Top Three Tips for Energy
By Mascha Davis, MPH, RDN
The foods we eat can have a big impact on our energy levels because they’re not all metabolized and used the same way in our bodies. Here are a few tweaks you can make to your diet that may help and are easy to incorporate into your routine.
1. Don’t be afraid of carbohydrates. Just choose them wisely!
There are two types of carbohydrates: simple and complex. Simple carbs are found in candy, sugar, and refined grains like white flour. These carbs will give you a quick energy boost. But this energy will only last for a short time. Complex carbs are a more lasting source of energy! Sources of complex carbs contain fiber and include whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Complex carbs are digested more slowly than simple carbs, providing us with a steadier, more lasting source of energy or glucose.
Complex carbs are easy to incorporate into your diet. At breakfast, go for oats with fruit, try to choose whole grain products, and eat plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits. Since complex carbohydrates contain fiber and other nutrients, start off your day by more of these nutrients incorporating complex carbs into your diet. For example, a bowl of cooked Quaker® Old Fashioned Oats not only contains fiber and carbohydrates, it also provides vitamins and minerals like thiamin, phosphorus, and magnesium.
2. Be a savvy snacker
Snacks or small meals may help to sustain energy levels (1). Be mindful of your hunger cues and try to eat every 3-4 hours while staying within your caloric needs for the day. The best kinds of snacks are wholesome: rich in complex carbohydrates, protein, fiber, and healthy unsaturated fats.
Sometimes it’s hard to plan ahead, but there are plenty of fantastic options. Fruit is an excellent snack because it is low in calories but high in the nutrients your body needs (2). A smoothie made with whole fruits and veggies is one example of a quick snack you can incorporate into your routine. It contains fiber, which helps support digestive health. In addition, the fruits and vegetables provide vitamins and minerals that may be lacking in the typical diet.
Something else that I recommend incorporating into your snacks is protein. Some easy ideas include eggs, lentils (did you know these make a great addition to smoothies?), as well as plant-based sources such as hemp seeds and pumpkin seeds. You can add these seeds into your oatmeal or blend them into your smoothie for a delicious and healthy addition.
3. Stay hydrated
Sometimes when you are feeling tired and have trouble focusing, you might simply need more fluids! Even mild dehydration may lead to feelings of fatigue (3). Our bodies need water for many key functions and staying hydrated is one important aspect of feeling energized! Aim for at least 8-10 glasses of water per day. If you aren’t sure how much water you need, speak to a registered dietitian nutritionist, who can help to calculate your personalized needs.
There are many ways to monitor your fluid intake, like apps or carrying a water bottle with you. If you aren’t a fan of plain water, you can add lemon juice or fruit to your glass to give it some natural flavor. Herbal tea is another great alternative, especially during the colder months. Aim to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables as they also contain high water levels (4)..
There are some delicious beverages available on the market now that you can choose in addition to water. One of my favorites is Kevita Master Brew Kombucha®! It’s hydrating, has 30 - 35 calories per 8 oz. serving, and also contains probiotics. Probiotics are a wonderful addition to our diet - they are beneficial bacteria that help supplement the natural gut flora in your digestive system (5).
These are three easy ways to make your diet more efficient and energized. Try incorporating complex carbohydrates, snacks with some carbs and protein, and stay hydrated. This is an excellent start to help get you through your busy day.