Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Eat to Boost Energy

Food gives us much-needed energy. Just like a car, our body needs fuel to run. It is important to maintain normal blood sugar levels, and the best way to accomplish this is by eating every few hours any never let our “tank” get empty.

Studies show people who Eat Breakfast have a better mood, have more energy throughout the day, overeat less at night, and are less likely to be overweight. After an overnight fast eating breakfast supplies your body with fuel and signals your metabolism to start burning energy efficiently. Eating a 300-400 calorie nutrient rich breakfast balanced with fiber and protein will help provide a steady stream of energy. This will keep you satisfied longer than a sugary breakfast filled with empty calories. Try:

·         Whole wheat English muffin with 1 tbs peanut butter topped with sliced banana

·         Nonfat Greek yogurt topped with 1/3 cup low-fat granola and ¾ cup blueberries

·         1 egg and 2 egg whites mixed with spinach and tomato with 2 slices whole wheat toast

·         1 cup whole grain cereal with 1 cup nonfat milk, 2 tbs walnuts, and 1 cup sliced melon

·         2 frozen whole grain waffles topped with ½ cup nonfat yogurt, 1 tbs slivered almonds, and 1 cup fresh raspberries

Enjoy a Power Snack by eating between each meal. Studies show eating large quantities of food stimulates increased insulin production and deposition of fat. Eating less more often, through smaller meals and snacks every 3-4 hours encourages your metabolism to consistently burn calories, your blood sugar levels to remain stable, and you to stay well energized. Just like breakfast, combine fiber with protein to provide a nutrient dense power snack. Try:

·         1 oz low fat cheese and 1 medium apple

·         1 cup baby carrots and 2 tbs hummus

·         23 almonds

·         Single serve low fat yogurt with ¾ cup berries

·         2 rice cakes with 1 tbs peanut butter and ½ banana

Maintaining consistent energy is established through keeping blood sugar balanced. Eating more whole grains and less sugar helps allow a slow and steady release of carbohydrates into the bloodstream. When we eat sweet foods or refined carbs, such as cookies, candy, or white rice, we get a spike in blood sugar and an initial burst of energy which is followed by a rapid drop in blood sugar. We then have feelings of fatigue and may start eating more to compensate for our drop in energy. If we do this enough times in a day, we feel exhausted by the evening. Studies also show people who eat whole grains can lower their cholesterol levels, manage their diabetes better, and are less likely to be overweight. Try:

·         Brown rice

·         Popcorn

·         Oatmeal

·         Any grain that starts with “whole”

·         Quinoa

Dehydration can deplete our energy levels and lower our metabolism. Drink water throughout the day to stay well hydrated, remembering thirst is not a good indicator of hydration status. Most people need about 8-10 cups of fluid daily. Water is the best but other fluids count towards that total too. Keep in mind caffeine may be a quick pick-me-up but once the caffeine wears off, where will your energy levels be? Drinking caffeine and alcohol later in the day can also affect your quality of sleep. Get enough sleep to restore your energy levels and promote greater health. Studies show lack of sleep contributes to weight gain, increased risk of cardiovascular disease, increased rates of depression, aging, accidents, and forgetfulness.

Magnesium supports over 300 enzymatic reactions within the body and plays a significant role in how our body produces energy. Magnesium is the most common nutrient deficiencies in the United States…along with calcium and vitamins A, C, D, and E. Food high in fiber are generally high in magnesium as well. Men need about 420mg daily; women need about 320mg daily. Try:

·         Dark Leafy Greens: Spinach, Swiss chard, Kale

·         Nuts and Seeds: Pumpkin, Sesame, Brazil Nuts, Almonds, Cashews, Pine Nuts

·         Fish: Mackerel, Pollock, Tuna

·         Beans and Lentils: Soybeans, White beans, French beans, Black-eyed peas

·         Whole Grains: Brown Rice, Quinoa, Millet, Bulgur, Buckwheat, Wild Rice

Treat yourself to a piece of Dark Chocolate to fight off fatigue. Dark chocolate comprised of at least 70% cocoa contains a significant amount of flavanols which have been linked to lowering blood pressure, decreasing LDL cholesterol oxidation, increasing insulin sensitivity, decreasing inflammation, and reducing fatigue. Researchers believe chocolate may increase serotonin levels in the brain helping to regulate mood and sleep which helps alleviate chronic fatigue. One study also showed increased blood flow to the brain for 2-3 hours after consumption which may increase alertness and cognitive skills.

Food is fuel and picking the right nutrients at the right time gives you optimal energy throughout the day.

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