No matter what you do or what your individual goals are, a solid diet is the cornerstone of top-tier performance. Even if you’re not invested in the fitness lifestyle, I want you to understand that you will never reach your potential eating like everyone else.
But eating right during busy office hours? Is that even possible? It can be done. We don’t do excuses here at Living Lean and Mean. If you’re a student, office bee or construction worker struggling to stay on track during your shifts, this one’s for you.
So many choices, so few options
Look around you. We are surrounded by high calorie, low-quality foods on a daily basis. It has become increasingly difficult to find decent options amidst the junk sold as food today.
With that said, most people don’t think twice about what they put inside their bodies, especially during working hours. Whatever’s fast and convenient is what’s going down. Big mistake.
When you’re at work, you need the proper fuel to keep you going strong without the ups and downs associated with poor food choices. Meals and snacks that help you stay sharp physically and mentally throughout the day are the only valid option.
Mental performance is governed largely by the foods you consume. The production of essential brain chemicals requires proper nutrient status. A lack of choline, for instance, will impede cognitive function and affect your ability to process and memorize new information (eggs, nuts, and dark chocolate are fantastic sources of this vital nutrient).
But I get it. You don’t need a lecture on neurochemistry. You need a simple template you can follow every day without busting your balls or breaking your bank. Quick and easy on-the-go meals, that get the job done.
Preparation breeds excellence
Whether we’re talking lunch at the office or winning an Olympic gold medal, preparation is everything. Don’t expect physique friendly meals to just fall into your lap. Know your options and be prepared for every scenario. Pack the right foods/ snacks and have them available at the right time.
How do you put together quick, nourishing and tasty on-the-go meals? Pick a nutrient-dense protein source, add some carbohydrates and/or a source of fat to create a complete muscle-building and brain-boosting meal.
- Cottage cheese, almonds, 1 piece of fruit
- Tuna salad with avocado
- Roast beef sandwich with sliced hardboiled eggs
- High protein yogurt with dried fruit and walnuts
- Grilled chicken salad with a slice of whole grain bread
Adjust the size and macronutrient ratio to fit your personal needs.
Whether you bring your own meals or go to a restaurant or cafeteria is up to you. Pre-cooking your meals allows you to eat according to your specific goals, but may be undesirable in certain work environments.
If you eat out for lunch, make sure to pick smaller, easily digested meals. Grilled meat/ fish and veggies, and salads are your best options. Large, carb-heavy meals like pasta and pizza will put you to sleep.
Eat less during the day to avoid the afternoon slump
Big meals have a calming effect on the body. When you eat large meals, you’re essentially shutting down your sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight) and switching on the parasympathetic system (rest and digest). This is the opposite of what you want during times of stress.
The key to staying razor sharp throughout your day is to limit the amount you eat.
Eating at work should help keep you alert and focused, while the nightly meal should nourish, rebuild and relax you. Stick with smaller meals during the stressful daily hours and have your largest meal at dinner.
You know why your coworker falls into a coma at 3 o’clock every day? His meal choices are subpar and he’s suffering the consequences. It doesn’t have to be like that, though. Here are a few things you can do to avoid the afternoon slump:
- Don’t overeat at lunch (top priority)
- Avoid high carb meals (pasta, pizza, etc.)
- Avoid snacking
- Stay well hydrated
Snack options: Don’t make these mistakes
Avoid snacking on carbohydrate-rich foods (the exception being fruit), as they will lead to unwanted blood sugar fluctuations and compromised mental processing power. Instead of relying on snacks to keep your energy up, make sure to eat properly at meal times and stay well hydrated throughout the day.
If you must have a snack, opt for a handful of nuts, a piece of dark chocolate or some fruit. Potato chips, rice cakes, gummy bears, muffins, sugary granola and “health” bars are detrimental to your performance and should be avoided.
Remember, when it comes to brain performance, the size of your meals is as important as the quality.
Thank you for reading