Foods to eat when you're underslept but need to be alert
August 16, 2018 6:38 AM   Subscribe

Let's say you had insomnia the night before a day at work where you needed to be really alert. You're already caffeinating, but you should really put something in your stomach, but eating usually makes you groggy. What would you eat?
posted by coffee and minarets to Food & Drink (20 answers total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
posted by flabdablet at 6:41 AM on August 16, 2018 [10 favorites]

Eat lightly- maybe start with a boiled egg or a banana (both great simple foods). Hydrate. Work out, if you have time and take a shower.
posted by arnicae at 6:43 AM on August 16, 2018 [1 favorite]

Eggs are really a great blast of protein and fats to get you going. Oatmeal is a great slow carb hit as well. Toast with peanut butter is another. Water is also going to help get your brain going especially since tea or coffee can have a diuretic effect and draw water from you.

I’d avoid anything with a high sugar content like a lot of breakfast pastries or smoothies. They’d spike you with sugar but likely lead to a crash.
posted by bitdamaged at 6:47 AM on August 16, 2018 [8 favorites]

Something with lots of water content and a good fibre:sugar ratio, like an apple or grapes, and then maybe a SMALL portion of something fatty, like cheese or a boiled egg.
posted by one of these days at 6:53 AM on August 16, 2018 [1 favorite]

I would do an overnight oats type thing - slow carb + protein + a little sugar to jump-start your day.
posted by coppermoss at 6:54 AM on August 16, 2018

My go-to breakfast these days is some sort of ultra-whole-grain toast with almond/peanut/whatever butter and some raspberries/sliced strawberries/whatever on top. It's quick and it's a sturdy breakfast without being too heavy.
posted by helloimjennsco at 6:55 AM on August 16, 2018 [1 favorite]

For me? Protein. And something spicy. My go-to is some variation of an egg sandwich with hot sauce, but I either get a very modestly-sized sandwich or I just eat half so that I'm sated but not stuffed.
posted by desuetude at 6:58 AM on August 16, 2018

2nding protein. For me, scrambled tofu, a (thin) American biscuit (scone) with veggie sausage in the middle, sliced quorn roast, ramen with a lot of silken tofu in it, nuts, or high-protein beans like lentils or edamame.

This avoids the comedown from a sugar spike.

Also: lots of water.

Also: minerals, especially potassium. That's found in bananas and (these have more sugar, unfortunately) popcorn and watermelon. Also, there's a surprising amount of potassium in V8 drink -- get the regular version if you try this, since tasting good is kind of important -- if you get the low-salt version and don't like it, you basically just won't drink it.
posted by amtho at 7:05 AM on August 16, 2018 [2 favorites]

Ideally something low glycemic and high protein. If you are looking for something that requires no preparation and is easily available, I suggest one of the low glycemic Kind bar options.
posted by jazzbaby at 7:09 AM on August 16, 2018 [2 favorites]

Minarets, obviously.

Oatmeal with nuts, I think - something that will keep me full for long enough that I won’t have to think about food again for a few hours. Seconding the low glycemic index + some protein recommendation, basically.
posted by eirias at 7:20 AM on August 16, 2018 [1 favorite]

Greek yogurt or other protein dense dairy, or scrambled eggs, are usually easiest on a sleepless queasy stomach for me.
posted by I claim sanctuary at 7:21 AM on August 16, 2018

I used to work intermittent 9PM-4:30 AM overnights with a second shift at 6AM-12:00. Coffee plus two cheeseburgers (no fries) was always perfect for this.
posted by blnkfrnk at 7:27 AM on August 16, 2018

On the theme of “slow carbs”, if you go with peanut butter on toast you'd probably want whole wheat bread with the highest fiber content you can get.
posted by XMLicious at 7:36 AM on August 16, 2018

Melon seems good for this.
posted by gaybobbie at 9:31 AM on August 16, 2018

Oatmeal with nuts, dried fruit (a little), and a spoonful of peanut butter mixed in.
posted by amanda at 9:46 AM on August 16, 2018

+1 something spicy. Caffeine via coffee/tea never works for me but I remember being shocked at how well a spicy lunch kept me awake at the office.
posted by Sockin'inthefreeworld at 10:03 AM on August 16, 2018

Green tea with honey, banana and peanut butter maybe with a slice of ezekiel bread, cottage cheese with microwaved frozen raspberries mixed in or jam.
posted by lafemma at 10:43 AM on August 16, 2018

Protein plus a couple of B complex supplement capsules. You'll probably want to carb up later in the day.

Source: mom of small children; in other words- chronically underslept.
posted by vignettist at 12:44 PM on August 16, 2018 [3 favorites]

I would whack open a can of tuna and snarf that mofo.
posted by zadcat at 5:05 PM on August 16, 2018 [1 favorite]

Avocado, melon, walnuts, oatmeal, toast with peanut butter and banana, berries, eggs, dark chocolate
posted by winterportage at 10:41 AM on August 17, 2018

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