Eating For Energy
Do you often find yourself feeling sluggish and in need of an energy boost? In addition to getting plenty of sleep, the foods that you eat (or don’t eat) are very important to ensure you have adequate energy to get through the day and perform well at work, school or home. Here are some energy boosting tips:
Eat breakfast- Your mom always told you that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and she just may have been right. In addition to promoting a healthy weight, eating breakfast gives your body and metabolism a jump start for the day and helps to increase alertness and boost your energy and mood. Aim for a breakfast that includes some lean protein and whole grains to help you feel full and fueled until lunchtime. Examples include low-fat yogurt topped with fruit and whole grain cereal or a whole grain English muffin topped with peanut butter and banana slices and a glass of low-fat milk.
Don’t skip meals- In addition to eating breakfast daily, it is also important to provide your body and brain with additional fuel every few hours by eating meals or snacks. This will help prevent hunger and keep your blood sugar steady throughout the day. Eating regular meals and snacks also helps ensure that your body gets all the nutrients that it needs for health and disease prevention. Aim for nutrient rich meals and snacks that include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy and lean meats.
Power up with protein-Protein plays many roles including building, repairing and maintaining all of our body tissues. Protein also provides energy when our body is running low on carbs and fats and helps us to feel fuller and satisfied longer when it is included in meals. For energy boosting meals, make sure to include a source of lean protein such as lean meats, peanut butter, seafood, eggs or hummus.
Go easy on fat- Fat is an important nutrient and is necessary for health but it is important to choose heart healthy fats most often (such as poly and monounsaturated fats found in fish, olive and canola oil and nuts). Make sure to avoid high fat meals, which can leave you feeling like you need to take a nap.
Choose your carbs wisely- Carbohydrates are your bodies preferred source of fuel so you want to make sure to eat enough of them, but it is important to choose nutrient rich carbs such as those made from whole grains. Whole grains such as brown rice or whole grain breads, pastas and cereals provide important nutrients like B vitamins, iron and fiber and are slowly digested by the body so they help to keep your blood sugar and energy level steady. Avoid empty calorie, foods that are high in sugar but lack nutrients like regular soda, juice drinks and candy which can cause your blood sugar to rise and then plummet, leaving you feeling depleted of energy.
Stay hydrated- In addition to fueling your body throughout the day with food, staying well hydrated is another important way to fight fatigue. To increase your water intake, keep a bottle of water with you throughout the day to remind you to drink often. Also eat foods that are high in water content such as fruits and vegetables. Make sure to increase your fluid intake on hot days and during physical activity. To know if you are drinking enough fluids, check your urine. Dark-colored urine can be a sign that you are dehydrated, where colorless urine is a sign you are getting enough fluids.
Try this energy boosting recipe for Day Break Parfaits which make a nutritious and delicious breakfast or afternoon snack.