7 Helpful Tips for Sustaining Energy Throughout the Day
When our bodies crave a “pick-me-up,” we typically choose sugar or caffeine. True, they boost our energy levels, fast. But they don’t have staying power.
Our bodies break all foods down into simple sugars for energy, whether they are highly refined carbs, complex carbs, proteins or fats. Highly processed foods, such as white bread, candy and desserts, are absorbed and digested so quickly that they spike our blood sugar levels, which then plummet.
So we feel a burst of energy followed by a crash. This typically sends us looking for another energy boost (typically more sugar). When this cycle continues, we become fatigued, can’t concentrate, lose our “oomph” and may get headaches. Fortunately, following a few key rules can stop this blood sugar roller-coaster ride and give us sustained energy:
1. Never skip breakfast. Research shows that people who eat breakfast perform better at tasks, eat fewer overall calories and miss fewer days of work and school than those who don’t.
2. Don’t overdo the caffeine. A daily cup or two of java is fine. Going overboard sets you up for fatigue later in the day.
3. Avoid highly refined carbohydrates and seek out fiber. Carbohydrates provide us with much-needed energy, but choosing highly refined carbs over whole grains creates a blood sugar roller-coaster.
4. Add a small amount of lean protein to meals and snacks. Protein takes longer to digest and absorb. When eaten with a carbohydrate, it slows the release of sugar into the bloodstream, sustaining energy.
5. Choose small, frequent meals to fuel your day. Remember not to skip meals. Your energy levels can fall so low that you’ll overeat at the next meal or graze on unhealthy snacks.
6. Get adequate sleep. Most of us need at least seven to eight hours of sleep to avoid fatigue, bolster immune defenses and perform at our best.
7. Engage in regular physical activity. Exercise actually boosts energy levels, especially when done regularly. It can also help us sleep better.