Have you ever had one of those days where it seems like your ‘get up and go’ just got up and went? Ever noticed that even though you may have started out strong in the a.m., by the p.m. your energy just seemed to evaporate? Generally reported by more women than men, sluggishness can be caused by many things. But believe it or not, poor nutrition is often the culprit for this phenomenon. This is because when we choose the wrong foods to fuel our bodies our performance is negatively impacted. The fix for this problem can be as simple as altering your diet. The most important factor in the endeavour towards healthy eating is to eat a well-balanced diet filled with carbohydrates, proteins, along with essential vitamins and minerals. Be creative with your meals. Make them fun and plan ahead to eliminate the tendency of grabbing something unhealthy due to cravings or hunger pangs.
Get the power ball rolling with breakfast
Many persons rush off to work or school without a thought to their body’s dietary needs. Who has time to eat in the morning anyway?
Research shows that breakfast improves concentration and alertness and helps you shed weight by preventing overeating during the day. Nutrition and diet experts recommend carbohydrates for energy and protein for endurance. For those in a rush some quick options for breakfast include:
- Cereal with fruit and yogurt
- Oatmeal with raisins
- Whole grain toast with peanut butter and fruit
- Scrambled eggs, toast and fruit
- Whole grain bagel or bread with cheese
Keep it Going throughout the Day Healthy eating shouldn’t end with the morning meal. A well-balanced diet throughout the day is an essential source of sustained energy. Carbohydrates have got a bad reputation in recent years. However, it is still the body’s preferred source of energy. They offer fuel to the body in the form of glucose, which is the best energy source for the brain and central nervous system, two vital body systems.
The best way to maximise the body’s potential for energy is to consume a combination of simple and complex carbohydrates. Complex carbohydrates are slow burning and as such should constitute the bulk of the carbohydrates we eat. These include whole grains and starchy vegetables such as pumpkin, carrots, sweet potatoes and squash. Simple carbohydrates provide a faster burn and can therefore provide an immediate source of energy.
Great sources for this type of food are like those found in fruits, vegetables, and honey. Bananas, apples, oranges, papaya, callaloo, broccoli, asparagus, and spinach are good picks. Ensure that your complex carbohydrates have fibre as this helps the carbohydrates to be more slowly absorbed by the body, giving a more balanced release of energy, as opposed to the quick burst. Many processed carbohydrates, such as pasta, white rice and white bread contain little or no fibre. Check the label for fibre content prior to purchasing. A slice of bread should ideally contain 2 to 3 grams of fibre.
Yes, fats and carbohydrates may supply the body with energy, but protein works to help regulate the release of that power. Protein maintains cells, assists in growth, transports hormones and vitamins and preserves lean muscle mass. Muscles and many hormones are, in fact, made up of protein. You need proteins for your immune system and it is considered an essential energy food – especially when you’re trying to drop a few pounds. So replenishing your body’s source of the nutrient is very important. Good sources of protein include meat, fish poultry, nuts, eggs, beans, soy and low-fat dairy products. And don’t forget to include yogurt. With a rainbow of flavours to choose from, it is a healthy breakfast or snack option if you’re in a hurry. Rich in magnesium, which is crucial for the release of energy, yogurt also adds a dose of calcium to your diet and will help replenish your glycogen sources. When the body does not get its usual fuel of carbohydrates and fat, protein will step in to provide the energy needed. Ensure that you eat direct plant-source foods to round off your sources of these three.
Don’t Forget Water
Since two-thirds of your body is water, its importance cannot be overemphasised. Not only does it help control body temperature, move food through the intestines, and grease the joints, it is also essential in the production of energy. And dehydration is actually one of the leading causes of a lack of energy. Other dietary reasons for lack of energy include too much alcohol – a depressant – and a deficiency in certain vitamins and minerals. Low iron is a fairly common problem for women. If after covering all nutritional bases with a well-balanced diet you still find yourself struggling to get through the day, consider visiting your doctor for a check-up.