As the day wears on and you start to feel sluggish and sleepy, what is the first thing you reach for? A cup of coffee? A nice cold energy drink? Or perhaps a bag of potato chips or a chocolate bar? What you are eating, and drinking is impacting your body’s energy levels. The healthier you eat, the more energy your body will have throughout the day. Let’s discuss ten ways to fuel your body to boost your productivity and keep you energized.
The Standard American Diet is often referred to as the SAD Diet. Why is it SAD? Our diet is SAD because it is highly processed, full of solid fats, refined sugars, refined grains, and loaded with extra sodium (salt). It often has too many empty calories, and lacks fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fiber. Many people spend more time eating out at fast food establishments, and less time cooking healthy options at home.
To overcome the SAD diet and increase your wellness and energy, start by increasing the health of your diet. Having a good balance of healthy carbohydrates, fats and proteins, while adding in nutrient dense fruits and vegetables, you will start to boost your overall energy and optimize your wellness. Focusing on eating whole foods and clean foods, while removing processed and pre-packaged foods, you will increase the overall health of your diet.
Not all calories are created equal. Carbohydrates and proteins have 4 calories per gram, while fats have 9 calories per gram. When focusing on food for energy, it is important to eat the right combinations of calories, for maximum gains. If you were to eat a 100-calorie snack pack of crackers, you would get a short burst of energy, that would then rapidly decline. However, if you were to eat a cup of cooked broccoli with 6 almonds as a snack, the calories would also be just shy of 100 calories, but the energy produced from those foods would stay with you much longer.
The SAD foods that we often eat are actually food vampires. They are zapping away your energy and keeping you from looking and feeling your best. Food vampires include things like white bread, pasta and rice; breakfast cereals and yogurts that are loaded with sugar; fried food and fast food that are high in solid fats and low in fiber; and highly processed, packaged foods that are high in sodium and low in nutrients. These foods rapidly spike your blood sugar, causing quick energy spikes, with rapid energy drops, leaving you feeling drained and without energy.
It has been said that the best formula to increase your energy is to eat a fruit and vegetable, along with some whole grains, a lean protein, and a plant-based fat. If you were to use this formula for lunch, you could have a spinach salad, with some chopped grilled chicken, some sliced up avocado, and sprinkled with some chopped walnuts and blueberries. A squeeze of lemon with a little bit of pepper would also add in some extra flavor and seasoning.
Many women, and some men, are deficient in their iron and have increased fatigue and decreased energy as a result of this. By eating foods high in iron, you will notice an increase in energy levels with improved endurance and performance. High iron foods include things like red meat, beans, lentils, tofu, cashews, dark green leafy vegetables, and whole grains.
To boost your energy from food it is also important to focus on your snacking options. Instead of reaching for the bag of chips, that will give you a quick and temporary boost of energy, try having a healthy snack that will give you lasting energy. Cut up vegetables such as carrots, celery, peppers or cucumbers for a quick and healthy snack. Or perhaps reach instead for a handful of nuts with an apple. If you would rather a snack bar, work to try one that has only a few ingredients listed (like almonds, dates, and egg whites). If your snacks have ingredients in them that you couldn’t find at home, leave them on the shelf and seek a healthier version.
When shopping at the grocery store, shop the perimeter of the store first, then work your way into the aisles. You will notice that the healthiest options are on the outside portions of the store (like your fruits and vegetables), while the less healthy options reside in the aisles of the store (like your packaged and processed food options). Keeping your focus on the perimeter foods will bring foods into your diet that will boost your energy and optimize your health.
When focusing on food for energy, work to incorporate those food items that will give you the quick and sustainable energy. Top energy producing foods include things like blueberries, strawberries, cantaloupe, mango, peaches, spinach, salmon, oatmeal, sweet potatoes, beans, nuts, broccoli, avocado, and chia seeds. A great way to start your day off right with these energy boosting foods is to have a smoothie. Combining the fruits, along with some spinach and chia seeds, will give you a great energetic start to your day.
One of the best ways to know how your food is impacting your energy is to track your energy levels. Each day make a note of how your energy is feeling. Is it low, medium, or high? Next work to start improving what you are eating. Move away from the SAD diet and start adding in more fruits and vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats, and lean proteins. Eating more whole foods and clean foods (less processed and not packaged) will additionally boost your energy. As you change the way that you eat, keep writing down daily what your energy feels like, and watch it climb from low to high.
I would love to connect with you to optimize your healthy eating and assist you with your health goals and wellness. I believe in optimal wellness and vitality and are dedicated to helping you look and feel your best. I believe that it is never too early, or too late, to work towards being the healthiest you.