If you can’t get out of bed in the am, fall asleep at your desk in the afternoon, have trouble keeping up with your kids or find yourself dragging through the day, the following SIX strategies can help increase your energy level!
Get enough sleep:
You’ll obviously feel tired and sluggish without enough sleep. But research also shows that sleep deprivation can be detrimental to your health and weight. Aim for 8 hours a night.
Avoid late night high-fat meals
Eating high fat, high salt, high calorie meals before bed – can zap your early am energy and make it hard to get out of bed in the morning. Sort of like a food hangover.
Numerous studies have shown that eating a healthy breakfast can help people feel better both mentally and physically during the morning hours.
Try moderate caffeine
Caffeine is currently the most widely used stimulant in the world and scientific studies confirm that caffeinated beverages like coffee can help keep you temporarily alert and focused. So feel free to enjoy a few cups of joe, but certainly know your personal tolerance level and don’t solely rely on caffeine as your means to stay energized. What’s more, be sure to “decaffeinate” by late afternoon so the caffeine doesn’t keep you awake at night (see #1!). Caffeine typically peaks within the first hour and can linger in your system between 3 and 8 hours, so adjust accordingly.
8-ounce cup of coffee = approximately 100 milligrams caffeine
One cup black tea = approximately 40 milligrams caffeine
One cup green tea = approximately 20 milligrams caffeine
Keep your body hydrated:
Water is needed to maintain a healthy body, a clear mind, and a good balance within your tissues. About 60% of your body is water and to function efficiently, you must stay hydrated. How much is enough? The Institute of Medicine recommends about nine 8-ounce cups of fluid per day for women and thirteen 8-ounce cups of fluid per day for men. Even more if you live in a super hot climate or are very physically active. Sounds like a lot, but rest assured, it adds up quickly… and although water is your best bet, ALL fluids count (including coffee, tea and milk in your cereal). Even juicy fruits and vegetables!
Prevent dips in blood sugar:
- Eat every 4 to 5 hours: Eating consistently throughout the day provides your brain and body with a constant source of fuel. This 4-5 hour eating strategy can dramatically prevent dips in your blood sugar levels. Some people with diagnosed hypoglycemia may need to eat even more frequently (every 2-3 hours).
- Limit refined carbohydrates to help lessen volatile blood sugar swings: Concentrated sources of sugar like soda, candy, fruit juice, jam, and syrup can create radical spikes in your blood sugar – which often leaves you feeling tired a couple of hours later. And although refined, white starch like white bread, crackers, bagels, and rice do not naturally contain sugar compounds, they are metabolized into sugar very quickly and can often create the same affect. Instead incorporate high quality carbs like vegetables, fruit, beans, peas, lentils, brown and wild rice, and oatmeal.
- Incorporate soluble fiber: Foods rich in soluble fiber have the ability to slow down the absorption of sugar in your blood and therefore, help to level blood sugars and energy. Incorporate oats, brown rice, barley, apples, pears, strawberries, oranges, sweet potatoes, carrots, peas, and beans into your diet.
- Incorporate protein with meals and snacks (whenever possible): The addition of protein to a meal will help slow the absorption of carbohydrate in the blood. This can help you feel energized and productive for hours after eating.
Joy’s ready made “ENERGY MENU”:
Bowl of whole grain cereal (for a cereal with extra protein try: Kashi Go Lean and Special K Protein Plus) with skim milk topped with sliced strawberries
Coffee with skim milk
Apple and container of non-fat, flavored yogurt
2 glasses of water
Large vegetable salad with grilled chicken with vinaigrette dressing
Whole grain roll
2 glasses of water
Gnu Bar (or 2-pack Nature Valley granola bars)
Grilled pork tenderloin or fish
Baked sweet potato
Sautéed spinach in olive oil
2 glasses of water
Ounce of dark chocolate
For more information on healthy eating, visit TODAY nutrition expert, Joy Bauer’s website (and check out her new bookJoy Bauer’s Food Cures) at www.joybauernutrition.com