Most Americans are busy and productive individuals with over-scheduled. stressful lives. This is often combined with poor sleeping and eating habits. No wonder why most of us feel drained on a daily basis!
We all want to feel well-rested, alert and energetic, but for many of us it feels like an unrealistic dream.
Fatigue breaks us down both emotionally and physically. It is an enemy to the immune system and makes us more vulnerable to depression and illness. But we can make a change in our daily habits that will boost energy and make you feel wonderful. Stress management, regular exercise and eight hours of sleep are important in keeping up your energy, but our eating habits also directly affect this because they are our fuel. Here are some ways we can use nutrition to boost energy through the day!
1. Consume Nutrient Dense Foods
Converting food to energy requires an abundance of vitamins and minerals. Each cell in the human body can unlock energy potential with the proper fuel from food. When the body does not receive enough fuel from food, it becomes sluggish and tired. Choose foods that contain lots of nutrition per calorie. These foods include veggies, nuts, seeds, beans, fruits, whole grains, and lean protein. Fried fatty foods, processed foods, desserts, and refined breads give the body lots of calories but little nutrition. Your body will feel much healthier if you stick to whole foods.
2. Eat those Antioxidants
Antioxidants are scavengers of damaging chemicals in the body that cause fatigue and lead to illness. There are thousands of natural protective antioxidants in vegetables, fruits and other plant based foods that a pill or processed foods will never come close to what you get from whole foods. Seek out the colorful , juicy fruits like melons and berries, and dark green leafy vegetables like broccoli, collard greens, kale and spinach.
Omega-3 fats improve mood and memory which are related to focus and energy. Try to get at least one omega-3 fat per day: fish, flax oil, flax seeds,hemp oil, hemp seeds, leafy greens, or walnuts. Omega-3 supplements can help but they should never replace a healthy diet.
4. Do Not Use the Word DIET
Dieting can lead you to skimping out on nutritious calories which ultimately can decrease your metabolism ans your body tries to conserve all the energy it can. That is why individuals on a strict diet can sometimes feel lethargic. When the metabolism slows down, the body burns even fewer calories, leading to a slower rate of weight loss. Then when more calories are consumed, weight gain is usually the result. So, in order to keep your energy levels high and your metabolism boosted , be sure to meet your calorie needs throughout the day. Slow, steady weight loss is achieved with physical activity and sufficient calorie intake. This is the most effective way to maintain healthy weight for life. (Ask your weight loss provider how many calories you should be aiming for each day.)
5. Breakfast is Important
It is very easy to skip breakfast in the morning. You may feel good about skipping breakfast to conserve the calories for later in the day, but it hurts you in the long run. Studies have shown that eating a good breakfast not only jump starts your metabolism but it also helps you stay alert and feel more satisfied until lunch time. Healthy breakfast eaters set the stage for a whole day of healthy eating. A healthy breakfast keeps you on track. Swap out the donuts, white bagels, cereal, and pastries of a more healthy option including fresh fruit, whole grain hot or cold cereal with seeds or nuts, or whole grain bread with nut butter.
6. Snacks are Important
Maintaining a steady supply of food energy throughout the day keeps your energy and blood sugar level up. When you allow yourself to get too hungry it causes your blood sugar to crash, leading to cravings for junk food and feelings of sluggishness. But it is important to choose your snacks wisely. Healthy snacks do not come from a vending machine; these snacks will only leave you feeling more tired than before. Real whole foods is the best source of real energy. Combining complex carbs with protein and fat provides the lasting energy our bodies crave. The fiber, proteins and fat slowly release sugar into the blood which helps prevent overeating and energy swings.
This is a very easy way to keep your body energized. Our bodies need water to function properly. Forget about all the energy drinks and vitamin waters out there, just keep a fresh source of water with you at all times. Drink at least one cup of water every two hours.
8. Keep Away from Alcohol
Alcohol will lower energy and is a depressant. It will disrupt your sleep cycle and cause major fatigue and lack of motivation the next day. Cutting down on those liquid calories improves energy and dramatically improves weight loss.
Sometimes after drinking a cup of coffee you feel as though you got an energy boost. This is not true energy, it is a drug effect. You are bound to feel a short-term boost, but when it wears off and the body realizes it has no real energy source the result is hunger and exhaustion. These feelings are typically followed by overeating. Caffeine should only be used occasionally as a temporary energy boost, such as to keep focused during a meeting or to stay alert during a long drive. Over use of the stimulant can be problematic. Try green tea instead. Green tea provides beneficial antioxidants as well as the amino acid theanine, which assists in keeping you stay calm and focused. Always check with your provider or nutritionist when adding in antioxidants to your eating pattern. It is important that the antioxidants do not interfere with any medications your may be currently prescribed.
10. There are Lots of Power Foods to Choose From
Try and incorporate some power foods into your diet.
- Almonds ( or other nuts)
- Watercress, Kale, Arrugula, Collards, Spinach etc…
- White Beans, Lentils, Black Beans etc…
- Flax Seeds (grind the flax seeds before adding them to food)
- Dates ( or other dried fruit – keep this in moderation)
- Blackberries, Strawberries, Blueberries, Raspberries etc…
- Edamame (young whole soy beans)
- Sea Vegetables (nori, dulse, hijiki etc)
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