BLR: How about caffeine—is that a problem?
JM: I’ve always been fine with caffeine, obviously in limited amounts. Caffeine is a very mild stimulant. As long as you are not having 5 to 6 cups a day, it’s OK. It’s been shown to improve mental acuity and athletic performance.
So a cup in the morning and another cup during the day is fine. What I’m more concerned about is the other things going into the coffee and other energy drinks, such as sugar and high fat dairy from creamer.
At Starbucks, if you have a medium frappachino, a grande, that’s probably 500 calories. Energy drinks in a big can, 250 calories.
Actually, coffee itself is an almost calorie-free beverage—just about 5 calories a cup. So if you’re having, say, coffee with tablespoon of half and half creamer and even two teaspoons of regular sugar, that’s only about 50 calories. So relatively speaking it’s modest.
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BLR: What’s the best thing for fending off the afternoon slump?
JM: Caffeine may help, but I think that for many people that 2 p.m. or 3 p.m. crash is more of a blood sugar issue. People eat a large amount of food at lunch. Their blood sugar goes up and they feel energized. But what tends to happen with most people, the body responds and the blood sugar drops to below what it was before the meal.
When blood sugar is very low, you start to feel very lethargic. So the slump has more to do with the food than the actual mental energy levels.
A good solution is to have a more modest lunch. Save maybe a quarter or half of your lunch and then consume that during the afternoon slump period. Or, have a modest lunch and then a snack—yogurt, pretzels, or a piece of fruit, for example. Keep that stream of food steady during the day.
BLR: What about managing the slump with snacks from the snack machines?
JM: Anything nut based like trail mix or a handful of nuts is fine. A small bag of potato chips won’t hurt, but it won’t fill you up very much. Pair it with carrots or piece of fruit. That will be better for you and more satisfying.
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