Previously in Habit 2 we looked at Meal Planning and how it can be beneficial to your general health, finances and the environment as well but did you know that it can also affect your productivity?
Before you start dieting, it’s important to ensure that you’re getting the right amount of calories – too few and you’ll feel tired, sluggish, unable to concentrate and susceptible to illness, too many and you’ll pile on the pounds and feel other adverse health effects.
How To Find The Right Calorie Intake For You
Firstly, I am not a doctor and I would advise you to seek medical advice if you have a large amount of weight to lose or any medical conditions that may be affected by a change in diet or exercise levels. Right, disclaimer over, let’s get on with the article!
Everybody has a minimum amount of calories they need in order for their bodies to function. This “Basal Metabolic Rate” is how many calories you body will consume when it’s not exercising or digesting food and dropping below this level will cause serious damage to your body. You can find your Base Metabolic Rate here.
In terms of the amount of additional calories you need to take in, this will be dependent on whether you want to lose, maintain or gain weight, how active during the day you are and any additional exercise you do. Apps and Websites such as MyFitnessPal Read my review here can give you a daily calorie count based on activity levels and how much weight you’d like to gain or lose.
If you’re not sure where to begin with your calorie intake then make sure you check out Fitness Volt’s TDEE Calculator. This great web-based tool lets you enter your age, height, weight and exercise level and shows you your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE) so you can figure out your baseline calorie intake and expenditure and then work your exercise regime around these figures.
So, once you’ve found a safe calorie intake for you, let’s see what happens when you start a healthy diet.
How Does Diet Affect Productivity?
According to the Productivity Diet infographic from Hubspot you’re 25% more likely to perform better in your job if you’ve been eating healthily – that’s a huge performance increase for just cutting down on the doughnuts and eating a few extra greens! Well, okay it’s not quite as simple as that but you get the idea.
The infographic covers all of the major foods that you’ll be tempted to snack on and why some of them can be bad for your productivity.
The Harvard Business Review has a great explanation of how your body converts and uses the food that you eat and how you can make better food choices to maintain and increase your performance.
So, how can you make sure you eat a healthy and balanced diet?
1. Plan Ahead
As I wrote in my Meal Planning Post if you plan your breakfasts, lunch and dinners in advance it will save you a lot of stress and ensure you’re eating a balanced diet.
Planning ahead means that you can also see when you have time to make your lunches in advance making sure that you pick a healthy option rather than grabbing an unhealthy snack on the go.
2. Avoid Large Lunches
Studies have shown that eating smaller meals more frequently helps maintain a stable glucose level throughout the day which is great for productivity. How many times have you gone out for a big lunch and then just felt like napping when you got back to the office. Spreading your food out throughout the day will help you stay more focused as you’re not getting peaks and then troughs of glucose which cause you to be productive and then go into a slump.
3. Ditch The Unhealthy Snacks
Stay away from snacks like chocolate, crisps and cakes. Sure they may be convenient but they’ll also make you less productive. These types of food will give you a short burst of energy through the glucose in the sugar which will quickly dissipate leaving you feeling sluggish, which may impair your thought processes and leave you craving more sugar.
Foods that are are high in proteins such as nuts, “good” sugar found in fruit and complex carbohydrates such as celery topped with peanut butter will fill you up for longer and help you keep an even glucose level throughout your working day.
If you think you don’t have time to make or buy healthy snacks then why not get them delivered to your office? There are a variety of companies that will deliver healthy snacks to you:
4. Stop Buying Pre-Made Sandwiches
Did you know that the average worker can spend up to £7.81 a day on Sandwiches and snacks, that adds up to a whopping £90,000 over the course of your working life. Finances aside, shop-bought sandwiches aren’t necessarily that good for you (even the “healthy eating” ones) – in fact some sandwiches may contain as many calories as a burger!. If you must grab something when you’re out, try to grab a healthy salad but beware of any dressings, they could be packed with a tonne of fat! I bring my own salads to work using a Handy Salad Container like this one from Amazon (affiliate link) so I can bring my own dressing.
5. Get Away From Your Desk At Lunch
When you’re used to eating at your desk you become almost blind to the food picking you do and because you don’t remember eating you’ll feel hungry again soon. If you’re able to get away from your desk to have your food elsewhere – whether that be in a canteen or a bench in a the local park- try to make your lunch separate from your work.
Also, getting away from your desk will give you a well deserved break and some much needed exercise plus you’ll clear your mind so when you return to work you’ll feel refreshed and ready to crack on.
Over To You
Do you have any tips for keeping up a healthy diet at work? Let us know in the comments.