When it comes to eating for energy, certain foods are better than others. If you feel like your energy levels aren’t quite where they should be, registered dietitian Tracy Lockwood Beckerman, RD, MS, it might be time to think about the food you’re eating in a given day.
You’ll have to consider your whole diet if you want to stay energized throughout the week. (Coffee isn’t the only way to get a pep in your step.) Watch the video above with Beckerman and read below for a better understanding of how eating for energy works to help your body and mind.
The golden rules of eating for energy, according to a registered dietitian
1. Eat foods with a low-glycemic index
“Low-glycemic foods equals no super-quick rise in blood sugar which equals no crash—therefore, consistent energy levels,” says Beckerman. “Look for foods with low-glycemic high fiber such as whole grains, high-fiber veggies like broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots, plus nuts and heart-healthy oils.”
Brown rice and other complex carbs like quinoa, beans, farro, and oats are a great source of energy. “Brown rice has high fiber content and low-glycemic-index and will help to regulate blood sugar levels keeping your energy levels consistent throughout the day,” says Beckerman.
There’s sugar in everything (really):
2. Drink water throughout the day
“Our bodies are 70 percent water,” says Beckerman. “If we are dehydrated or low on water intake, you will feel sluggish and parched. It has been proven that water consumption is essential to keep the human body running and lack of adequate water can leave you feeling fatigued and hungry. So next time you’re feeling like you need a nap, try drinking a glass of water first.”
3. Don’t skip breakfast
“Eating breakfast will wake up your metabolism,” says Beckerman. “Breakfast high in protein, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fat will help you feel fuller longer, stay energized throughout the day, and prevent you from craving sugary foods. Eat small frequent meals as often as you are hungry. Studies have shown that eating larger meals especially at lunch can lead to an afternoon slump.”
Eggs, Greek yogurt, and bananas make great energy-boosting additions to your breakfast, says Beckerman. Eggs are full of protein, which provides a steady source of energy by not causing spikes in blood sugar and insulin. “Greek yogurt has three times the amount of protein than regular yogurt, meaning it will keep you fuller longer. And bananas are a great source of high-quality carbs, potassium, and B6—all-natural energy boosters.
Eggs are nature’s multivitamin:
4. Limit your alcohol intake
“Alcohol is a depressant, which slows down brain activity that can cause drowsiness the day after happy hour hits,” says Beckerman.
5. Drink caffeine sparingly
“Drink caffeine as needed but sparingly,” says Beckerman. “Look, I’m not saying to put the coffee down entirely, but if you consume too much caffeine, you can become immune to its stimulating effects.” She says to try swapping your morning coffee for a cup of green tea or matcha every now and then. “Green tea releases caffeine more steadily throughout the day leaving you less jittery and preventing a coffee deprivation crash.”
What do you really know about that cup of coffee? Get the facts here: