Eating for energy is all about choosing the right foods at the right time. Here are some tips on how to eat for energy and boost your energy levels from nutritionist Linda Prout, M.S., who offers personalized nutrition programs via email and phone, or from her office in Eugene, Oregon. She is author of "Live In the Balance" and writes an excellent blog on nutrition.
Here are the basic steps you should take to eat for energy and reduce fatigue.
1) Eliminate Or Reduce Sugar and White Flour. You might think you are eating healthy diet, but muffins, cookies, fruit juices, white bread and white pasta contain refined sugars and simple carbohydrates that wreak havoc on blood sugar. That leads to low energy. Replace them with protein and complex carbs like veggies. If you need help getting white flour, white sugar and other processed foods out of your diet, check out programs like The Conscious Cleanse or Dr. Mark Hyman's Ten Day Detox Diet. They are both good and affordable.
2) Eat Protein For Breakfast & Lunch. Meat, eggs, fish, poultry, nuts and seeds give you the energy you need to get things done during the day. Put walnuts and butter on your oatmeal, not maple syrup and raisins. For afternoon energy, eat a low-carbohydrate, high-protein lunch like stir fried chicken with broccoli or a chicken breast with cooked green beans. Avoid pasta-only meals.
3) Look For Humanely-Raised, Grass-fed Meats and Free-Range Poultry and Eggs. These protein sources are richer in several vitamins and omega-3 fats, which are important to energy and health. Factory produced animal often harbor diseases from overcrowded and unsanitary living conditions, as well as unhealthy hormone and chemical residues.
4) Eat (Or Drink) Your Greens. Cooked spinach, broccoli, kale, collard greens, mustard greens, chard, bok choy, beet greens, Chinese broccoli are all energy boosters, with chlorophyll, magnesium and B vitamins. Vary them! You can also drink your greens in smoothies. (My personal favorite is a combination of romaine lettuce, kale, ginger, avocado, tofu, lime juice and cilantro, if I can get it.)
5) Drink Enough Water. The amount you need varies by person. One size-fits-all recommendation for water consumption doesn't make sense when you consider that adults vary greatly in weight and activity levels. Does a 5' 2" woman who weighs 110 pounds need the same amount of water as a linebacker for the Denver Broncos? Even the amount of water one person needs can change depending on where you live, the time of year and what you're doing.
Signs you need to drink more include thirst, dark/deep yellow urine, fatigue, mental fogginess, dry skin and constipation. Avoid cold water, which slows digestion. Avoid sweet and artificially sweetened drinks. Make sure your water is free of added fluoride, which can suppress thyroid (and thus energy and metabolism) and free of pollutants.
6) Exercise And Breathe. Regular aerobic exercise improves mental and physical well-being and works better than drugs at alleviating depression. A daily walk, jog, bike ride, swim, or dance keeps us physically energized and mentally alert.
7) Plan Something Exciting. Looking forward to a getaway, starting a new project or learning something new stimulates your mind and gives your body a reason to give you energy. Discover the activities, work and people that help you feel joyful.