How many times throughout the day do you find that you have low energy? Do you need that cup of coffee in the morning to function properly? Are you useless in your workout if you don’t have your pre-workout? Many people find themselves in these situations and it seems that low energy is something that hits everyone from time to time, if not all the time.
Now there are many factors involved in energy production and going over all of them is well beyond the scope of this blog post. So I want to focus on one of the main ones. Nutrition.
Here is a list of my top five nutrition tips to help improve your energy.
Eat Whole Foods
Whole foods can be described as foods that have one ingredient and either were grown from the ground or had parents. So think of carrots and chicken as examples. These are the foods that human beings evolved on and what our bodies were designed to eat. These foods have not only your macronutrients (carbohydrates, protein and fat), but also your micronutrients (vitamins and minerals). This is important because in order to produce energy, you need macronutrients (this is where your calories come from), but also micronutrients. Micronutrients help to run the chemical reactions that occur in your body to produce energy. When you eat foods that are high in macronutrients, but are low on micronutrients (such as processed foods, which are found in packages and have long ingredients lists), it’s harder for the body to produce energy from those macronutrients. There’s a lot more complexity to this, but rest assured that in the end, you’ll have more energy eating whole foods than you will eating processed foods.
Eat a Variety of Colours
This point relates to the previous one in that it helps you to get more micronutrients. The compounds that give fruits and vegetables various colours are often quite beneficial for us and can have many positive health effects. Some help with improving your immune function, others provide you with antioxidants, while others still help with energy production. Aim to make your plate as colourful as you can at every meal.
Find Your Right Balance of Macronutrients
We all have different nutritional needs. Some of us need more protein, some more fat and others more carbs. When you get your ratios of protein, fat and carbs just right for your personal needs, you’ll notice improvement in not only your energy, but also your hunger and cravings will drop and your mood will improve throughout the day as well. The best way to do this is with trial and error coupled with journaling. Start with a certain ratio (30% carbohydrates, 30% protein and 40% fat, for instance) and spend a few weeks there. A couple of hours after each meal, journal how your energy, mood, cravings and hunger are. You should have good energy and mood, along with no hunger or cravings. If not, you need to adjust your ratio. Make sure that you give your body a few weeks to get used to a certain ratio though. Sometimes, even if something is right for you, your body will need to adjust to it. You should calculate your ratios using total calories from each macronutrient, not grams.
Avoid Sugar/Starch Binges
Yes, we get energy from sugar and starches, but when we binge on either of these, that energy won’t last very long. What happens is that we get a spike in blood sugar levels, which gives us energy, but then our bodies secrete insulin, which drives our blood sugar levels down, making us lethargic. When you do have sugar or starches, try to get them from sources that are coupled with fiber, fat and/or protein. This will allow the sugar to be absorbed into the bloodstream at a slower rate and avoid you getting a spike along with a subsequent crash.
Rotate Your Foods
When we constantly eat the same few foods all the time, we greatly increase the risk of becoming intolerant to those foods. Once you develop a food intolerance, many various symptoms may arise from continuing to eat that food. One being a drop in energy. So to avoid developing an intolerance, make sure that you don’t eat any food item every day. Ideally, you want to stay away from any particular food item for two separate 24 hour periods per week. A nice goal to strive for, which can help with this, is to attempt to eat 35 different foods per week. That may sound like a lot, but if you give it a shot, you’ll find that it’s very doable.
Hopefully, you’re able to incorporate some, if not all, of these changes to your diet and notice a boost in energy that will allow you to get through your whole day with an extra spring in your step.