How Lunch Affects Productivity At Work
Just as a healthy breakfast sets you up for a productive morning, it’s equally important to get a nutritious and healthy lunch if you want to maintain that productivity throughout the rest of the day.
A good way to ‘road test’ this is to pay attention to your own productivity and, when you have an especially good day, take note of what you ate for breakfast and lunch. You’ll probably find that you ate the right amounts of the right kind of foods on those days.
To put it simply, food is fuel. But to get peak performance from your body, you need to be careful about the type of fuel you put into it. That’s where a healthy lunch comes into play.
What impact does lunch have on afternoon productivity?
The effect your lunch will have on your body and brain will depend on what nutritional value is contained within the food you eat.
Sugar in the form of glucose is the main source of energy for the body and brain, and getting enough of this is essential to keep your mind focused and allow you to work through the afternoon without your attention starting to wander.
However, it’s not difficult to get enough glucose: most of everything you eat is converted into glucose inside your body. It’s the other nutritional content in a healthy lunch that is easy to get wrong.
For example, foods like cereal, bread and pasta are all popular in a quick lunch, but these all release glucose relatively quickly. You’ll get an immediate boost right after eating lunch, but you’ll notice your energy levels start to drop as the afternoon proceeds.
In contrast, foods that are high in fat – especially fast foods like burgers – can release energy over a longer period of time, but the body has to work harder to achieve this, which in turn lowers the amount of oxygen in the brain and can leave you feeling mentally sluggish.
Making the right decision
Choosing a healthy lunch is easier if you plan ahead and make sure you get the right combination of calories, carbs and protein. These will work together to keep you fuelled up through until 5pm and your evening meal.
Try to resist reaching for the nearest fast food restaurant, despite how quick and convenient they can be. Ultimately if you eat French fries and a cheeseburger for lunch, you’ll probably pay for it in lost productivity by the end of the day.
Instead, decide well in advance what you will have for lunch, whether that’s something you go out to buy during your lunch break, or something you take with you from home. A healthy packed lunch is an excellent way to maximise the time you get to relax, by removing the need to go out and queue to buy lunch from a shop.
Support it with snacks
We often take a negative view of snacking, but in fact it’s a great way to sustain energy levels, especially when done correctly. Don’t be afraid to have some healthy snacks around you, to give you a lift when your productivity starts to drop.
Eatlean Tasty Snack Bars provide 10g of protein with just 2.6g of saturated fat, so they’re a good source of sustained energy for your afternoon.
Eatlean SKYR pouches are also good if you have a sweet tooth. Their all-natural ingredients provide nearly 11g of protein per pouch, with zero saturated fat.
You can start to see the pattern here. While it’s crucial to get at least some calories and fat onboard to provide your body with a fuel source, it’s protein that will help your body and your brain to use that energy effectively over a longer period, so that you can concentrate all afternoon.
What to eat for a healthy working lunch
We have plenty of high-protein, low-fat lunch recipes that prove you don’t have to sacrifice on flavour in the pursuit of a healthy working lunch.
Quiche is a good option, as you can prepare it in advance, take as much as you need, and choose in the moment whether to snack on it cold or reheat it for a warm and satisfying lunch at any time of year.
Our Low Carb Low Fat Quiche Lorraine recipe uses the Eatlean Quiche Kit with a filling of egg and cheese, chopped bacon, cherry tomatoes and parsley. A quarter of a quiche gives you just 4.5g of total fat but over 20g of protein.
If you have an oven or toaster at work, try our Ultimate Low Fat Cheese Toastie. Two slices of bread spread with butter or margarine, Eatlean Spreadable Cheese and layers of Eatlean Tasty, then grilled until the bread is golden brown and the cheese has melted.
(If you only have a toaster, invest in some toaster bags which will allow you to make your cheese toastie without getting melted cheese all over the inside of your toaster!)
There are plenty more healthy lunch recipes on our website – just remember high protein, low carbs and relatively low calories, and you should be able to keep razor-sharp focus through to 5pm and beyond.