We get it. Sometimes, it’s hard to schedule a lunch break. You get busy, and it’s easier just to work through lunch and get your tasks finished. This is often a bad idea. While forgoing your mid-shift meal can seem like a great short-term productivity move, it can cost you in the long run.
But don’t take our word for it…science will give you the same advice: don’t skip your lunch break.
They call breakfast “the most important meal of the day.” Maybe that’s true. But it shouldn’t turn lunch into an optional treat, meant only for days when your work gets surprisingly light. Having a mid-shift meal break allows you to stay productive and maintain high levels of overall health.
When we think about burning calories, we usually think of extreme physical activity – running a 5K, lifting weights, or taking a long bike ride. And while those activities undoubtedly require a lot of energy, on a day-to-day basis, your brain burns a surprisingly high proportion of your calorie intake.
According to Scientific American, the brain uses about 20% of an average person’s resting metabolic rate. This, despite only representing about 2% of the average person’s total body weight.
The consequence of this: you burn a surprising number of calories just sitting at a desk, running through your daily tasks. You might not “feel the burn” the way you would in a Zumba class. But, thinking hard can wear you down. This dynamic makes a mid-shift refueling an important way to keep your energy levels up.
After all, marathoners eat sports gels and energy chews to get the calories they need to get through a long race. Think of your workday like that. You need the extra energy a lunch provides, in order to have the stamina necessary to make it over the finish line. (The finish line, in this case, defined as those post-work happy-hour apps).
Not Just Work, But Work
We’ve seen how even a relatively sedentary job ends up burning more calories than you think. Well, that’s just the beginning. Many positions have a large amount of physical labor involved as well.
Take an Amazon warehouse worker as an example. One estimate suggested that a picker at an Amazon facility can walk more than 12 miles during a shift. At least one worker arrived at an even higher projection, calculating that they trudged 30 miles or more during a day.
This leads to a significant amount of energy burned during a shift. Let’s use the typical approximation of 100 calories per mile walked. With that estimate, a warehouse worker could burn somewhere between 1,200 and 3,000 calories per shift. (And that doesn’t even take into account all the bending, lifting, and carrying a warehouse picker would also have to perform throughout their shift.)
That’s just one example of a physically demanding job. Positions like a masseuse, police officer, and custodial worker each burn about 200 calories per hour. That equates to about 1,600 calories per shift. Meanwhile, construction workers burn about 300 an hour, while farmers can push above 475 per hour. Topping out the list is a firefighter, who can run through nearly 750 calories an hour when doing their most intense activities (though they don’t climb ladders and drag hoses for eight hours at a time during every shift.
The bottom line: no matter what you do for a living, you’re going to end up burning a significant amount of energy during your workday. To keep your performance up, it’s important to refuel.
A lunch break provides an excellent opportunity to get the calories and nutrition you need to stay productive throughout the shift. It also provides some mental benefits as well. A mid-day break allows you to gather your thoughts and keep your spirits up during a long change. It’s the key to maintaining a strong performance over the long term.
Getting ahead in your career involves giving your best every day. A healthy lunch helps you achieve this. It also helps to have a job that you love. By partnering with a strong recruiting firm, like Recruiting In Motion, you can find the perfect position for your skills and background.