How Can Your Diet Directly Impact Your Energy Levels?
Everyone wants to feel alert, well-rested and energetic, but sometimes this is easier hoped for than done. The fatigue that everyday life brings can have a disastrous effect on your wellness, wreaking havoc on your immune system and dampening your emotional wellbeing. However, you can have a direct and positive impact on your energy levels by making certain changes to your diet.
1. Eat nutrient-packed foods as much as possible: According to registered dietician Dina Aronson, MS, RD, President of Welltech Solutions, ‘Optimal energy metabolism (the process that converts food to energy) requires an abundance of vitamins and minerals. Every cell in our body can unlock its energy potential with the proper fuel from food. If we don’t get enough nutrients from foods, we suffer from sub-optimal cellular energy metabolism, making us feel tired and sluggish.’ Therefore, you’re going for a good nutrition-per-calorie rate. The best foods for this are vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds, fruits, whole grains, and lean animal proteins.
2. Pick high-antioxidant foods: Colourful juicy fruits like berries and melons, and dark green leafy vegetables like kale, broccoli, collard greens, and spinach, should be high on your list of food priorities as they are high in antioxidants. These little beauties fight against free radicals in your body, which might otherwise tax your system and cause damage to your cells which, in turn, causes fatigue and chronic illnesses.
3. Opt for omega-3s: ‘Studies show that diets high in omega-3 fats improve mood, memory, and thinking, which are related to focus and energy,’ says Aronson. While omega-3 supplements like fish oil can help you out, they’re no substitute for food sources like fish, flax seeds, flax oil, hemp seeds, hemp oil, leafy greens, or walnuts. You should try to get at least one excellent source of omega-3 fats a day.
4. Ditch the diet: Aronson notes, ‘If your “diet” is synonymous with “deprivation,” you’re doing your body a “disservice.” Skimping on calories ultimately decreases your metabolism as your body tries to conserve all the energy it can. That’s why dieters often feel lethargic.’ Moreover, as your metabolism slows down, your body begins to burn even fewer calories, and then you enviably consume more calories later and put all the weight back on anyway – what’s the point? You’re far better off revving up your metabolism and keeping your energy levels high by meeting your calorie needs every day. After all, you’re going to need that energy to exercise, which should form part of everyone’s weight loss plan.
5. Don’t neglect breakfast: As with deprivation, skipping breakfast seems like a good diet tip to follow initially, but you end up hurting yourself in the long-run by doing so. Aronson asserts, ‘Studies show that a good breakfast not only gets your metabolism going, but it will help keep you alert and satisfied until lunch. Bonus: healthy breakfast eaters set the stage for a full day of healthy eating.’ So you shouldn’t skip breakfast, nor should you fill it with processed foods like donuts, pastries, white bagels, cereal, and waffles. Instead, choose fresh fruit, wholegrain hot or cold cereal with nuts/seeds, wholegrain bread with nut butter, or even last night’s casserole.
6. Drink plenty of water: ‘Being properly hydrated is a very easy and effective way to keep your energy high,’ says Aronson. ‘The body needs water, and lots of it, to function optimally.’ Don’t waste your money and calories on vitamin waters and energy drinks – unless you’re an endurance athlete. Rather, have fresh water on hand at all times and drink at least one cup every two hours. If nothing else, all those extra trips to the loo will help you get moving more!