What you eat, when you eat, and how much you eat all contribute to your energy levels physically, emotionally and mentally. Try on some of the nutritional tips below and see if you don’t begin to feel more energized and focused throughout your day.
Hectic, busy, frantic, exhausting! These are the words so many of my family, friends, clients, and colleagues use to describe their days. Everybody wants more energy, but nobody seems to have the time to take to reevaluate his or her habits, and work towards change. It’s a vicious cycle. Laments of being out of shape, but no time to exercise. Not getting enough sleep, but needing to stay up to finish tasks and projects. Being pulled in all directions from work and home demands, leaving us stressed and emotionally exhausted.
And although many of the above lifestyle habits contribute to fatigue and lack of energy, one area that isn’t often thought about is nutritional intake. What you eat, when you eat, and how much you eat all contribute to your energy levels physically, emotionally and mentally. Changing our habits is challenging, and takes enormous focus. However, small changes taken one step at a time can lead to big changes in the way we feel. Try on some of the nutritional tips below and see if you don’t begin to feel more energized and focused throughout your day.
1. Eat often. Food is fuel for the body. Without it, we just don’t function well. Eat every 2 ½ to 3 hours, and never go more than 4 hours without eating. This will keep your blood-sugar levels even, and give you the constant fuel needed to get through your day.
2. Eat light. When we overeat, we are left feeling sluggish, fatigued and unfocused. Learn to recognize your body’s signal of satiation. It takes the body approximately 20 minutes to digest and no longer feel hungry. Eat slowly, stop and check in on how you’re feeling. As soon as you feel satisfied, you’ve had enough.
3. Never skip breakfast. When you awake, you come off a 10-12 hour fast. All foods convert to glucose, and glucose equals energy. Give your brain and your body the fuel it needs to begin the day with energy and focus.
4. Eat within one hour of waking. If you begin rushing through your day without fuel, your body will sense starvation, slow your metabolism, and look to take glucose from your brain and muscle cells. If you don’t have time for breakfast during the first hour of your day, grab a quick snack, and eat breakfast a few hours later. Even a glass of juice is better than nothing.
5. Have a mixture of complex carbohydrates, lean protein and a small amount of healthy fat at every meal and snack. This healthy mix of nutrients will even out the process of digestion, and keep you satisfied until your next meal or snack.
6. Minimize simple sugars to avoid spikes in your blood glucose that are followed by an energy crash. If you must have a sugary snack, eat a small amount of protein with it.
7. Drink water and no-sugar beverages all day. Energy slumps are often the result of dehydration. Your urine should be light or pale yellow. Anything darker means your not getting enough fluids.
8. Eat within 15-30 minutes after a workout. To assure that your exercise leaves you feeling refreshed, rather than exhausted, keep a snack in your gym bag. Refuel your muscles, preferably with a complex carbohydrate, shortly after you’re routine is done, and you’ll be rearing to go.
Pick one or two of the above tips that seem doable for you. Work at it for a week or two until it feels like a habit. Then pick one of two more to add. Continue until you have incorporated all of the tips into your daily routine. Now you are eating for health and energy. You may even find you have enough energy to start focusing on some of those other lifestyle changes as well. Yoga anyone?
Identity Magazine is all about empowering women to get all A’s in the game of life – Accept. Appreciate. Achieve.™ Every contributor and expert answer the Identity 5 questions in keeping with our theme. Their answers can be random and in the moment or they can be aligned with the above article. As a team, we hope to inspire and motivate ourselves and inspire you to get all A’s.
1. What have you accepted within your life, physically and/or mentally? What are you still working on accepting?
I’ve accepted the fact that it takes me a long time to awaken and be ready for my day. Despite getting 8 hours of sleep each night, I move very slowly in the mornings. What this means is I need to get up a lot earlier than others. When my kids were little, I always enjoyed a good 45-60 minutes of quiet time before getting them up to get ready for the day. Now, I leave myself approximately an hour and a half before my first client appointment of the day. I relish the quiet, sitting with my coffee, breakfast and reading. It’s one of my favorite times of my day, and I just don’t feel the same without it.
2. What have you learn to appreciate about yourself and/or within your life, physically and mentally? What are you still working on to appreciate?
I appreciate my healthy relationship with food. Although I love home made cookies and ice cream just as much as anyone else, I recognize food is the fuel that keeps my body running. I enjoy nourishing myself with nutrient rich meals and snacks, eat when I am hungry and stop when I am full. Food is not a cure for my stress or problems, or a means to feel better when feeling crappy. I’ll take a walk around the block for that. And because I eat this way most of the time, occasional treats are savored guilt free!
3. What is one of your most rewarding achievements in life? What makes YOU most proud? What goals and dreams do you still have?
Despite a crazy, busy schedule, and having always been a working Mom, I am truly proud of raising my family on home cooked meals most nights of the week. In a world where fast food, eat out, and take in are the norm, during the week dinners were (and still are) prepared in my kitchen. It is incredibly rewarding when my girls, neither of who are taking care of families of their own yet, tell me about the meal they prepared for themselves. Sometimes they even give me a new recipe!
4. We all have imperfections, so we think. The truth—we are all perfectly imperfect. What are your not-so-perfect ways? What imperfections and quirks create who you are—your Identity?
You wouldn’t want to see my kitchen when I finish preparing dinner! What a mess. I try to clean up as I go along, but somehow it still looks like a bomb went off by the time our meal is ready. Good thing one of my quirks is I actually find cleaning the kitchen after dinner calming. Go figure!
5. “I Love My…” is an outlet for you to express and appreciate all the positive traits that make you…well… YOU! Sharing what you love about yourself will make you smile, feel empowered, and uplift your spirit and soul. (we assure you!) Identity challenges you to complete the phrase “I Love My…?”
I love my daily energy!