What to Eat for Lunch for a More Productive Afternoon

You need fuel to perform your best. And it makes all the difference whether that fuel consists of processed sugars or healthful, natural ingredients like protein and vitamins. Exhibit A: It wouldn't be Thanksgiving without a post-turkey nap, now would it?

So on days when you want to keep your energy levels up and your focus razor sharp well into the evening, skip the burgers, fries, and sugary soda, and opt instead for one of these energizing mid-day meals.

1. Spinach Salad

An excellent source of iron, spinach is a nutrient-loaded, low-calorie superfood that is one of the body's best energy producers. It's also affordable and readily available year-round.

Consider topping your spinach salad with a sprinkle of health-enhancing cranberries and energy-boosting mandarin orange slices or protein-packed almonds and sugar spike-slowing strawberries. You might also want to add a dash of chia seeds, which promote energy metabolism, regulate insulin levels, and help keep you hydrated.

2. Salmon and Brown Basmati Rice

Salmon is chock full of protein, vitamin B6, niacin, and riboflavin — all of which help convert the food you eat into energy. Lest we forget the other superpowers of this pink fish, such as its ability to lower cholesterol and reduce your risk of heart disease. We recommend enjoying a filet or two with a side of brown basmati rice, a whole grain that prevents blood sugar spikes and helps the body rev up for action.

3. Peanut Butter and Banana Sandwich

A fan favorite among athletes, bananas are a go-to food for energy and endurance. And one of the best ways to incorporate them into your lunch is to stuff fresh slices between two pieces of peanut butter covered bread. Peanut butter is full of protein and fiber, which give you a slow, sustained release of energy — a foolproof lunch choice for those of us who want to avoid that late afternoon slump. The carbohydrates in the sandwich bread will give your body even more fuel to last you 'til dinner time.

4. Crab Cakes With Edamame Salad

High in protein and low in fat, crab meat helps you feel full more quickly as it ramps up your metabolism. It's also rich in vitamin B12, which helps the body convert food into energy. Round out your meal with a side of edamame, a soybean packed with protein, magnesium, fiber, and B vitamins that help the body power up to its full potential.

5. Southwestern Corn and Black Bean Salad

A one-cup serving of corn has 5 grams of energy-building protein complete with all the essential amino acids. What it lacks is a sufficient amount of lysine to be considered a complete protein. That's where the black beans come in. Beans are packed with all the lysine your body needs to get that extra boost. Add sliced avocado to your salad for an extra boost from this fruit's 20 essential nutrients, which include fiber, potassium, vitamin E, B vitamins, and folic acid. It's a tasty lunch that's guaranteed to get you ready and raring to go for the rest of the day.

What's your usual workday lunch? Does it keep you going or slow you down? Tell us about it in comments!

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Food is fuel for the brain. So what should you be eating at lunch to keep your energy levels up and your focus sharp into the evening? We’ve got the lunch ideas for you with the best brain food tips. | #brainfood #lunchideas #healthylifestyle

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