Afternoon Sleepiness? Eat Protein, not Sugar, to Stay Awake & Shed LBS!
Pamela Peeke, MD, MPH, FACP posted:
Hi everyone. Want a royal win win? Next time you start feeling like nodding off in the afternoon grab some healthy protein (Greek yogurt, protein shake, 2-3 oz chicken/turkey/fish, peanut butter on apple slices, nuts, low fat cheese, hard boiled eggs, low fat cottage cheese) and you'll not only stay awake but you'll be more likely to drop weight as well. Pretty cool, eh?

New research published in the Nov 17 issue of Neuron helps us understand how weight, health and sleep are intertwined. It turns out that special cells in the brain, orexin cells, send electrical impulses stimulating wakefulness as well as telling the body to get busy and burn calories. Whatever we do, we want to keep these cells really happy.

In this latest study, reseachers found out that it was not fat or carbs that optimally stimulated the orexin cells. Instead, it was amino acids, the building blocks of protein. For that matter, the amino acids blocked the effect glucose has on orexin--- that is, it's glucose that increases sleepiness. Protein blocks this effect and keeps you more awake and cookin' your calories.

Here's another valuable lesson from this new science. It turns out, it's not about the calories, but instead nutrient balance. When you have a choice of jam on toast or a protein rich Greek yogurt, head for the yogurt for sure. The brain is sensing nutrients, not calories, as it reacts to what you're eating. Even if the yogurt had more calories, the end result of choosing to eat it over the toast is you'll have a greater sense of satiety, wakefulness (great for the afternoon), and more calories burned. This is also another reason to make sure to finish eating your dinner at least 2 hours prior to going to bed. For many people, it's hard to sleep when you've just eaten protein, so watch your nocturnal timing as well.

Finally, plan your day so that your protein-rich mid-afternoon snack is handy while you're at work or running about doing your thing all afternoon.

This afternoon, give it a healthy protein whirl and let us know how you did!

Happy day to all of you,

Dr. Peeke
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Haylen_WebMD_Staff responded:
Great information Dr. Peeke!

I had a hard boiled egg and some caffeine free tea yesterday instead of my usual iced coffee and handfull of "whatever".

It worked!

Did anyone else try?

Tomato05 responded:
I agree. Lean protein is perfect, especially when paired with fiber from a veg source. I put a handful of parsley and some alfalfa sprouts with my egg-whites.

Also, move the body to fight off the sleepiness, even a brisk few steps may help. I used to clean my desk when the afternoon dopes hit - I kept gloves, a sponge and surface spray in my drawer and would vigorously scrub everything at my workstation, even my chair and its legs! I had the cleanest work area in the office...
Haylen_WebMD_Staff replied to Tomato05's response:
Tomato, I love the cleaning idea! And calling it the "afternoon dopes" is perfect.

Tomorrow I'm going to try peanut butter and apple slices. But not this peanut butter:

Smucker's Chunky Peanut Butter Recalled: Salmonella Suspected in Peanut Butter Sold in 24 States

Chunky is my fave...

katurnbow replied to Haylen_WebMD_Staff's response:
I am going to try that. One thing I found also is that when I juice (which is mostlyy veggies) I dont get that sleepy feeling. It is because of the amount of nutrients that are able to be delivered to my body. But I am going to look at drinking the tea as I heard this all day may help reduce belly fat.
LWTG123 responded:
I didn't see nuts included in your list of afternoon protein snacks. Would peanuts, almonds, etc. qualify as a protein boost to help stave off drowsiness?
jbeard0828 replied to Haylen_WebMD_Staff's response:
Going to try this.
peterperkins responded:
nice tips,definitely going to help