Have you ever heard the saying, “you are what you eat”? Well, that rings true more than you might think.
Most people know that your diet can affect things like your weight and how much muscle you have. Your nutrition can even impact your mood and how you sleep. But, did you know that the food and drinks you put into your body can actually have an impact on your energy levels, too?
It’s about more than just what you eat, but what you should avoid eating, when you should be eating, and general diet tips you should keep in mind each day.
With that, let’s take a look at seven tips you can use in your everyday diet to give yourself an energy boost. By making a few small changes, you may be able to avoid the mid-afternoon crash, and wake up each day feeling refreshed, rather than sluggish.
Eat Smaller Meals More Frequently
Eating several smaller meals throughout the day is one of the most common practices people use when they’re trying to lose weight. There are some suggestions that this practice can boost your metabolism. While it might have a marginal effect, that’s not really the key to its success with weight loss.
The biggest benefit of eating several small meals throughout the day is that you’re less likely to feel hungry, so you won’t overeat.
But, eating frequently can also help you to have energy throughout the day. Each time you eat something (especially the right foods), your stomach works to digest that food and releases it into your body as glucose, which is what gives you the feeling of having more energy.
So, if you eat smaller, healthy meals several times a day rather than two or three larger ones, you can keep your energy levels consistent without having to worry about “crashing” at some point.
Choose Your Beverages Wisely
Did you know that one of the signs of dehydration is fatigue? If you’re feeling so drained of energy that you can hardly keep your eyes open, reach for a glass of water and see how you feel after drinking it. Staying hydrated throughout the day is a great way to keep your energy levels up.
Plus, drinking enough water has so many additional health benefits. It can keep you focused and even help sharpen your mind. So, if your energy slump tends to come in the middle of the workday, drinking water can help you to hone in on whatever you’re working on.
On the other hand, there are some drinks you should avoid if you’re trying to increase your energy. That includes alcohol.
Alcohol is a depressant, meaning it can make you feel tired and sluggish. While a glass of wine or a beer each night likely won’t make much of a difference, try to limit your overall intake as much as possible. If you do have a drink, try to choose a time when you aren’t going to need a lot of energy, such as having a glass of wine with dinner.
Caffeine is Okay
There are over 150 million daily coffee drinkers in the U.S. alone. There are millions more who consume energy drinks, sodas, and other forms of caffeine throughout the day to get a ‘jolt’ of energy.
While there are many myths and stereotypes about caffeine, the truth is that it isn’t bad for you – in moderation.
Don’t be afraid to have that morning cup of coffee to perk up, or reach for another cup of coffee or tea in the afternoon as a pick-me-up. Caffeine does help you to stay more alert. Just make sure you’re limiting your intake and trying to get it from “natural” sources, rather than sodas or energy drinks combined with dozens of other ingredients.
Choose Balanced Meals
Remember that “you are what you eat” saying? If you really want to use your diet to your advantage, make sure you’re balancing out your meals with adequate nutrition.
Every plate you make for yourself should contain ingredients from multiple food groups. Your food should be centered on whole grains, lean proteins, and plenty of fruits and vegetables.
You might be surprised to find out that simply changing your diet and enjoying healthier foods can give you an energy boost.
If you truly can’t make any dietary changes or you need something to supplement your efforts, consider gummy vitamins, supplements, and herbs as alternatives. Getting your nutrition from the food you eat is always preferred. But, supplements can help to make up the difference and give you the adequate tradition you need.
Avoid Certain Foods
In addition to choosing nutritious foods, there are some ingredients that can actually zap your energy, leaving you feeling lethargic and sluggish throughout the day. Some of the most common energy-drainers include:
- White bread
- Refined sugar
- Fried food
- Fast food
- Food advertised as “low-calorie”
Avoid these foods as much as possible, especially if you’re having trouble with your energy levels. The best thing you can do is to choose whole, real foods without preservatives and with as few chemicals as possible. If you’re not sure exactly what you should avoid, don’t be afraid to read labels when you’re in the grocery store.
A good rule of thumb is to avoid something if you have no idea what most of the ingredients are.
Most likely, they’re preservatives used to keep a product shelf-stable. Unfortunately, some of those ingredients can also make you tired. Opt to cook for yourself as much as possible, and become a frequent ingredient-reader when you have to buy convenience or pre-packaged foods.
Snacks Are Your Friend
We already talked about eating smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day.
But, if you’re more of a grazer, that’s okay too! Choosing healthy snacks to munch on throughout the day will keep your energy levels up and will keep you from crashing if your blood sugar levels get too low.
You’ll want to choose a snack with complex carbohydrates and/or lean protein, like peanuts, popcorn, or beef jerky. Items like these will give you a little more pep, but won’t leave you feeling tired a few minutes after you’re done eating them.
Eating snacks throughout the day can also help to prevent you from overeating later.
Not only is eating too much bad for the waistline, but it’s bad for your energy levels. Think about how you feel after a Thanksgiving meal or a large dinner. Chances are, the only thing you want to do is lay on the couch. So, smaller, nutrient-dense meals can help you avoid that “couch potato feeling and get moving.”
Feed Your Body With Sleep
Though sleep isn’t exactly a diet choice, we couldn’t go without including it in this article. Getting enough sound sleep is crucial to have sustained energy throughout the day. Unfortunately, far too many people don’t get enough sleep each night.
That can be linked to your diet.
For example, drinking caffeine in the afternoon could contribute to insomnia. Fried or greasy foods could cause you to toss and turn all night. On the other hand, if you’ve been trying to limit your caloric intake, you could have trouble sleeping because you’re hungry.
Finding the right balance is incredibly important so you can get all the sleep you need.
Try to aim for 7-8 hours each night. When you wake up, you’ll feel more energized and you can start your day with a healthy, nutritious breakfast to help boost your energy even more.
The Importance of Taking Care of Your Energy
Energy levels change as you get older. There is really no getting around it. Remember that it’s normal for your energy to ebb and flow throughout the day. Sometimes you’ll feel more energetic than others, and that doesn’t mean you need to go out and transform your diet right away.
But, pay attention to the way you feel every day.
Do you often struggle to keep your eyes open at work? Are you constantly fatigued? If so, you might need something more to help you with your energy levels. If you truly feel drained, don’t be afraid to ask your doctor for some help.
But, if you’re just struggling with a bit of energy loss here and there, keep these tips in mind. Eat something healthy, socialize with others, and involve yourself in activities as much as possible.
If you’re struggling with your energy levels, you’re not alone. People all over the world tend to have poor sleeping habits, poor eating habits, and not enough self-care. Self-care is more than just a buzzword, it’s a way of truly caring for your life and your own wellbeing. By taking care of yourself and keeping these tips in mind, you can have more energy throughout the day without having to worry about crashing at any point.
Remember, “you are what you eat”. By keeping that in mind, you can make smarter choices in your diet, and see the benefits almost right away.