Boost your energy: How your diet can help you get more out of your day
Are your energy levels low? Does your busy morning come to the screeching halt of afternoon blahs? If so, you may need to boost your energy. I’m not talking about energy drinks or anything that comes in a pill form. I’m talking about a few changes to your diet that can help put more spring in your step and focus in your day. You need to change the way your mind sees the word “diet”. It’s not about deprivation and suppressing your cravings. It’s about choosing foods that have the most impact to your energy levels. Follow these guidelines and you’ll find an improvement in your overall health while boosting your body’s processes.
Eat nutrient-dense foods to optimize your metabolism. Your brain and body require vitamins and minerals to get everything accomplished in your busy day. Much like a car running low on gas, when you run out of nutrients to break down, your body becomes tired and your thoughts, sluggish. Metabolism is the process of converting food to energy, and the more nutrients per calorie, the more you benefit from eating it. Choosing vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds, whole grains, fruits, and lean animal proteins will give the most nutrients per calorie. Refined breads, fried and fatty foods, desserts and sweets, processed snacks and foods give a lot of calories but have little to no nutritional value.
Omega-3 fats are a high impact nutrient that improves your mood, memory, and thinking. They’re an excellent source of fat that you need to focus and improve your energy levels. You’ll want to get in at least one source of omega-3 fats a day. Fish, flax seeds, flax oil, hemp seeds, hemp oil, leafy greens, and walnuts are all excellent sources. While a fish oil supplement can help, it doesn’t replace the powerful impact of your body breaking it down itself.
Foods rich in antioxidants are essential to maintaining overall body health. Antioxidants are the clean up crew for your body. They take away damaging chemicals (some that your body makes on its own) that cause fatigue and lead to illness. Choose colorful fruits, vegetables, and other plant-based foods for antioxidant bursts. Berries, melons, dark leafy vegetables like kale, broccoli, collard greens, and spinach are excellent sources. Notice that leafy greens are also mentioned in the omega-3 fats above. Food rich in antioxidants are also nutrient-dense. That isn’t a coincidence. Once again, you want to eat the foods so your body can break it down and gain the most nutritional value. A bill or processed food will never give the same impact.
Don’t Starve Yourself!
Don’t skip breakfast OR snacks. Remember above where we mentioned that you need to change the way you think of the word “diet”? Breakfast jump starts your body’s processing system. It’s also a quick and easy way to get in some fresh fruit or other nutrient-rich foods first thing in the morning. If you get nauseous at the thought of food in the morning, consider a power snack for when you wake up completely. Snacking isn’t evil. But if your first instinct is to grab a bag of chips instead of a nutritious alternative, you’re not doing your energy levels any justice. If you’re hungry, your body crashes and it wants something quick and easy to process…like junk food. If you find yourself in that boat, make sure you have nutrient dense snacks to help you perk up.
Fantastic snack ideas include a container of yogurt topped with natural granola, a mix of nuts and dried fruits, whole grain crackers with baby carrots and hummus, a half cup of berries with walnuts, and more. Hummus is an excellent dip choice because it’s made of garbanzo beans (also known as chickpeas). While most versions require the use of Tahini (sesame paste), there are other versions that give a rich flavor without the paste.
Finally, what you drink has a powerful impact on your body. Keep hydrated means water. You want to drink one cup every couple of hours. An easy way to drink water on the go is by keeping a reusable bottle with you.
Alcohol intake is another thing to consider. Alcohol is a depressant that contributes to low energy. It also has the added effect of occasionally acting as a stimulant several hours later. That interrupts sleep cycles and causes fatigue. Did you know there is also a nutrient-dense option? A glass of red wine is a good choice because of its antioxidant content, but certain medications and those suffering from certain types of anxiety, high blood pressure, or dependence issues should avoid alcohol completely. Also note that red wine doesn’t replace a nutrient-rich diet. Alcohol should be an occasional indulgence.
Then there’s caffeine. Caffeine can’t stave off sleep for an extended period of time. It’s also not the energy boost you think it is. Regular coffee drinkers who feel a “boost” in the morning are actually counteracting the withdrawal effects of caffeine deprivation through the night. If you have to drink your caffeine, that’s fine, but consider adding an apple or apple juice to your morning routine since apples will wake up you faster and more thoroughly than coffee can.
Don’t try to make dramatic changes overnight. If you try to do a complete diet overhaul, you’ll fall back on destructive habits and feel like you’ve failed. Start small. Make sure you have at least nutrient-dense snacks a day. Then move to breakfast. Then your other meals. Before you know it, you’ll see a dramatic change in your energy levels that also benefit your overall health.