You are what you eat – and if that includes French fries, chocolate shakes and processed meals – you may be feeling sluggish and void of energy. Noshing on nutritious foods that are natural energy producers, at the right times can make you feel like you can accomplish what you need and maybe even take over the world.
Follow these food rules from the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics to get the most energy from what you eat.
1. Eat often.
- Skipping meals or eating just once or twice a day will wreak havoc on your metabolism. Eating every three to four hours will have the opposite effect – fueling a healthy metabolism and maintaining muscle mass.
- Ensuring you eat often will also keep you from getting too hungry and then making unwise food choices. Always having fuel in your system will give you the energy you need to be focused on your daily tasks.
2. Eat light.
- Portions are typically too large. Eat enough to feel satisfied, but not full. If your meal carries you five to six hours without feeling hungry, you’ve probably eaten too much at mealtime.
- Eating too much can make you feel sluggish. So keep it light to carry on your day.
3. Keep it balanced.
- A well-balanced plate will keep you going. Aim for whole grains, lean protein, vegetables, fiber-rich fruit, low-fat dairy and healthy fats.
4. Snacks are a bridge.
- Think of snacks as a way to bridge you from one meal to the next. Snacks should have protein and fiber-rich carbohydrates to keep you going. Think carrots and string cheese, fruit and yogurt, or an apple and handful of nuts. Snacks shouldn’t fill you up, just keep you satisfied.
5. Remove energy zappers.
- Candy, soda, and energy drinks may give you a buzz for an hour – but you’ll always crash afterward, leaving you more sluggish than you were before.
- Go with thirst-quenching water, unsweetened tea, low-calorie flavored water or low-fat milk instead.