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Eating to Boost Energy

Reviewers: Academy Nutrition Information Services Team

Published: July 17, 2020

Reviewed: August 22, 2023

Woman feeling tired at work - Eating to Boost Energy
Central IT Alliance/iStock/Thinkstock

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 improve our energy levels is by eating better. The right combinations of food may help give you a boost. Follow these five strategies to maximize your energy.

Eat Regularly

Planning to eat every three to four hours may help prevent between-meal hunger that can lead to unwise snacking or overeating at meals. If you only are eating one to two meals a day, this may 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. On a scale of 0 to 10 (where 0 is starving and 10 is painfully full), try eating to about a 6 level, where you are comfortably full but not stuffed.

Balance Your Plate

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

Use Snacks As a Bridge

Snacks should have lean protein and carbohydrates providing dietary fiber to provide lasting energy. Grab an apple and a handful of unsalted nuts; carrots and string cheese; or low-fat 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 foods and beverages with added sugars, such as soda, sugar-sweetened coffee and energy drinks. These beverages 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, unsweetened flavored water or unsweetened tea.

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