Are you tired of being tired? Instead of succumbing to a daily 3 p.m. slump, there are certain foods that can help you fight fatigue and keep your energy levels consistently high throughout the day. To feel an extra pep in your step...read on!
Avoid the white
Foods such as white bread, white pasta, white potatoes and rice are rated high on the glycemic index. When these types of food are eaten in abundance and often, they tend to elicit a state of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). Symptoms of hypoglycemia include fatigue, moodiness and mental fogginess. Selecting lower glycemic index grains such as whole grains that have not been refined (e.g., kamut, spelt or 100 per cent whole wheat), sweet potatoes and brown rice will help to keep your energy up and weight down. As a general rule, check the nutrition facts label -- a good bread will contain 2 to 3 grams of fibre per slice.
Not only is green tea loaded with antioxidants and a terrific addition to any weight-loss program, it also contains natural caffeine that fights fatigue, as it mimics the same feelings you get from coffee. Looking to quit or decrease your morning java? Turn to some delicious green tea to avoid coffee withdrawals and keep energy up.
Protein it up
Eating the right amount of protein helps to balance blood sugar, which in turn avoids energy fluctuations. Optimal sources of protein are those that are lower in saturated fat, such as low-fat dairy products (yogurt, cottage cheese, low-fat cheese), chicken, fish, turkey, soy and egg whites. On average, men need approximately 5 to 7 ounces of protein per meal while women need approximately 4 to 6 ounces of protein per meal. For an approximate measurement technique, the palm of your hand (without fingers or thumb) is equivalent to 3 ounces of protein.
Water yourself down You're not tired...you're thirsty! Many symptoms that occur in the body, such as fatigue, are an indication of dehydration, not illness. In order to fight fatigue, make sure you are hydrating yourself daily with 6 to 8 glasses of fresh, clean water, herbal tea or watered down 100 per cent fruit juice.
Page 1 of 2 - Read page two to find out why your lunch should be bigger than your dinner
When selecting your foods, try to make your plate look as colourful as a pack of Crayola markers. Nature is very wise and has made our healthiest food -- loaded with nutrients and vitamins -- bright and beautiful. Tomatoes, blueberries, raspberries, broccoli, sweet potatoes, carrots, oranges and spinach are just a few of the nutritional superstars that will leave you feeling full of life.
Choose iron-rich foods
We need iron to produce hemoglobin, the main component of red blood cells. Hemoglobin acts by transporting oxygen to cells in your body, where it is used to produce energy. If your iron stores are low (called iron-deficiency anemia), your red blood cells can't supply as much oxygen to the cells, resulting in poor energy. There are two sources of iron in food:
• Heme: The most absorbable form of iron. Found in red meat, organ meats and eggs.
• Non-heme: A less absorbable form of iron. Found in iron-enriched cereal, dark green leafy vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds and some dried fruit. To increase the absorption of non-heme iron, eat with vitamin C-rich foods; add strawberries to cereal or have it with an orange.
In addition to "what" you eat, the "how" you eat is also important to keeping your energy up. For starters, try to avoid overeating yourself into a food coma. Instead, make your meals last a minimum of 20 minutes. It takes this long for your stomach receptors to register a "full" signal to your brain. By taking your time while you are eating meals, you will eat until you are sufficiently satiated -- not stuffed!
In addition, try to make lunch a larger meal than dinner. Avoid eating large carbohydrate-dense meals such as toast or a plate of pasta right before bed. Eat dinner earlier and have a mix of veggies and a protein such as chicken or fish with some healthy fats such as olive oil or crushed walnuts.
In a nutshell
Food and water intake is intimately related to energy levels. By following the simple "what" and "how" tips outlined above, you will quickly find that extra energy surge you were looking for throughout your day!
Dr. Joey Shulman's latest book is The Natural Makeover Diet (Wiley, 2006). For more information, please visit www.drjoey.com.
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