Eating to Boost Energy

By Tara Gidus, MS, RDN, LDN, CSSD
smiling girl eating grapes

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Let's face it, we are in an energy crisis. We, as a society, are busy, stressed, need more physical activity and sometimes have poor eating habits — all contributing to low energy levels. One way to fix our energy deficit is to eat better. The right combinations of food can give you a boost. Follow these five strategies to maximize your energy.

Eat Often

Eating every three to four hours can help to fuel a healthy metabolism, maintain muscle mass and prevent between-meal hunger that can lead to unwise snacking. If you only are eating one to two meals a day, this will be an adjustment. As you learn how to eat more frequently throughout the day, remind yourself that you will feel better and be more focused when you have fuel in your system on a regular basis.

Honor Your Hunger and Fullness Cues

Eating just enough, but not too much, helps to curb cravings and reduces chances of overeating. Keep in mind that portions often are too large. If your meal carries you five to six hours without hunger pangs, it's likely that you're eating too much. On a scale of 0 to 10 (where 0 is starving and 10 is painfully full), try eating to about a 5 or 6 level, where you are comfortably full but not stuffed.

Balance Your Plate

A balanced meal includes whole grains, lean protein, fiber-rich fruits and vegetables, fat-free or low-fat dairy and a small amount of healthy fats. Balance out your plate with all the food groups for sustained energy.

Snacks Are a Bridge

Don't skip this important eating event. Snacks should have protein and fiber-rich carbohydrates to provide lasting energy. Grab an apple and a handful of nuts; carrots and string cheese; or Greek yogurt and fresh berries. Keep in mind that snacks are not intended to fill you up, but to bridge you from one meal to the next.

Remove Energy Zappers

Skip the soda, sugary coffee and energy drinks. These foods may leave you buzzing for an hour, but likely will cause an energy crash. Instead, quench your thirst with water, fat-free or low-fat milk, low-calorie flavored water or unsweetened tea.

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