Lots of foods and drinks are touted as energy boosters, but calories are the real source of our energy. Where should our calories come from and what else can we do to fight fatigue?
Simply put, calories are energy. Taking in the right balance of calories will maintain our energy levels. Eating more energy, or calories, than we can burn off will leave us feeling sluggish (and pack on the pounds). If we don’t take in enough, we’ll experience fatigue (and probably lose weight). Carbohydrates, fat, and protein all provide calories, but carbohydrates are the body’s preferred energy source.
Be Carb Smart
Foods or beverages high in simple carbs, or sugars, like regular soft drinks, desserts, and candy will give you a quick energy boost. But you’ll most certainly crash soon after. Complex carbs like starches will keep you going longer, especially if they are paired with fiber or protein. Most whole grains and starchy vegetables have that one-two punch of carbs and fiber that’ll help you tackle that slump. Throw in some protein (e.g., beans, dairy, nuts, or meat), and your engine will stay revved between meals (incidentally, beans are a fabulous choice because they have a great mix of carbs, fiber, and protein to really keep up your energy).
And those energy drinks and shots that you swear up and down give you a lift? Most do provide you energy in the form of simple sugars. But it’s the caffeine giving you a jolt because it’s a nervous system stimulant. If you need some caffeine to wake up, go for sugar-free caffeinated options like carb-free energy drinks, coffee, or diet soda (if you must). If you start to feel jittery, it means you’ve had too much. If you can’t sleep at night, then you may be consuming caffeine too late in the day.
If you’re still looking for that energy boost and want to fight fatigue, you may need to:
- • Eat breakfast. A healthful breakfast feeds your brain helping you wake up.
- • Include protein foods with every meal. Not only does protein help sustain your energy, it plays a role in keeping you awake.
- • Get enough sleep. Sleeping less than 7 hours a night can leave you feeling tired and less alert.
- • Obey your thirst. Even being a little bit dehydrated can trigger fatigue.
- • Eat a balanced diet that includes fruits, veggies, whole grains, low-fat dairy or dairy substitutes, and lean proteins. This will ensure you obtain the nutrients your body needs for optimal health.
- • Exercise. Exercising regularly builds up your stamina, while not exercising contributes to fatigue.