Fuel for the life you want.
There’s no worse feeling than staring at your to-do list or jumping into a full day of fun activities and feeling like you have zero fuel in the tank. You brew an extra cup of coffee or sleep in for an extra 30 minutes in an attempt to reboot your body, but there’s something that works a lot better than these short-term fixes: balanced nutrition.
When you lead a super busy life, it’s even more imperative that you fuel your body well with energy-boosting foods at the right times of the day and avoid the little habits that compromise that balance. Here’s how to eat for energy and feel like the best version of yourself all day long.
Nix the added sugar.
Sugar constantly sneaks its way into seemingly healthy diets, so unless you’re really vigilant in reading those food labels and focusing on your nutritional intake, sugar crashes could be the reason you feel like you’re running on empty.
Added sugar hides in everything from fruit-flavored yogurt to condiments like ketchup and mustard. So to start getting your sugar intake in check, buy the plain varieties of foods like oatmeal and nut butter, and add your own layers of flavor with healthy, natural ingredients like fresh fruit and cinnamon.
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.
One of the primary symptoms of dehydration is fatigue, and unless you make a point to down enough ounces of water in a day, your energy balance will be consistently off kilter.
So snag that reusable water bottle and consciously keep track of how much water you drink throughout the day. If you’re making sure that you’re hitting your magic number before going to sleep at night, your energy levels will dramatically improve (as will your overall health and well-being).
Eat more frequently.
If you’re sticking with three square meals a day and feeling major energy lags before you get to eat again, it’s time to restructure things a bit. Smart snacking can be your best friend when it comes to sustained energy.
Try reducing the size of your big meals a bit to make room for two snacks — one mid-morning and one mid-afternoon — so you can keep your blood sugar levels balanced all day long. Just make sure that the snacks you choose have a proper balance of complex carbs, lean protein and healthy fat so you can continue to avoid unwanted energy spikes and crashes.
Pick real foods.
If you’re really eating for energy, it’s vital that you lean into real, whole foods rather than the pre-packaged, processed options that fill supermarket shelves.
Consuming fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats and healthy fats in their freshest forms ensures that you’re getting the best nutritional bang for your buck, which also leads to balanced energy levels. And avoiding the other stuff means you end up limiting your intake of energy-zapping ingredients like added sugar, preservatives and other chemicals that really don’t belong on your dinner table anyway.
Fat is your friend.
Our culture has a muddy history of limiting fat intake due to its higher caloric value, but science says that healthy, monounsaturated fat sources are not only imperative to proper nutrition, but also provide a lot more energy benefits than the carbohydrates that often replace them.
So if you’re looking for serious energy foods, don’t fear the fats — embrace them. A handful of raw nuts or a piece of fatty fish will provide your body with a solid boost of omega-3 fatty acids, as well as leave you feeling satiated without having to overeat. And since they take longer to digest, your blood sugar won’t skyrocket and then plummet as easily. Win-win.