Could you use more energy? If the amount of coffee Americans drink (according to one poll, 2-3 cups) per day is any indication of our collective desire for energy — it’s safe to say you’re probably looking for a boost.
While a cup or two of coffee can be part of a healthy diet, overdoing it on caffeine isn’t the answer to sustained energy every day. Instead of reaching for your next cup of coffee, try these 5 tips to boost energy, naturally.
- Eat regular meals and snacks. As a general rule, most people need to eat something every 3-5 hours. The exact frequency can vary from one day to another and depends on how much and what you ate at your last meal, exercise, sleep and stress. By eating at regular intervals, you avoid big drops in energy. It also reduces that chance that you’ll show up to a meal so starving that you overeat, which can lead to post-meal fatigue (hey post Thanksgiving nap!).
- Balance your meals with protein, fiber, and fat. These three nutrients slow digestion and keep the release of glucose (your body’s main source of energy) steady after a meal. Aim to include:
- Protein from either plants (nuts, seeds, beans, lentils, soy products, and some whole grains) or animal sources (meat, poultry, fish, and dairy). They both do the job of slowing digestion, though plant-based protein offers many additional health benefits.
- Fiber, which is found in whole grains like oats, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds.
- Fat from plant sources like nuts, seeds, avocados, and olive oil offers many health benefits and is packaged with other good-for-you nutrients.
- Eat enough throughout the day. Undereating tells your body that it needs to conserve energy to keep you alive. So it reserves any energy you consume for your organs and drains you of the energy you need to live your best life.
- Eat enough carbohydrates. Carbs are your body’s preferred source of energy. Your brain, which uses about 25% of your daily energy relies entirely on glucose, which is the simplest form of carbohydrates. However, not all carbs provide that long-lasting energy you’re looking for. Complex carbs, like those found in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and beans contain fiber, which is important to consistent energy, so choose those most often.
- Snack Smart: Snacks play the important role of sustaining your energy in-between meals, and can keep you off of an energy roller coaster. Choose snacks that contain protein, fiber, and fat (or at least two of the three). BeBOLD bars are well balanced with protein, fiber, and fat from the nut butter, chia and oats making them a super satisfying snack! Other quick and easy balanced snacks include an apple (or other fruit) with a handful of nuts, Greek yogurt with fruit, or whole grain crackers with hummus.
Lastly don’t forget to take care of yourself by drinking enough water (or other unsweetened, caffeine-free beverages), getting enough sleep, and moving your body regularly. Pair these with the above and you’ll find yourself with more energy than you’ve ever had!
Sarah Gold Anzlovar, MS, RDN, LDN is a registered dietitian and the owner of Sarah Gold Nutrition, a virtual private practice and nutrition communications consulting business in the suburbs of Boston. She empowers busy moms to learn to eat to feel their best without the stress.