Time for another cup of coffee? Think again.
Whether you're on the go, in the middle of a long work day, or just have a busy schedule, it's pretty common to reach a slump where you feel exhaustion sweeping your entire body. We've all likely heard the saying "food is fuel," but what if we took the saying more seriously? Eating in a way that honors your energy needs can in fact boost your alertness. We broke down six key ways to help keep you sharp and satisfied.
1. Eat in your "Satiation Zone"
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Eating when you feel hungry and stopping when you feel full seems like a simple concept, but it is too often overlooked. That "hey, I'm starting to feel a little hungry" feeling in your stomach is your body indicating it is running low on energy and will need more soon. Time to eat now. Waiting until you're starving will throw off your energy levels—your body's metabolism will slow down because it is trying to conserve the little energy that is left. On the other hand, eating too much past fullness will not only cause physical discomfort, but your body will put more energy towards digesting the food. This is energy you've could've used for focusing on well, anything else. Your best bet is to find a middle ground of satiation.
2. Breakfast Breakdown
Quite frankly, the most important meal of the day has that reputation for a reason. Your body is actually hard at work while you sleep, and needs to be refueled properly to jumpstart your metabolism for a new day. This means starting with a balance of healthy carbs, protein, and fats to give you adequate energy to rock your day. These three macronutrients work together to provide your body with fuel, keep you satiated, and aid in your body's normal functioning. Scramble those eggs, cook that oatmeal, stir in that peanut butter, and dig in.
3. Drink, Drink, Drink
Water, of course. Drink a tall glass or big bottle first thing in the morning, as soon as you wake up. Keep it on your nightstand and don't forget it! A large percentage of your body is made out of water, and you need to keep that in check. Your body is naturally going to be dehydrated after sleeping for hours, so kickstarting your day with water will help restore essential bodily functions. Thirst, quenched.
4. Don't Slack on the Snacks
We'll break down the science-y stuff for you: Think of blood glucose levels as energy in your body that comes from your food. As your body takes in the food and digests it, these levels change. Considering you eat meals spaced throughout the day, the levels are bound to do some bouncing—higher when you eat food, lower once it's all fully digested, processed, and used. Eating snacks in between meals allows your body to gradually take from that energy supply to keep the levels steady and prevent them from dropping to low. Low levels = low energy.
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Back to that glucose we just talked about. It doesn't magically turn into energy for your body. Magnesium is one of the big components that aids in the food to energy-making process, so if you're lacking, it may be a contributing factor of fatigue. Before you reach for those supplements, try eating some magnesium rich foods—spinach, almonds, cashews, sunflower seeds, avocado, bananas, and fish.
6. Wholesome Foods vs. That Junky Stuff
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If we told you that grilled chicken with brown rice and veggies is better for you than a bag of chips and soda, it wouldn't be a surprise. Healthy is healthy for a reason. Energy-wise, these wholesome options provide your body with much longer lasting fuel than their quick fix counterparts. Whole grains and plant-based foods filled with fiber take a longer time to digest in your body. That's a good thing! These hardy foods require more effort for your body to breakdown, which results in a long and slow energy release. Meaning, your fuel will be evenly distributed to you body throughout the course of a few hours as it is processed. On the other hand, the "energy" from artificial food and snacks that lack fiber digest much more quickly, leaving you hungry and lacking nutrients needed for energy.
If you want to live by the everyday active lifestyle, or even just to feel good to power through your day, it's important to fuel yourself in ways that provide your body with the most energy possible. Use these guidelines, and you'll have the stamina to make the most of each and every day.