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Eating for Energy

Eating for Energy

A healthy diet can help us feel energized, alert, and ready for the day. In this article we’ll cover what types of food to eat, what to avoid, and how to plan your meals for optimized energy levels.

The Energy Nutrients

Everything your body does requires energy. We get this energy from the 3 main nutrients: carbohydrates, protein, and fat. Carbohydrates are our main source of energy. During digestion, carbohydrates are broken down into a sugar molecule called glucose which powers the cells in our muscles, nerves, and brain. Fats are the second most important source of energy in our diet. When fats are digested, they become fatty acids which are used by cells to create energy. Proteins are the last main nutrient in our diet. During digestion, proteins are broken down into their amino acid building blocks which our body uses to make new proteins like the ones in our muscles. Because carbohydrates, proteins, and fats power our body functions they are called energy nutrients. Choosing the right type of energy nutrient can have a massive impact on our energy levels. 

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Carbs- Complex or Simple?

The glucose we get from carbohydrates is the most efficient way to boost your energy, but before you reach for a cookie – consider the type of carbohydrate you are eating. Carbohydrates are chains of glucose molecules. Longer glucose chains are called complex carbohydrates, and shorter chains are called simple carbohydrates. Simple carbohydrates are quickly broken down into glucose molecules, causing a glucose spike followed by a crash. The energy we get from simple carbohydrates is intense and short-lasting – not great for a busy day!

Simple carbohydrates are found in lots of foods, but to avoid a glucose crash try to limit things like candy, table sugar, and sweet processed foods such as cereal and cookies. Should you cut out carbs? No! To avoid an energy slump reach for complex carbohydrates instead. Complex carbohydrates take longer to digest and provide glucose slowly over several hours, helping you feel energized without any spikes and crashes. Complex carbohydrates are found in legumes, vegetables, and nuts as well as wholegrains like brown rice and oats.

Brain Food

Feeling energized starts in the brain. The brain can’t store its own energy, so needs a constant supply of glucose from the carbohydrates we eat. If the brain runs out of energy, we begin to feel tired and lethargic. Choosing carbohydrates that slowly release their glucose will feed your brain and keep you energized throughout the day.

Everyday Energy

Snack Smart

Avoid the afternoon slump by adding some snack options to your meal plan. A few nuts or a piece of fruit can give you an energy boost when you need it most.

Smaller Meals

Smaller and more frequent meals take less effort to digest and help keep your blood glucose steady.

Hydrate

Blood transports energy to cells, and blood is made mostly of water. Even mild dehydration can cause fatigue – so drink up!

Caffeine and Alcohol

Alcohol and caffeine reduce sleep quality and cause dehydration – both of which drain us of energy. Avoid caffeine later in the day, limit your alcohol intake, and drink lots of water.

Try these tips and see how your energy levels improve and tell us about it in the comment section.

References

<h2 style="color: #3f3b36; font-family: Merriweather, serif; font-size: 26px; font-weight: 400; font-style: italic;">Abigail Walker Msc, ANutr</h2>

Abigail Walker Msc, ANutr

Abigail's academic background includes biological sciences and human health and behaviour (Neuroscience, BSc; Brain Sciences, MSc; Nutrition and Behaviour, MSc). From this, she has excellent skills in research, data presentation, idea communication and technical and academic writing. In addition to her science credentials, she is an avid reader and an award winning creative writer whose original work has been published in online magazines.

<h2 style="color: #3f3b36; font-family: Merriweather, serif; font-size: 24px; font-weight: 400; font-style: italic;">Abigail Walker Msc, ANutr</h2>

Abigail Walker Msc, ANutr

Abigail's academic background includes biological sciences and human health and behaviour (Neuroscience, BSc; Brain Sciences, MSc; Nutrition and Behaviour, MSc). From this, she has excellent skills in research, data presentation, idea communication and technical and academic writing. In addition to her science credentials, she is an avid reader and an award winning creative writer whose original work has been published in online magazines.

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