Potions, pills and pick-me-up tonics promise immediate boosted energy and they pledge fatigue busting properties; at a price!
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But, guess what? You don’t need them.
When you eat food, and we mean real food, you provide your body with all of the energy and nutrients it needs to get through the day without so much as a stifled yawn.
Through breakfast, lunch and dinner, with a combination of micronutrients and macronutrients, you have the opportunity to build a solid foundation of all-day energy. Here’s what that would look like…
It’s a debate that has spanned decades: is breakfast really the most important meal of the day? Maybe, maybe not. We still don’t really know the answer. What we do know, is that in order to keep your energy levels up all day, it sure doesn’t hurt to have a good, energy-boosting breakfast!
How do you do that, you ask? Well, here are a few options:
- Oatmeal. A bowl of real, raw, steel cut oats is a great way to start your morning3. The carbohydrates from the oats break down slowly, releasing sugar into the bloodstream over a longer period of time when compared to instant, flavoured varieties of oatmeal (delicious, yes, but they’ll likely leave you hungry within the hour!). Add a little protein in the form of chopped nuts, soy milk or even a half scoop of your fav protein powder, and it’ll give you all the nutrients your body needs to kick start your day.
- Omelette. Eggs are a great breakfast food4, and easy to whip up into a ton of delicious recipes. An omelette might sound complex and time consuming, but it’s a beaten egg, poured into a pan, cooked for a few minutes and stuffed with grated zucchini, baby spinach, tomato, spring onions, mushrooms and peppers and you have a full-on healthy breakfast that keeps you satisfied for hours.
If you’re not still full from breakfast, lunch give you another opportunity to give your body some gas to get through the day. Forget lettuce leaves, fruit smoothies or anything that’ll shoot your blood sugar up. Take the time to toss together a balanced meal in the evenings when you have time, and you’ll be thankful you do when you’ve got the energy you need to tackle late meetings and whatever else life throws at you towards the end of the day (HIIT class, anyone?).
What should lunch look like? Go with the three Gs:
- Greens5. From celery to spinach, kale, cucumbers, broccoli, avocado, green onions, leeks, lettuce, chives, the works. Choose anything green, mix them up, and make it the base on which you build your lunch, then go from there…
- Grains. Healthy grains, that is6. Quinoa, brown rice, amaranth, barley (unless you’re gluten-free), they contain essential nutrients, like those energy-boosting B vitamins, and healthy fibre, which helps to regulate your blood sugar, further helping to maintain your energy levels. You don’t need much, just a tablespoon or two to give you the textures, and the rest comes in the form of…
- Glorious colors7. Reds, oranges, yellows, purples, and every other colour of the rainbow should come next. Purple onions and olives, yellow peppers and corn, red radishes and tomatoes, orange carrots and roasted butternut squash, whatever you have that can add colour to your bowl, add it in.
Now comes the fun part: pick your protein. Protein is important for stabilizing blood sugar and providing the building blocks (those little compounds called amino acids), and can be in the form of beans, tofu, chicken, boiled egg, fish or even lean beef.
With so much variety, and the ability to put it all together in preparation for the next day’s lunch, you’ll never be wanting for a healthy, nutrient and energy-dense meal to help you get through those long afternoons.
Having eaten like a queen all day, having made it through to dinner without so much as a flicker of fatigue, dinner can be quite light. A small portion of protein (fish, lean meat, tofu or beans) accompanied by two fist-sized portions of vegetables can sustain you throughout the night so that you wake up fresh, and ready to do it all over again.
Your very own fridge holds the key to all day, sustainable energy. Which energy-boosting nutrients will it provide you with today?
- Solon-Biet, S., et al. Macronutrients and caloric intake in health and longevity. J Endocrinol. 2015 Jul; 226(1): R17–R28.
- Walsh, C., et al. Effects of Diet Composition on Postprandial Energy Availability during Weight Loss Maintenance.PLoS One. 2013. 8(3): e58172.
- Fulgoni, V., et al. Oatmeal consumption is associated with better diet quality and lower body mass index in adults: the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), 2001-2010. Nutrition Research. 35(12):1052-1059.
- Gilbert, L. The Functional Food Trend: What’s Next And What Americans Think About Eggs. Journal of the American College of Nutrition. 2013. 19(5):5072-512S.
- Slavin, J., & Lloyd, B. Health Benefits of Fruits and Vegetables. Advances in Nutrition, Volume 3, Issue 4, July 2012, Pages 506–516.
- Okarter, N., & Liu, R. Health Benefits of Whole Grain Phytochemicals. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition. 2010. 50(3):193-208.
- Van Duyn, M., & Pivonka, E. Overview of the Health Benefits of Fruit and Vegetable Consumption for the Dietetics Professional: Selected Literature. Journal of the American Dietetic Association. Volume 100, Issue 12, December 2000, Pages 1511-1521.