Holy cow! Here’s how food affects our performance at work

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Performance at work is not all tied to
intelligence, good habits, positive psychology and what have you, but it is
also important to consider what you eat. Those after lunch dips are definitely
something that you can prevent. Also, not all the food choices we make are
beneficial to our health.

Here’s how to get more out of your day and have
more energy.

Why you get an after lunch
dip

It is a
normal process to get tired after having lunch. This is because our bodies
actually have to use energy to process the food. When we eat glucose rich food
(white bread or cereals for instance), our body gets high on glucose. To
process the glucose the pancreas creates insulin to process this. Insulin in a
chain reaction creates tryptophan, which then leads to increased levels of
serotonin and melatonin which makes us sleepy.

Turkey,
chicken and other high protein foods can make us feel drowsy as well, because
these foods contain high levels of tryptophan.

To prevent
an after lunch dip, follow these tips:

  1. Eat a lot of whole grained food and
    vegetables. Avoid processed foods (e.g. cereals, juices, processed wheat
    products etc.) as these contain massive amounts of hidden sugars. Processed
    foods is also the type of food that makes us fat.
  2. Eat smaller portions during the day.
  3. Don’t skip breakfast, as it sets the
    energy level for the rest of the day.
  4. Stay hydrated.
  5. Avoid sugars.

But there’s more to feeling healthy the whole day and this is more controversial. If you want to get healthier, we should eat less meat. A lot less…

Why meat can be bad for
you

Meat is an
important source of protein, vitamins and minerals for many of us. However,
there are also important drawbacks of meat, which are an increased risk of a
lot of types of cancer, heart disease and Alzheimer disease.

This isn’t
enough to dissuade a lot of meat eaters. Same goes for me by the way, because I
love to eat a big tender steak once in a while. However, there are more adverse
effects that affect our day to day functioning.

Research
has shown that only two hours after eating meat, our arteries constrict up to
40 % and our blood also gets thicker. This prohibits the blood flow to our
muscles and to our brain. This effect lasts up to 7 hours. So if you want to
think quickly, it´s not smart to eat a lot of meat.

Spinach,
lettuce and carrots on the other hand, lets our veins expand and actually
increase our blood flow.

Meat also
is closely related to the amount of inflammation in your body. Therefore, if
you eat a lot of meat, the recovery time after disease or exercise takes
longer.

Myths about proteins
busted

Protein for top athletes

If food is
important for us “regular people”, it is extra important for top athletes.

On March 6,
2016 Nate Diaz entered the ring in an UFC fight against Conor McGregor.
McGregor, prior to the fight, ridiculed Diaz for his fully plant based diet. He
mentioned that he proudly ate triple A quality meat every day – as any alpha male is supposed to do.

What
happened in the ring though? McGregor got his ass kicked by Diaz, “the vegan
guy”. Maybe this gives reason to think that meat isn’t necessarily performance
enhancing?

Now surely,
Diaz was getting his proteins if he was able to defeat McGregor. Well, there
are plenty of proteins in vegetables.

How much protein is  in vegetables?

We need
protein. That’s a fact, no getting around this one. Our bodies are made up for
20 percent out of protein. We do not produce all proteins, which is why we need
to get our protein from our diet. When someone admits being a vegetarian or
vegan, the following question will inadvertently be asked:

“But how do
you get your proteins then?”

Well, an
average adult needs about 55 grams of proteins per day.

It is very
well possible to eat a sufficient amount of proteins on a plant based diet
only. From the proteins, we get the 22 amino acids (building blocks) that our
body needs. When we eat meat, we get all of those amino acids at once.

However, in
case we only eat one kind of vegetable, we will in general not get all amino
acids at once. For that, we need to vary our vegetable intake.

Hereby I
give you 6 examples of high protein vegetables. In this case, I used the amount
of protein which is the equivalent of 130 grams of pork loin (containing around
65 grams of protein):

  1. 250 grams of black beans
  2. 200 grams of lettuce
  3. 250 grams of lima beans
  4. 300 grams of tempeh
  5. 250 grams of soy beans
  6. 200 grams of hemp seed (can be used
    as a substitute for porridge). Hemp seeds contain all 22 amino acids that we
    need.

When you
vary your vegetable intake, you will get all your amino acids. For instance,
when you eat a whole grained sandwich with peanut butter, you already take in
all the amino acids you need.

Why do we believe that
meat is good, then?

So why do
we believe that meat is required to be healthy? The meat industry finances a
lot of research done on the topic. For each paper discussing the adverse
effects of meat consumption, a paper of the advantages of meat is published.
Kind of what the tobacco industry did decades ago, trying to disprove the
relationship of cigarettes and their adverse health effects.

The meat
industry had a lot of campaigns promoting the fact that we need to eat meat for
the protein. This is the reason why so many of us believe that we need to eat
meat for the protein, whereas we can also get this through vegetables.

In several
documentaries in which the producers are critical about meat consumption, they
show that a lot of NGOs and even semi-government agencies are sponsored by the
meat industry.

I just Googled, for instance, on the American Cancer society to see who the sponsors are. Several food companies pop up. Among other sponsors Tyson is mentioned, which is the second largest meat processing company in the world!

How in the hell are we going to get good advice from the American Cancer society on what to eat, if they are sponsored by meat processing companies?! The mere possibility of a link between cancer and meat should be enough to decline certain companies as a sponsor, I would say.

And this is
likely only the tip of the iceberg, as this example is just hiding in plain sight.
What about the sponsors that we do not see on the internet?

Changing your diet?

So should
you be changing your diet? Well the body of research of the adverse effects of
meat consumption is definitely something to consider. At a minimum, you should
stay clear of processed meat, as research is universally saying this is
unhealthy and causes cancer.

It is also
pretty clear that we should eat less meat. However, when doing some extensive
searching on the internet, I’m not sure if I should eating meat altogether. I
still eat meat occasionally, but eating less meat definitely has had some
advantages for me such as:

  1. I’m sick less often and if so, the symptoms
    are less severe.
  2. I don’t have as many after lunch- or
    dinner dips.
  3. My moods have generally improved.

And the
tips on eating less per meal but more frequently and adding more vegetables to
your diet are of course also beneficial.

So why not
try experimenting with a few of these tips throughout the day and experiment
how you feel when eating different types of food? It may also identify some
intolerances of which you weren’t yet aware.

That’s it
for this week. I hope you liked the article. If so, don’t forget to like and
share and see you back here next week for another blog post!

Sources:

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