By Guest Blogger: Gerry Morton
Are you in an energy crisis? Lack of sleep, stress, limited physical activity, and even a busy schedule can make it a struggle to get through the day. The good news is that these simple tricks can maximize your energy levels throughout the day. And, no, the secret isn't in energy drinks. We're talking natural, healthy ways to boost energy and fight fatigue.
Ph: Marina Fernandes
1. Balance your plate (or smoothie)!
In other words, never eat carbs alone. While carbs are the main source of fuel for your body's trillions of cells, you don't want to eat them alone. This would only result in a quick pick-me-up followed by a quick drop in blood sugar levels.For sustained energy that lasts longer periods of time, balance out carbs with healthy protein and fat sources. Including all three food groups results in a slower emptying of your stomach, a steady-paced digestive process, and a slow release of "fuel" into the bloodstream.
Smart carbs include fiber-rich fruits and veggies and whole grains. Healthy lean proteins include lean meats, poultry, or fish, low or non-fat dairy, pure whey protein powder, eggs, or cheese. Balance these out with healthy fats from nuts, nut butter, seeds, seed butter (tahini, pumpkin seed), avocado, or extra virgin olive oil.
2. Improve your mood to improve your energy!
It's true. Better moods are strongly associated with feeling more energized! Studies have shown that diets rich in antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids can improve mood and overall cognitive function. Some of the richest sources of antioxidants are fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains. As a rule of thumb, aim to eat at least two fruits and/or veggies with each meal plus one at snack time. An easy way to get more antioxidant-rich veggies into your day is using an organic green drink powder that typically packs as much as 3-5 servings of antioxidant-rich veggies into one scoop.
Also, don't let a day go by without including any of the top sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 superfoods include walnuts, flax seeds, chia seeds, cold water fatty fish (especially mackerel, salmon, cod, and herring), dark leafy green veggies, and omega-3 eggs.
3. Eat often. By "often" we mean every 3 to 4 hours.
Give your body something to work with. One of the most common energy-zapping mistakes is consuming only 1 or 2 meals a day. Your brain, muscles, and even digestive organs need fuel to keep going. Going too long without proper fuel forces the body to slow down in order to conserve energy and burn fewer calories.
Not only do energy levels plummet, but also your body will start to tap into its fuel reserves, such as your precious lean muscle mass, for energy! Preserve your muscle mass by giving your body a steady supply of nutrients every so often.
Ph: Beta Dias
4. Snack with a purpose!
This is one of the best ways to follow #3! Remember, snacks help bridge the gap between meals. Look at them as mini-meals - they need to be just as balanced and nutritious as your meals. Just smaller. For lasting energy, create a snack with at least two food groups such as fiber-rich carbohydrate and lean protein. It can be as easy as grabbing a banana with a handful of nuts or low-fat Greek yogurt with 1/2 cup of blueberries.
5. It goes without saying, cut out energy-zapping foods!
We have to say it anyway since many continue to rely on sugary snacks and drinks, sodas, and energy drinks for a short burst of energy. Once that short burst peaks, it is quickly followed by a quick crash. Plan ahead for mid-afternoon slump or the long commute home by bagging a healthy snack instead.
6. Drink! More! Water!
We often confuse thirst with hunger. Did you know it's easy to confuse thirst for fatigue? Even mild dehydration will leave you feeling sluggish and tired. Bored with water? Throw in a few slices of lemon, lime, orange, cucumber or some frozen berries.
Tote that water bottle all day long. Aim to drink a glass with each meal and snack. If you need to, set a reminder on your phone.
Ph: Beta Dias
7. Don't Overdo it.
Overeating is as tiring as undereating. It takes energy to digest food and you may end up feeling lethargic if your body has to work "overtime" to digest the excess amounts. Remember to stop when comfortably full.
8.Take a walk!
This one may not be directly related to your diet but it works, it's easy, and you don't need any equipment or special gear. In fact, a 2017 study published in the journal Physiology & Behavior found that a brief bout of stair-walking (for as little as 10 minutes) is more energizing than a low dose of caffeine.
About the Author:
Gerry Morton is the CEO of EnergyFirst, holds an MS in Nutrition and is an experienced athlete who has competed in 30+ marathons and 4 Ironman triathlons. Gerry is an excellent source of information on nutrition, supplementation, and exercise. Read his blog here. Twitter: @EnergyFirst