Wouldn't it be great to have incredible energy all day long? I know there are a lot of commercial products our there that claim to help increase energy and vitality, but the best way to improve your productivity and alertness is through your diet. We often make the mistake of over-caffeinating and eating the wrong foods (or too few of the right foods) in an effort to kickstart our body - both of which can backfire. Here are five simple tips that can help you bright-eyed all day long.
1) Eat breakfast, but go easy on the sugar
Breakfast - or lack there of - can come back and haunt you at 3pm. What we eat at the front end of the day has a trickle down effect on our energy all throughout the day, even our cravings around dinner time. Eating a healthy breakfast that's lower in sugar is important! Unfortunately, a lot of breakfast foods labeled as "healthy" are actually quite high in the sweet stuff, so you have to be discriminating. For example, a Strawberry Blueberry Yogurt Parfait from Starbucks may sound healthy and good-for-you, but it contains 31 grams of sugar. That's just shy of 8 teaspoons! Read your labels, or if you're going to a major chain for breakfast, ask to see the nutrition info before you order. Ideally, shoot for 13 grams of sugar or less in your breakfast.
Too much sugar can make you feel tired and hungry soon after you eat. No one wants that.
2) Say no to a second cup of Joe
You get to work. You're tired, so you go for a cup of coffee. That doesn't help as much as you'd hoped, so you go for cup #2, then #3. Hold on! Before you assume coffee will fix your fatigue. remember that one cup of Joe can boost your cortisol by 30%. That doesn't sound menacing, but remember that cortisol plays a huge role in fat storage. Coffee affects our energy on a hormonal level. We throw off our cortisol, which throws off our insulin, which ultimately triggers fatigue and hunger.
If you're addicted to coffee, do a 2-day coffee test to see how it might affect your productivity (and appetite). Cut out coffee tomorrow (substitute a cup of green tea if you're uber addicted or you'll have one helluva headache by noon). Drink water continuously. On day 2, do the same thing, but ease off the green tea by a bit. If you don't like the taste of green tea on its own, add a little stevia for sweetness.
You might be surprised by how good you feel by the END of the day and how much ENERGY you've maintained throughout the day.
3) Drink water like it's your job
Water, hydration, metabolism and energy all go hand in hand. Not one single cell can do without H2O, including those neurons in your brain. If you need to think, stay alert, or get creative in the next big strategy meeting, you need water! Drink about half your weight in ounces, and if you exercise, drink a little more. What's more, even mild dehydration can slow metabolism by 3%. Keep your body running fully functional by drinking water - straight up.
4) Take your multivitamins and supplements with food
Taking a good multivitamin every day is good - and can even help with energy, but it won't be worth anything if you take it on an empty stomach. Vitamins have no caloric value, so they need things called "c0-factors" coming from food to work. Bottom line, take your multivitamin with food - and preferably something with a healthy fat to help with absorption.
5) Before you eat lunch, eat a healthy snack
A lot of people I work with eat breakfast around 7 or 8am, but don't eat again until lunchtime, usually between noon and 1pm. The five hour window between meals is a little too long for your body's liking. Aim for a snack around 3 hours post-breakfast and your body will not only get the flow of steady energy it needs, but it will also crave less sugar...and less food in general throughout the day. Overeating at lunchtime is the #1 way to fall into a food coma by late afternoon. Eat healthy, but don't eat too much, and you'll feel great.
Give these tips a try and let me know how you feel.
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Traci is a nationally recognized health and fitness expert who has been featured on The TODAY Show, Dr. Oz, in SHAPE, the Huffington Post and HuffPost Live. Traci is available for corporate speaking events and wellness coaching, as well as private training. Contact Traci here.