Madrona Nutrition and Fitness: Recipe and Nutrition Guide

Madrona Nutrition and Fitness:
Guide to Wellness through Holistic Diet
and Lifestyle

Rachel Fiske
Certified Holistic Nutrition Consultant,
Certified Personal Trainer

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Mid-Afternoon Energy Crash

I think the number one complaint I hear year after year from my clients is the all-too familiar mid-afternoon crash. For many, it has become so familiar that we’ve simply accepted it as a normal way of going through our day. The good news is, it is absolutely not normal, there are reasons you are experiencing this energy dip and things you can do to fix it.

What this afternoon energy plummet usually signifies is a blood sugar dip (which was often preceded by a blood sugar spike). We’ve talked a lot in my previous articles about the importance of supporting our adrenals and blood sugar levels via food, supplementation, and exercise to achieve sustained and optimal energy, so lets review.

Maintaining stable blood sugar throughout the day begins in the morning. When we start the day with a high carbohydrate or no breakfast at all, we are setting ourselves up for a blood sugar rollercoaster that is hard to get off. Think, the SAD (standard American diet) includes a typical breakfast of cereal and milk, maybe some fruit. While there are some great vitamins and minerals in fruit, this breakfast is mostly carbohydrates. Out of the 3 macro-nutrients (protein, fat, carbs), carbs are the fastest burning (fats are slowest, then proteins). This means, we get a blood sugar spike from eating lots of carbs (particularly when we don’t eat them alongside fat and protein), and this is followed by a big dip is blood sugar levels, which we experience as low energy! The roller-coaster part comes in when, after we’ve set this unfortunate tone for the day, we continue to overeat carbs in order to recover our energy (sugar/carb cravings, anyone?), and the cycle repeats.

That mid-afternoon crash is commonly a result of either dipping and spiking due to the wrong kind of or no breakfast, high carbohydrate/sugary foods and snacks and lunch, OR big gaps of time where we’re not eating at all, causing blood sugar dips that, again, can be very hard to recover from.

Interestingly, there is a big connection between our primary adrenal stress hormone, cortisol, and insulin. Cortisol inhibits insulin production in an attempt to use glucose immediately instead of storing it. So, when our blood sugar levels are spiking high due to the reasons mentioned above, our adrenals have to work extra hard to meet the cortisol demand. This can lead to adrenal fatigue. If you’re experiencing frequent energy dips, testing your cortisol levels is incredibly beneficial.

I always tell my clients who experience energy dips and fatigue to start with breakfast! If you change nothing else, incorporating a breakfast within one hour of waking that includes good quality protein, fat, and (ideally) some veggies, can make a huge difference for the rest of the day. This could be eggs (with the yolk, pasture raised if possible) cooked in coconut oil or organic butter and some raw sauerkraut, a breakfast sausage with some raw or cooked greens, or one of my favorites is a slice of frittata or egg muffin that can be made over the weekend and eaten throughout the day. Try this for a few weeks and see the difference it makes!

As always, thanks for reading and please contact me if interested in working together to create a personalized diet and supplementation protocol and adrenal testing.