How to Eat for All-Day Energy
Naked Infusions | November 28, 2019>
One of our tenets at Naked Infusions is that you should “eat to live.” This means continuing to choose foods that you love, but that also make you feel great, keep you healthy, and support your ability to live life the way you want to.
Having steady, consistent energy levels throughout the day is a big part of this. And for a lot of people it’s a constant struggle to maintain high energy and avoid the dreaded mid-day crash. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be this way. Make a few key choices with your diet, and you might just find yourself amazed at how good you feel throughout the day. Here are a few principles to help you get started.
1. Eat More Plants
A plant based diet is one of the easiest ways to boost your energy. Along with the variety of energy-rich compounds and vital nutrients they contain, plants are also much easier on your digestive system than animal products. Swap out that lunchtime sandwich for a salad, and you’ll experience the difference firsthand.
2. Eat for Variety
Most dietitians, doctors, and nutrition experts will tell you that you’re best off meeting the bulk of your nutritional needs (including vitamins and minerals) through whole foods instead of supplements. One of the best ways to ensure this happens is to eat a variety of foods every day.
Here’s a trick you can use: eat a wide range of colors. It’s almost like nature’s own cheat sheet to help you meet your base nutritional requirements.
This works because color is a good indicator of which nutrients are plentiful in different fruits and vegetables. A few examples are the anthocyanins that give blueberries and cherries their deep blue and purple hues, the energy-packed chlorophyll inside green vegetables, and the beta carotene that makes carrots and sweet potatoes orange. All of these are powerful phytochemicals that support health and boost energy levels.
3. Avoid Artificial Additives and Refined Sugar
Refined sugar is one of the biggest culprits when it comes to mid-day energy crashes. And unfortunately, most people respond to that crash with more sugar, another cup of coffee, or both. All this does is lock them into a never-ending up and down energy surge/crash cycle.
Depending on who you ask, processed food additives like artificial sweeteners are either perfectly safe for consumption or the root of all disease. The truth probably lies somewhere in between, though we may never know the full extent of their effects on us.
But one major concern with artificially sweetened foods is that they tend to change people’s food preferences over time. In other words, the more often you eat artificially flavored foods, the more you start to prefer them over whole foods. When these “nutritionally empty” foods begin displacing whole foods from your diet, your energy levels are bound to suffer.
4. Drink Enough Water
This may be the most overlooked aspect of health and energy maintenance. The fact is that every single cell in your body needs water to function, and being chronically (or even periodically) dehydrated will take its toll.
Your brain is perhaps your most vulnerable organ when it comes to dehydration. Even a mild level of dehydration can have significant negative effects on both energy and mood, as well as cognitive performance. So if you find yourself dragging, instead of automatically reaching for another cup of coffee, try a glass of water (or two). You’ll be surprised at the difference it makes.
5. Eat Less, More Often
Everyone has experienced the major energy crash (or “food coma”) that comes in the wake of a big, heavy meal. The energy requirement of digestion combined with the sudden fluctuations in blood sugar and insulin can be enough to put you down for the count. Smaller, more frequent meals can provide you with a steadier supply of energy and stave off the crash.
If you find it hard to fit five meals into your day, you’re not alone. Planning ahead is the key. Keep healthy snacks on hand so that you don’t have to go searching for food (and probably making less-than-optimal choices) when you’re hungry. Make this a habit and you’ll find it much easier to eat in a way that keeps you feeling energized through every hour of the day.