Do you struggle to find energy at various times throughout the day?
Are you getting enough sleep, but still experiencing that mid-day slump? Or finding it hard to get going in the morning? I often hear clients share concerns like these and we evaluate different nutritional influences on energy levels throughout the day.
I would like to share with you information on how your meals and snacks can affect energy levels and tips to fuel your body to feel energized all day long!
Blood sugar is a term people often only associate with diabetes. However, blood sugar simply refers to the amount of glucose (or sugar/energy) that is in our bloodstream at any given time. Energy comes from glucose going into a cell to make sure the cell has energy to do its job.
If the body has too much glucose in the blood, the body will respond by releasing a lot of insulin (a hormone needed for glucose to be able to get into a cell) to allow the glucose to be taken up into the cells or stored. In other words, excess glucose will get turned into glycogen (the storage form of glucose) or fat. This overproduction of insulin will consequently result in low blood sugar, leaving too little sugar for energy. This often is the lethargic feeling experienced after eating a large meal, especially high in refined carbohydrates and added sugar.
On the other hand, if the body has too little glucose in the blood, the body has to pull from its stores of glycogen and fat and convert these to glucose to be released into the blood. However, this is a long process and will not result in your body feeling energized.
Think of your body like a car – you have to put gas in a car to make it go. It is the same with your body – you have to put fuel in to sustain your body. It is also important to think about what kinds of foods you are putting into your body for fuel. The better the fuel you put into your body, the better your body will function and the better you will feel.
Here are some ways to better fuel your body for sustained energy all day long:
- Small, frequent meals. Smaller, more frequent meals help to provide your body with fuel all day long. What happens with infrequent large meals is that the blood sugar spikes after such a large meal and may crash shortly after depending on the content and balance of your meal, leaving you feeling tired. Therefore, fueling your body in proper, balanced amounts throughout the day is the best way to ensure you will have energy all day. Aim for a small meal or snack, rich in vegetables and balanced with whole grains, lean proteins and healthy fats about every 3-4 hours.
- Increase dietary fiber intake. Whole grains, beans, legumes, fruits and vegetables are good sources of fiber and help regulate blood sugar because fiber takes the body longer to break down. This means that the energy from your food will be released in smaller amounts over a longer period of time, leaving you with stable blood sugar levels and sustained energy!
- Limit added sugar. Eating a lot of unnecessary refined and added sugar can have the roller coaster effect of a rapid rise and drop in your blood sugar. Because the sugar is already processed, the body absorbs it very quickly, causing a spike in your blood sugar. This may be followed by a crash in blood sugar and fatigue. Beware of “hidden” added sugar in processed foods such as pasta sauce, soup and nut butters. Always check ingredients!
- Increase your physical activity level and HYDRATE. Regular physical activity helps stabilize blood sugar and controls stress levels and weight. Stay ahead of your hydration and drink water throughout the day (goal: 1/2-1 oz per pound of body weight per day).