with regular slow carb meals, you don’t seem to have the energy that other people talk about? After 2 weeks of testing, I have the answer and I’m sure you can beat your afternoon slump too. Even better, you might find your cravings vanish and you’re left with more energy.

It all started when we moved house and my routine changed.

I went from working at home, to working half a day away from the house. This meant some changes in routines, like getting up, and doing my hair, every morning, instead of just those days when I was going out in public. It also meant a split between eating times and work times, plus travel time to and from an office.

And so it began.

I was getting home in the middle of the day, and would soon feel like going to bed.

I could not figure it out. What was it? Lack of sleep? Some kind of lack of motivation having left the office? Some bad voodoo at the house??

It was consistently happening, despite my best attempts to schedule things well, and organize my day so I had a focus in the afternoon. Nothing seemed to work.

You might have felt the same sitting at the desk at work, or getting through a day of to-dos – you get to 2pm and your body falls in a heap.

This is not what slow carb is meant to be like!

So what was up? I was losing motivation to get things done, and felt like my body just wasn’t following through with it’s end of the deal.

Maybe it’s food, I thought. But, checking my meals, I was eating consistently good slow carb meals, and was eating enough during the day, comparing to last month when things were fine.

So I started looking at my routine.

And then the penny dropped.

Working at home, my average breakfast time was around 8.30am – which was also the time I started working. So I would cook, and then sit down to an inbox full of email.I would ‘pull up’ around 12 midday to cook some lunch, and would be eating around 12.30 or perhaps 1pm at the latest.

Now, what did my schedule look like?

Getting up a bit earlier, and eating in time to get out the door and drive to work. So that meant eating breakfast at around 8am. Then, working for a 4 hour stretch, perhaps a tiny bit longer, and then driving home, cooking some lunch and eating. With the driving, 8am breakfast would convert to starting work at around 8.45, which meant eating lunch around 1.30pm. That’s an ideal scenario, with no trains blocking the road, detours, etc.

So what’s the big difference?

Doing some simple math, the truth is revealed:

Working at Home- 8.30am – 12.30pm/1pm = 4-4.5 hours between breakfast and lunch.

Working at the Office – 8.00am – 1.30pm = 5.5 hours between breakfast and lunch.

And there it is. A simply 1-1.5 hour difference. But what does that mean, to my body?

Effectively, the majority of the food eaten is ingested and hits the bloodstream around 1.5 hours after eating, so in my case, 9.30am or so. Because it is slow carb food, it then provides energy slowly over a couple of hours, which probably takes me through to around 11.30am. At this point, we’re approaching 3.5 hours after eating breakfast. If I was at home, then I’d be starting to cook, and eating about half an hour later, however at the office, I’m still an hour away from home, let alone eating lunch.

So time goes by, and gradually I become more hungry. The food supply runs short and blood sugar most likely starts to drop. I make the drive home, dreaming about hamburgers, using all the willpower I have, and hit the kitchen in a hurry, wishing I could just stuff my face with peanut butter and cashews (not a good plan).

Then, it’s time to eat – 5.5 hours after eating breakfast. So now, all the blood rushes in to the stomach, with urgency, and starts to digest my slow carb lunch. But it takes time to digest again, and so now where am I at 2pm? I’m now 6 hours since eating breakfast, and my blood hasn’t got lunch yet.

Predictably, I am thinking I haven’t eaten enough at lunchtime, and start second guessing my daily food intake.

Then, either I perk up around 3pm, or I meander through to the evening in a bit of a dull haze, then getting a fresh burst of energy around 5 or 6pm.

Not a great way to enjoy a day that needs to be productive.

I have now completed my experiment, having packed a lunch, and eaten it around 12 midday – 12.30 pm every day this week, with my control being today – not packing a lunch and eating again as soon as I could after getting home, which worked out to be around 1.15pm. Sure enough, like clockwork, there’s that afternoon slump that has me dreaming of chocolate and afternoon naps.

So what can we learn from this experiment?

A simply truth. That eating slow carb can help satisfy hunger for much longer than many other foods, but its not impossible to drive yourself to hunger, if you don’t eat frequently enough. Many other diet plans recommend eating every 2 to 3 hours, to keep a continual, balanced blood sugar level. Slow carb has the same effect due to how slowly the carbohydrates in beans are digested, however after a certain window of time (around 4 hours), things are in just the same state as they would have been had we had cereal and milk for breakfast.

