September 30, 2020

3 Ways to Change your Eating to Increase your Energy

Posted by Jessica Penner

Improving your night’s sleep is the best way to keep your energy levels up during the day. But, even for those with impeccable sleep hygiene, there are still days when you end up with a rough night’s sleep!

Wouldn’t it be great if there was a magical substance you could consume that could boost your alertness?

There is. It’s called….. coffee!

Caffeine, guarana, theobromine, and other stimulants act on the brain to keep your mind awake. But they don’t technically give you energy to go about your daily activities. For that, you need food!

So let’s take a look at how you can plan your food intake to maximize energy levels throughout the day!

Shift Your Eating

The typical North American schedule includes a small breakfast, small lunch, large dinner, and snacking in front of the TV in the evening. But your body actually needs that energy from food earlier in the day, when you’re actually doing things, not after supper when you’re likely in chill mode!

Of course, each body is unique and you need to do what works well for you. But in my dietetic practice I find that most people do benefit from shifting their food intake to earlier in the day.

Switch to a larger breakfast, medium-sized lunch, smaller supper, and snack in the evening if you get hungry. If your pattern of eating is drastically different from this, make small adjustments over time to get your body gradually transitioned to the new schedule.

Focus on Filling Foods

Marathon runners keep packs of sugar gels on them to give them fast-acting energy throughout their race. Sugar and other simple carbs are quickly absorbed in the bloodstream, and become available for the body’s immediate use.

You might feel like your busy life is like constantly running a marathon, but unless you’re actually, literally running a marathon, your body would do better with slow-acting energy.

So instead of filling your plate with simple carbs such as cereal, bagels, and pasta, make sure to round meals out by including protein, fat, and fibre. These nutrients take longer to digest, resulting in long-lasting sustained energy delivered to the bloodstream!

Try some of these swaps!

Instead of                                  Switch to
Boxed breakfast cerealsOatmeal with nut butter and fresh fruit
Toast and jamScrambled eggs with a side of avocado or tomato toast
Sandwiches for lunchA wrap loaded with veggies, hummus and roasted chicken
So many types of sandwichesMake a pot of vegetable soup and start each lunch with a cup
Coffee and donuts to get through the afternoon slumpGreek Yogurt and berries
Huge supper with all the fixin’sEat a smaller portion and pack leftovers for the next day

Stay Hydrated

Every organ system needs water to function optimally. Dehydration can cause you to feel sluggish and tired. Most men need about 12 cups of fluids (water, coffee, tea, milk) while most women need around 9 cups each day.

If you find sipping on plain water unmotivating, try these tips to make water more exciting!

  • Switch to sparkling! The bubbles are fun.
  • Flavour water with cut up fruit, cucumbers, or fresh mint (use a straw so that the fruit isn’t in contact with your teeth)
  • Draw lines on a water bottle and mark them with the hours of the day. Aim to drink to each line as the time draws near.
  • Make it a game! See how many days in a row you can hit your goal.
  • Reward yourself. Print off a calendar and give yourself a checkmark each day you meet your fluid requirements. Challenge yourself with a number of days/month. Once you reach your goal, reward yourself with a splurge purchase!

Next time you’re feeling like you’re low on energy, remember that it doesn’t have to be that way. Some small changes to your eating routine can give you the energy you need to live your life to the fullest!

What habit do you think you’ll work on first?

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