If you suffer from that mid-morning craving crash or late afternoon drowsiness as you leave the office, it's time to change! Eating throughout the day plays a big part in keeping your weight balanced, your motivation and concentration zeroed in, and your energy levels boosted. Here are the 8 simple rules that, when combined with a good workout routine, keep you staying alert and exhilarated!
#1 Never Go Hungry
"It's extremely difficult to exercise when you haven't eaten enough or at all, so to keep your blood sugar from getting low and to sustain your energy, you need to eat small amounts of carbohydrate-containing foods throughout the day." says Dan Benardot, PhD, RD, professor of nutrition and director of the Laboratory for Elite Athlete Performance at Georgia State University.
He recommends fibrous whole grains that won't cause a drop in blood pressure. Try oatmeal with fruit and whole wheat toast with almond butter. For more tasty ideas, check out the BodyRock Meal Plan
#2 Always Hydrate
"Even a small amount of water loss can impair your ability to perform." explains Christine Rosenbloom, PhD, RD, professor of nutrition at Georgia State University.
Not getting enough water is an easy pattern for us to fall into, but it can wreak havoc on your ability to stay energized. Drinking 6 to 8 ounces of water before and after you exercise is important and always sipping on some H2O throughout the day will help tremendously.
#3 Save Sports Drinks For Exercise
Hydrate throughout your day with water and only use sports drinks as an added boost for working out. They contain glucose and powerful electrolytes to fuel your system while you sweat it out. Their high sodium content also helps you hold in your fluid if you're going for a long run and can't stop for a pee break.
#4 Don't Calorie-Overload
Keep your calorie intake balanced during each meal so you don't overdo it. It's key to limit calories before you exercise, as they can sabotage your fat-burning power.
"If you're planning to walk 40 minutes or longer after work and you haven't eaten since lunch, an energy bar that contains protein as well as carbohydrates is a quick-energy option." says Rosenbloom. "I recommend to my clients that they eat half a bar. That way they can choose the one they want without overloading on calories."
#5 Find Your Protein Match
Protein has staying power. Whether blended into your morning shake or eaten as part of a balanced breakfast, protein can work wonders for enlivening your body's energy levels. It actually extends the energy you glean from food to help you get through your morning spin class and still stay awake for your office meeting. While you're working, protein works to activate muscle growth. The best sources of protein come from poultry, fish, red meat, Greek yogurt, legumes, nuts, and nut butters. Plant-based powders are another way to add a scoop of protein into your diet.
#6 Monitor Your Nutrients
Nutrients help you get the most out of your exercise routine, but they are often neglected. For example, walking can strengthen your bones but it needs fuel from vitamin D and calcium to really have an effect. The average person needs about 1,000 mg of calcium daily, so getting enough is a priority. Try incorporating leafy greens and fortified milk into your diet for calcium, lots of beans, tofu or red meat for iron (which boosts energy dramatically) and seafood for enzyme-igniting zinc.
#7 Unlock The Power Of Fish
Twice-weekly servings of tuna, salmon and sardines can significantly increase your energy level and reduce strain and stress put on your body. These omega-3 rich foods are amazing for decreasing inflammation. The less inflamed your body is, the more high-functioning it will be.
#8 Trim The Fat
Bad-for-you fats will leave you feeling sluggish and decrease your immunity, meaning you'll get get sick, tired and stressed easily.
"Fat is the last nutrient to leave the stomach, and it slows down digestion. You don't want your body to increase its blood flow to the stomach when you need it flowing to your muscles—this can drag you down." says Rosenbloom. "If you're eating right, you'll feel good about what you're doing—and you'll want to do it again tomorrow."
What are your tricks to staying focused, energized and revitalized each day?