Having completed this test, I have created this easy check list of things to do, to help you feel great, all day long.

The 5 easy steps to beating the slump

  1. Take note of your meal times for a week, either on a piece of paper you can carry with you, or on your cell phone (something that’s always nearby). Time of day is enough, only record meals (in theory there’s no snacking on slow carb anyway)
  2. Do some quick calculations about the time gap between each meal for the whole week
  3. Look for patterns or particularly large gaps due to circumstances – do you have a longer break between lunch and dinner? Do you regularly have a break longer than 4 hours between breakfast and lunch?
  4. Analyze any gaps larger than 4 hours and determine if they could be contributing to lack of energy and/or food cravings you have regularly – if so, re-work your meal schedule (if possible) to bring your 4 meals into a 4 hourly schedule. If this is absolutely impossible, as a last resort I would suggest splitting a slow carb meal in half, and having one half 3 hours after the previous meal, and the other 2 hours after the first half.
  5. Check how you’re feeling after a week on your new schedule (and send me a thankyou icon wink 5 Slump Beating Steps to Afternoon Energy

Once you’ve completed the above exercise, you might have better insight into how long is a good amount of time for you. It could be 3 hours, it could be 5 hours, everyone is different. The key, however, is that you’re not regularly going ‘too long’, as that’s when changes occur in your body, that mean the next meal is more likely to be stored, not burned.

I’m sure you can beat your afternoon (or morning) slump

You might be interested in reading these too:

  1. A New Outlook on Energy Luke and I probably aren't the only ones dealing with a whole new idea of energy! I am astounded by how long I can last now that I'm eating such incredibly fueling food....
  2. 4 steps to finding motivation For both newcomers and those who have seen some progress, but are having challenges along the way, there's great power in a few simple steps. These can be useful for those just starting,...
  3. 5 Step How to: Stop Cravings and Tame Temptation Do you find temptation around every corner? Doing your best to confine your ice cream habit to cheat day but things are slipping? Temptation isn't just for daytime soaps, but the good news...

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8 Responses to 5 Slump-Beating Steps to Afternoon Energy

  • Adam says:

    This is very true. When I started my SCD, I was eating breakfast at around 6:20 am (super early i know, but my NY commute demands it) and getting hungry for lunch at 11am. Even at 11, I was getting headaches. A few weeks in my body adjusted and I felt better, but I also found that consuming coffee once I got to work (at around 8am) helped mitigate my hunger and alleviate my headaches.

    • Luke says:

      Hey Adam,

      Interesting experience. Having breakfast at 6.30ish I would be looking for lunch around 10.30.. which sounds very close to what you experienced. It seems that slow carb food burns off it about hours for most people. Your testing with coffee is interesting – I find it speeds my metabolism enough for me to feel hungry earlier, however, the caffeine could have been helping you feel more energy, and mild caffeine doses can help alleviate headaches too, which makes sense with your experience.
      Did you consider a snack in the mid morning? Or do you hold out until lunchtime (what time is that?)?


  • Cindy says:

    I find that I usually get hungry 2-3 hours after a meal. I eat until i’m full, but I still get hungry. Is it okay to eat smaller more frequent meals? Also in the book it says sugar free jell-o is okay, what is your take on that?

    • Luke says:

      Hi Cindy,

      You should only need to have 3 or 4 meals a day – try adding more beans to each meal, and add more protein too – they digest slowly and should provide you with 4 hours of ongoing energy. How much water are you drinking? Sometimes thirst can seem like hunger, and if you think you’re definitely eating enough, then this could be a factor.

      All the best,

      • Rea says:

        Hi Luke,

        I find that I can only last 2.5 hours before I get weak between my slow carb meals. I am only into my second day, I am eating way more than I normally do, to the point of forcing the last few bites, but I still have almost no energy throughout the day. I’m wondering whether this is normal while the body adjusts, because I just can’t imaging eating more than I already am of the ‘allowed’ foods. I should also mention that I am working out almost on a daily basis – could that account for the lack of energy? Any insight you can provide would be much appreciated!!!

        • Luke Starbuck says:

          Hi Rea,

          It can take a little bit of adjustment time. How are you feeling now? It can also take some time to be able to eat large meals, as these foods tend to need meals that are larger than most people are used to eating. Keep at it, and you’ll find more time elapses between meals after a few weeks. Your blood sugar regulation will have an impact, and this takes a little time for your body to get figured out.

          All the best

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