I know, I know. I can’t persuade you guys to give up your morning cup of joe. But I do want to encourage anyone who’s up for it to try energizing with food rather than caffeine. Eating the right foods in the right quantity at the right time (for you!) can boost energy by providing sufficient calories, pushing metabolism to burn fuel more efficiently, and stabilizing blood sugar. Not surprisingly, the foods that give you the most energy also happen to be good for you. Below are some common energy drains and how to eat to avoid them.
- NOT ENOUGH SLEEP LAST NIGHT?
Whatever you do, DON’T SKIP BREAKFAST! Eat something with complex carbohydrates and fiber, along with a bit of lean protein and healthy fat for staying power. Oat products are some of the best sources of soluble fiber, so I think oatmeal in the morning is a no-brainer. Add nut butter or Greek yogurt for extra protein and ground flaxseed or fruit for fiber.
- IN A MID-AFTERNOON SLUMP?
Avoid white flour or sugar, which causes blood sugar to quickly spike and then plummet, leaving you fatigued and moody. When you get the afternoon munchies, reach for a banana and almonds. The banana contains potassium, which helps prevent stiffness that comes from sitting at a desk, while the almonds contain healthy fat and protein that will stave off hunger until dinner. Other nutrient-rich nuts include hazelnuts, cashews, and Brazil nuts. These nuts contain magnesium, a mineral that’s crucial for converting sugar into energy.Brazil nuts contain selenium, an antioxidant linked to preventing moodiness.
- DRAINED BY NIGHT?
Get your omegas! Omega-3 fatty acids, that is. Fatty fish, like salmon, contain a good amount of the stuff. Studies suggest that omega-3s may help protect against depression. Not to mention, they’re great for your heart. With your salmon, sample some dark leafy greens, like spinach or romaine. They also contain omega-3s. For dessert, try dark chocolate, which contain antioxidants and just a bit of caffeine to perk you up (if you’re super sensitive to caffeine, don’t eat dark chocolate right before bed).
- JUST TIRED IN GENERAL?
Eat some fiber! Fiber slows digestion, giving you a steady supply of energy all day. Snack on beans, whole fruits and veggies, andwhole grain breads/cereals to make sure you’re getting enough. Also, make sure you’re hydrated by drinking plenty of water. Nothing makes you feel tired like being dehydrated. If you’re really worn out, I’d suggest eating smaller meals or snacks more frequently. Sometimes, eating a huge meal makes me sluggish, but if I eat something small but nutrient-dense meals every few hours, I never feel hungry or low-energy. My final tip? Move! I know it’s somewhat counter-intuitive, but even a short walk around the block can help on those slow afternoons at the office.
Disclaimer: None of these tips will work if you aren’t getting enough sleep on a regular basis. Sleep deprivation is cumulative and can’t be resolved with one night of adequate sleep. I know how hard it can be for busy people to get enough sleep, but it pays off in so many ways to make it a priority. Studies show that there’s a link between sleep and weight loss. That’s partially because intense fatigue leads people to make food choices they wouldn’t otherwise. Talk to your doctor or a sleep specialist if you’re having a hard time getting enough.