Fight afternoon slump with protein, not sugar rush: study

To combat mid-afternoon energy crashes, new research suggests reaching for a protein-rich snack instead of sugar-laden treat is the way to go.

It’s a common habit among workers who hold day jobs: come 3 pm or so, candy bars are unwrapped and sugar-laden beverages pried open. The objective? A sugar rush to fend off mid-day drowsiness.

But scientists out of the University of Cambridge have found that protein -- not sugar -- is what activates the cells that make people alert and burn calories. The study was published in the November 17 issue of the journal Neuron.

Orexin cells secrete an important stimulant in the brain called orexin/hypocretin. When the body doesn't have enough, it can lead to narcolepsy and weight gain. After comparing how different nutrients affect these cells, researchers found that amino acids -- which are found in proteins like egg whites -- stimulate the orexin neurons more than others while glucose lowers their activity.

Moreover, the amino acids also worked by preventing glucose from blocking the activity of orexin cells. In other words, the amino acids worked as a defensive shield against the sugar's offensive assault.

The new findings may explain why protein-rich meals can make people feel less calm and more alert than carbohydrate-heavy meals, researchers added.

"Sleep patterns, health, and body weight are intertwined. Shift work, as well as poor diet, can lead to obesity," said lead researcher Denis Burdakov in a release.

Meanwhile, a study out of the University of Missouri this spring also found that eating a protein-rich breakfast can increase satiety and help stave off hunger pangs throughout the day.

"To combat obesity and insomnia in today's society, we need more information on how diet affects sleep and appetite cells. For now, research suggests that if you have a choice between jam on toast, or egg whites on toast, go for the latter,” Burdakov said.

 

  • Popular hot yoga myths debunked 5 hours ago
    Popular hot yoga myths debunked

    What’s the hottest new workout taking the world by storm? That would be hot yoga, also known as Bikram yoga. Conducted in a heated room with sweltering temperatures of about 40°C (or approximately 104° Fahrenheit) and 40 per cent humidity, … Continue reading →

  • Thursday #sgroundup: Body found of boy who made first call from Korea ferry: report 6 hours ago
    Thursday #sgroundup: Body found of boy who made first call from Korea ferry: report

    Here are today’s top trending stories in case you missed them.

  • Look, don't touch: Flickr photo of the day 17 hours ago
    Look, don't touch: Flickr photo of the day

    If there's one car that's particularly sought-after among today's well-heeled car collectors, a Ferrari 250 would be it. Usually it's the GTO variant, like the 1963 that sold for a record $52 million last year. A 250 of any sorts demands unfathomable cash, however, which is why we can but gawk at this 250 Testa Rossa. It's as close as any mere mortal will ever come to owning one.

  • Photo of a very thin Lee Kuan Yew sparks concern
    Photo of a very thin Lee Kuan Yew sparks concern

    A new picture of Singapore's first prime minister, Lee Kuan Yew, who is now 90 years old, has drawn concern from people on Singapore's internet space.

  • Waste oil collector struggles after STOMP posts, receives help from kind souls
    Waste oil collector struggles after STOMP posts, receives help from kind souls

    After being photographed at work in Jurong pooling used oil near coffee shops, 50-year-old Valerie Sim has been struggling to keep her family afloat. Web portals STOMP and The Real Singapore published pictures of her in February, triggering a witch hunt for others like her and comments from readers like “Who knows if they’ll use it as cooking oil?” Some readers also said they filed police reports against her and other people they believed were doing the same thing she was.

  • Indonesian general says his flashy watch is a fake
    Indonesian general says his flashy watch is a fake

    JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Indonesia's military commander said critics who called him out for wearing an especially luxurious watch should be quiet because the timepiece is actually a cheap Chinese fake.