Hacks to Beat the 3 pm Sugar Slump

by Paula Vargas 692 views Nutrition

Hacks to Beat the 3 pm Sugar Slump

You’re having a productive day at work, and suddenly, it’s 3 pm, and you’ve hit a wall. Before you know it, you’re heading for that chocolate bar or second coffee. Why do we feel the afternoon slump in the first place? Let’s have a look at our body’s natural rhythm.

When we wake up in the morning, that is the stress hormone cortisol doing its job. The release of this hormone starts to dip off in the afternoon, along with a decrease in body core temperature, which signals the brain to release melatonin. Experts claim that humans are inherently biphasic, meaning we are designed to sleep twice (nappers, rejoice!). However, most of you are probably at work during this time, and unless your workplace has sleep pods (thanks for setting the standard, Google), you may not have the luxury of taking time out for a meaningful siesta.

When we add sugar into the mix, which is easily absorbed and spikes insulin, not only does this add to our waistline but also the severity of the energy slump. For example, a big bowl of cereal with milk may be a traditional (and delicious) breakfast option; however, it does nothing for sustained energy release. As the fast release carbohydrates spike blood sugar for a quick burst of energy, an even quicker crash is inevitable.

Power through the day with these anti-slump hacks!

A diet for long-lasting energy and brain function

A high protein, high-fat breakfast will slowly release in your system, giving you the optimal brain function to get you through your workday. Running short on time? A whey protein blend or plant-based protein with a handful of nuts is a great way to start the day. For lunch, enjoy a mix of healthy fats, protein and complex carbohydrates (e.g. brown rice, sweet potato). For some, no carbs and a higher fat ratio (like keto) work best. Remember food is a source of energy, and if it’s been a while since you’ve eaten, then you may be feeling hypoglycaemic (low in blood sugar, which can lead to fatigue and dizziness). One of the reasons we crave sugar is because we haven’t given our body the proper nutrients to fuel ourselves.

Feel like a delicious snack that is great for sustained energy? Instead of wandering to the vending machine for a quick fix, choose something that is high protein and high fibre. Protein is shown in studies to make us more alert, and fibre slows down digestion and improves feelings of satiety. These high protein, low carb, and high fibre bars will satisfy your sweet cravings and provide sustainable energy:


Lust Natural Protein Bars by EHP Labs

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Noway Collagen Bar by ATP Science

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Vegan Protein Balls by Body Science BSc

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For a deeper, more restful sleep

The amount will vary between individuals, though the expert consensus would have optimal sleep time to be approximately 7-9 hours. Needless to say, if you’re skimping on the sleep, you’re going to crash at some point, or succumb to endless coffee top-ups. A quality Magnesium supplement will allow you to get deeper into recovery mode and support hundreds of processes in the body, lowering those pesky sugar cravings too. Did you know there are various types of magnesium, each with different benefits and absorbability? For example, the Genetix Adrenal Code contains magnesium glycinate, which is excellent for those suffering from anxiety or who would like extra support winding down in the evening. ATP Science’s ZMST contains magnesium citrate, which is a mild laxative, ideal if you find sluggish bowels is a concern. As always, contact us or visit your local store to discuss your individual needs, and always consult with a medical professional.

Supercharge your water

Even a small degree of dehydration can cause sluggishness and lethargy. If you’re a man, aim for 16 cups of water a day from fluid and non-fluid sources (e.g. fruits and vegetables) as an average, and 11 cups if you’re a woman. Instead of having a sugary soft drink, adding some Amino Acids can be a tasty way to keep hydrated and provide your body with the energy to soldier on without any sugar crash. Peak3d by Genetix is an Essential Amino Acid (EAA) and Branched Amino Acid (BCAA) blend with mushroom extracts to enhance your energy and mental focus, as well as electrolytes to promote hydration. Another great option is the naturally flavoured Amino Switch by Switch Nutrition, also containing EAAs and BCAAs, electrolytes and with the potent adaptogen, Schisandra.

Mind Power

Anytime you are doing something high on your values, blood, glucose, and oxygen goes into the forebrain and lights up the telencephalon (cerebrum), your ‘executive centre’. Dopamine is the natural energy boost that improves your drive to work hard and ride through that inevitable afternoon dip. A sweet treat would be an easy and quick dopamine fix, sure, but a more sustainable one would be doing work you love. If you can’t do that right now, then learning to love what you do will allow you to be more present at work and less susceptible to those band-aid fixes. Give your brain the extra support it needs with the power of nootropics - Mane Brain from Magnum Nutraceuticals is the ‘king of nootropics’ for increasing mental function, and Nutra Life’s Super Brahmi + Ginkgo Complex is another natural option for improving concentration and memory. For a tasty drink that will boost brain function and energy, control blood sugar and fight afternoon cravings, Keto Switch by Switch Nutrition as you covered.


Mane Brain by Magnum Nutraceuticals

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Super Brahmi Ginko Complex Caps by Nutralife

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Keto Switch by Switch Nutrition

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Final Notes

By implementing these tips and remembering to stand up, stretch and move the body, the 3 pm sugar slump will be a thing of the past as you will find yourself more productive, energised and inspired to make the most out of your day!

Aulsebrook, A., Aulsebrook, A. and Aulsebrook, A. (2019). The nature of sleep. [online] Lateral Magazine. Available at: http://www.lateralmag.com/articles/issue-23/the-nature-of-sleep

Cassidy, A. (2019). Clocking off: the companies introducing nap time to the workplace. [online] the Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/business-to-business/2017/dec/04/clocking-off-the-companies-introducing-nap-time-to-the-workplace

Charles L. Nunn, A. (2019). Shining evolutionary light on human sleep and sleep disorders. [online] PubMed Central (PMC). Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4972941/

Precision Nutrition. (2019). All About Dehydration | Precision Nutrition. [online] Available at: https://www.precisionnutrition.com/all-about-dehydration

Ruddick-Collins LC, Johnston JD, Morgan PJ, Johnstone AM. The Big Breakfast Study: Chrono-nutrition influence on energy expenditure and body weight. Nutr Bull. 2018;43(2):174–183. doi:10.1111/nbu.12323

ScienceDaily. (2019). Dopamine impacts your willingness to work. [online] Available at: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120501182755.htm

ScienceDaily. (2019). Mid-afternoon slump? Why a sugar rush may not be the answer. [online] Available at: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/11/111116124714.htm

Paula Vargas

Personal Trainer

I studied Law and Marketing at University, but my love for fitness and nutrition lead me to become a qualified PT and Precision Nutrition certified coach. 

If I’m not at the gym, you can catch me researching nutrition, supplements and human psychology. Let’s connect on Instagram! 

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