Because of our crazy-busy lives as Americans, most of us are probably feeling pretty worn out and lacking energy. If you have been relying on caffeine to get you through the day but still feel bogged down, we’ve got some tips for eating to boost energy.
Tip #1: Eat Small Frequent Meals
Eating every 3-4 hours can help fuel a healthy metabolism and prevent between-meal hunger which could lead to unhealthy eating and snacking. For most, there isn’t enough time to think about a meal during the day let alone snacks, but as one starts to get a grip on eating more frequently, remind yourself that you will start to feel better and be more focused when there is fuel for the fire.
Tip #2: Avoid the Caffeine Trap
Although grabbing coffee, sugary soda, and/or energy drinks may provide temporary energy, they may leave one crashing after the buzz wears off. Aim for at least 8-8 ounce glasses of water per day or substitute fat-free or low-fat milk, zero-calorie flavored water, or unsweetened tea to provide some flavor.
Tip #3: Breakfast really is the Most Important Meal
When your mother said breakfast is the most important meal of the day, she was right! Eating breakfast in the morning starts your metabolism and provides fuel for the morning. The key is to have a balanced breakfast with some type of carbohydrate, protein, and fat. An example would be a breakfast sandwich made of a whole-wheat English muffin, part-skim cheese, egg or low-sodium breakfast meat, and spinach with a piece of fruit and a glass of milk.
Tip #4: Are you getting enough Iron?
Certain nutrients such as iron may help provide energy. Being iron-deficient can cause fatigue, impair endurance, and decrease immunity. Red meat is typically the most common known source of iron however eat this sparingly-two times per week due to its high fat content which could lead to issues with heart disease. Other lesser known iron-rich foods include: egg yolks, dark-leafy green (spinach, kale), beans, artichokes, and iron-fortified cereal. To get the most bang for your buck when it comes to iron, make sure you are eating it with a food rich in vitamin C, such as citrus fruits, broccoli, or kiwi for example, which helps increase its absorption.
Tip#5: Eat More Real Food
Real food refers to eating a whole peach instead of canned peaches or eating whole-wheat bread vs. white, refined bread. Because processed foods can be loaded with sugar, fat, and/or calories, they may make one feel temporarily satisfied but can also lead to a crash just as with caffeine. Real foods have more fiber which helps one stay fuller longer and are loaded in natural vitamins and minerals.
Eating the right combination of food throughout the day can give one a much needed energy boost without relying on expensive energy drinks or caffeine which can lead to a crash later. Below is a trail mix recipe from Cooking Light magazine loaded with fiber, healthy fats, and antioxidants to give you just the right kick for the day whether for a snack or a breakfast on the go.
Nuts and Bolts Trail Mix
• ½ cup unsalted mixed nuts
• 2 ½ cups multigrain toasted oat cereal
• ½ cup dried cherries
• ½ cup M & M’s
• 1 cup mini pretzel twists
• 1 cup whole-grain cheddar Goldfish crackers
Nutrition Information (per ½ cup serving): Calories 146, Fat 5.5 g, Saturated Fat 1.6 g, Protein 2.7 g, Carbohydrate 21.3 g, Fiber 2.4 g, Sodium 127 mg