Maintaining an adequate level of energy is a common goal for people of all ages. Proper nutrition is integral to feeling rested and alert. If you are eating the wrong foods, you can feel sluggish and tire easily. Eating the right foods can keep your energy and level of alertness high.
Pulse spoke with Emily Parker, MS, RD, a dietitian with Torrance Memorial Medical Center, regarding foods that can boost your energy. Parker states that our bodies function best when we consume small, frequent meals with foods that don’t spike our blood sugar.
This can be achieved by eating low-glycemic foods to prevent a sharp rise in blood sugar and the subsequent rapid drop that occurs shortly thereafter. Coupling a lean protein with a complex carbohydrate for snacks and meals—along with eating three small- to medium-sized meals and two small snacks, spaced throughout the day—is the best strategy for sustaining your energy.
Breakfast: Loading up on carbohydrates for breakfast by eating pancakes or waffles is not a good way to start your day. A healthier breakfast consists of lean protein and whole grains, such as natural oatmeal or a low-sugar, whole wheat cold cereal with non-fat milk, nuts (almonds, pecans or walnuts) and fresh berries, or a vegetable omelet with salsa and a piece of whole wheat toast.
Lunch: Make a salad with a piece of lean protein from dinner the night before (such as a piece of chicken or salmon) over a bed of romaine lettuce, accompanied by a piece of whole grain bread. Make your own dressing with olive oil, vinegar and fresh herbs. Or try a piece of whole grain toast, nut spread (peanut butter or almond butter) and a piece of fruit.
Dinner: Parker advises following the “My Plate” method discussed at
choosemyplate.gov, which instructs that half your plate should be produce, one quarter of your plate a lean protein and one-quarter starch. Examples of a healthy protein are three ounces of lean beef, chicken or salmon.
Snacks: Eating two snacks a day—one mid-morning and the second one between lunch and dinner—helps keep your energy level steady. Some great snacks are carrots sticks with hummus; peanut butter with whole wheat crackers; non-fat Greek yogurt with nuts and a piece of fresh fruit. A small piece of fruit, such as an apple, pear or orange, paired with string cheese makes a quick and healthy snack.
There are three additional factors that affect energy levels, says Parker. First, stay hydrated. “When we are low on fluid, we can feel fatigued. Drinking water and other unsweetened beverages (sparkling mineral water, green tea) is a great way to stay hydrated.”
Second, get enough sleep. Most experts agree that a minimum of seven hours is essential for adults.
Third, exercise daily to help boost the level of oxygen to your brain. These steps will help you maintain your energy and are important for your overall health.