Ask a well being coach: is snacking okay?
Hey guys! Erin Power is back for another round of Ask a Health Coach. This week, she answers questions about overcoming the 3pm plunge, what to eat when you're constantly hungry, and strategies for speeding up a slow metabolism. Comment below with additional questions or check out Mark's daily Apple Facebook group.
“I get so tired in the afternoon. In fact, I have to take a nap sometimes. What can I eat to help overcome my daily 3pm slump? "
A feeling of loss of energy in the afternoon is so common that many offices actually have a bedroom. They also have a shipload of processed snacks, sugary coffee beverages, and vending machines so you can relax after your high-carb lunch.
Just because it's common doesn't mean it's normal. Sure, you might have a reaction to what you had for lunch. Some eating habits trigger blood sugar levels and a crash (Think pasta, pizza, giant subs, a handful of candy). If this is the case with you, then I have a better solution than handing out energy boosting snack ideas … or taking a nap.
- The lowest hanging fruit here is too Manage your post lunch sleepiness by swapping refined carbohydrates for filling and blood sugar stabilizing proteins and fats. Maybe a big ass salad or a leftover fried chicken and veggies with butter. Even a handful of mixed nuts is better than a sandwich.
- It isn't always food related, however. They have a natural loss of energy as part of human circadian biology. And it comes, you guessed it, towards the afternoon. Knowing that your body has a built-in lull that occurs around 3 p.m. is the best way to anticipate and plan accordingly. This means that you don't plan on overly strenuous tasks during this time. Instead, practice a little self-care and schedule 15 minutes of stretching, walking outdoors, or listening to energetic music.
- Another possibility for your break-in is mental strain. Even if your work day isn't overly stressful, everything else in the world is fine now. So make yourself comfortable again and notice how drained you feel every day. It could simply be that at 3 p.m. your brain (and central nervous system) is tapped to signal a reset (i.e. you need to take a nap). To avoid burnout, I like productivity apps like Focus Keeper. This is based on the Pomodoro technique and divides your day into 25-minute focus sessions, followed by 5-minute breaks.
- Of course, there is always a chance that you will not be breathing. And by not breathing, I mean that you are taking small, shallow breaths that are depriving your brain of oxygen. You may spend most of your day hunched over your computer, affecting your breathing and energy flow. The next time you feel that lunch break, think about the last time you took a good deep breath. Then sit up straight and take six slow, deep breaths.
Try any of these tips and I suspect you'll feel better pretty quickly without the need for a snack.
"I lost 40 pounds after the Primal Blueprint and have about 5 left. The problem is, I feel hungry all the time, so I either eat or try to knuckle white! How do I tame my hunger?"
You are not alone here, Valerie. This is one of the most common challenges I hear from my clients. "I would have done better this week, but I was so hungry!" Popular diet culture is that if you want to keep your blood sugar stable and hunger in check, eat healthy meals and snacks every 2-3 hours.
My opinion? You shouldn't have to feed your body every 3 hours to do any of these things. You shouldn't fear hunger either. We have all been led to believe that hunger is bad – that it is the only thing that stands between you and your weight loss goals.
Here is the deal. Hunger is actually a loving, protective signal from your wondrous body. It is one of your most primitive survival mechanisms. This is how your body ensures that you have enough fuel to function properly.
The clients I work with claim to be "constantly" hungry, which to me indicates that they are out of contact with their bodies. Sometimes it starts as a kid – when you were asked to finish your plate, whether or not you were hungry. And sometimes it's the ultra-processed foods you eat that mess up your hormones with no apology. Certain foods interfere with your ability to tell when you are full – they literally confuse your brain with the thought that you need to eat more.
Sugar-free or "diet" foods are no better. In fact, this study has proven that sugar substitutes, although calorie-free, adversely affect participants' metabolism, causing them to eat more.Even a can of diet soda can increase your appetite because your brain thinks you are getting something sweet, but your body never gets the energy it expects.
My solution? Step one: Throw away any processed or diet foods that you consume. That is, those labeled as "healthy" or "low in carbohydrates" or "low in fat". Step two: next time sit with your hunger and know that you are fine. I promise you won't starve to death. Even if you had zero pounds to lose, you would still have access to thousands of calories in stored energy.
Feeling like your only choice is to succumb to hunger and * fail * or really punish yourself and eat harder is not a great choice if you ask me. Work on trusting your body's signals instead of fearing them.
"Now that I'm in my forties, I can't even eat some fun candy bars without seeing them on the scales in the morning. Any tricks to speed up my metabolism?"
As a kid, you can probably eat what you want. Fun-sized joke bars, hell, even a couple of full-size candy bars wouldn't affect your weight, mood, or mental clarity. As you mentioned earlier, age has made it harder to pamper yourself when you feel like it, and possibly a "slow metabolism" is to blame.
For those who don't know Your metabolism is the body's system that determines how fuel is used and affects weight management, energy, and more. The uneducated will tell you that the extra five pounds around your midsection (or your brain fog or your blue feeling) is just a sign of getting older. They will say that your metabolism naturally slowed down because of your age.
That is absolute BS in my book. I believe that over time, your metabolism “forgets” to use fuel effectively – and it just seems to start storing it instead of burning it. But you can help your body remember it by making a few simple changes to what you eat and how you move about.
The goal is to become metabolically flexible. That means your metabolism gets to a place where it can effortlessly switch between carbohydrates and fat burning – leaving more room every now and then for a few goodies. All people who “can eat what they want”? These people have excellent metabolic flexibility.
How do you become metabolically flexible? Start exercising. And not in a chronic way. Take a daily walk, try some speed intervals, or add weight training here and there. Not only will this help you burn fat, but it will also increase mitochondrial biogenesis, a key factor in reversing the age-related loss of insulin resistance.
Next adjust fat. For a period of time, choose foods that are unprocessed and contain more protein and healthy fats. While you're at it, cut out all of the snacks. In all fairness, if you eat filling foods, you don't need them. While this may seem the opposite of what you want right now (eat candy without gaining weight), it will eventually allow you to indulge yourself without the same consequences to your waistline.
Do you have thoughts about snacking? Metabolic function? Hunger pains? Share them in the comments below.
About the author
Erin Power is the coaching and curriculum director of the Primal Health Coach Institute. She also helps her clients reestablish a loving and trusting relationship with their bodies – while restoring their metabolic health so they can lose fat and gain energy – through her own private health coaching practice, eat.simple.
If you are passionate about health and wellness and want to help people like Erin for their clients every day, you should consider becoming a certified health coach yourself. In this special information session hosted by PHCI Co-Founder Mark Sisson, you will learn the three simple steps to building a successful health coaching business in a maximum of 6 months.
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