We live in a culture of busy….in fact we claim business as a badge! In a world of saying yes to everything, no wonder everyone is so damn tired. Of course we’d all love to sleep 8 hours a night, but hey, let’s be honest, 8 hours is a DREAM for most folks. So, what is our plan b to get through the day? Insert caffeine! Lattes, tea, energy drinks galore help us push through. But is that the best way?
Energy drinks are technically sold as a dietary supplement, which means they can forgo nutrition labels. No label means we have absolutely NO idea what is in them. Scary. In fact, energy drinks aren’t even required to disclose how much caffeine is actually in the drink. Even scarier. Technically it is safe for most adults to consume 400 mg of caffeine a day. (For reference, 1 cup of coffee has about 80 mg.) But instead of turning to a mystery energy drink or another high calorie, high sugar fancy coffee drink, why not try a new concept: eating for energy!
Nutritionally speaking, here are three things to focus on to help you stay energized all day long:
Complex Carbs – The brain and central nervous system’s preferred energy source is glucose. Glucose is found in carbohydrates like fruit, whole grain pastas, cereal, bread beans, potatoes, and rice. The dietary guidelines recommend that 45-65% of you total calorie intake come from carbohydrate. Carbohydrates can be simple or complex. Simple carbs are things like candy, cake, donuts, white bread, white rice, and baked goods. Complex carbs have more nutrition and fiber. Think fruits, vegetables, beans, potatoes, whole-wheat pasta, whole wheat bread, milk and yogurt. Always choose complex carbs over simple and be sure to spread your carb intake evenly throughout the day.
Magnesium – Did you know magnesium is the 4th most abundant mineral in the body? In fact, magnesium is needed for over 300 chemical and enzymatic processes. This mineral helps you take energy from food and make it into new proteins. It also helps keep your bones, muscle and nerves healthy. Deficiency can lead to fatigue, headaches, anxiety and more. The best sources of magnesium are green leafy vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, fish, and whole grains. Aim for 3 servings of dark greens a week and a serving (1/4 cup) of raw nuts daily.
Water – want more energy? Be sure you are drinking your water! Not enough fluid can lead to fatigue and headaches. Drinking a cup of water can easily reverse these symptoms. Aim for ½ to 1 cup every hour. Added bonus, you have to get up and go to the bathroom. Cheers to extra steps!
- ¼ cup almonds with ¼ cup dried fruit
- ½ banana with 1 Tbsp of peanut butter
- small apple with 1 ounce low fat cheese
- 5 whole grain crackers with 1 ounce low fat cheese or hummus
- ½ sandwich on whole grain bread
- 3 cups light, microwaved popcorn
- ½ cup berries with ¼ cup walnuts