Stay Fit Archive

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If you are like most people your day does not end when the bell tolls the end of your work day. Chances are when you get home your second work day starts or in some cases, your second job. At this point many of us are feeling more like a nap than another job. That quick hamburger and soda has long since deserted us. Fatigue has caught up with us, grabbed us by the coattail and will not let go. What to do?

Never fear, I am here with a few very good pointers for kicking fatigue to the curb. Reach out for energy food. “Oh boy, a candy bar”, you say. “No, no, no,” I cry. For a nearly instant energy boost that lasts, eat a healthy snack containing protein and a complex carbohydrate like a whole-grain cracker with low-fat cheese or a peanut butter sandwich on whole-wheat bread. The combination of protein and a complex carbohydrate (digested more slowly than simple carbs) increases your blood glucose in a sustained way. It boosts energy longer than if you eat that candy bar and it is just as yummy.

Balanced meals and snacks help provide sustained energy to keep you going. Proteins, carbs and fats are digested at different rates, so meals that have a balance of these nutrients will give you more staying power than those that don’t. Your protein shake with fruit keeps you going because you get some quick energy from the fruit and long lasting energy from the protein powder and milk. On the other hand, if you eat an all-carb breakfast (like toast, jam and fruit) everything will get digested at pretty much the same rate – and pretty quickly too. Without some protein to keep you going, you’ll find your energy dipping in no time.

A morning or afternoon snack keeps blood sugar from spiking and dipping. Eat small meals and snacks every three to four hours, rather than a few large meals. Some options: peanut butter on whole-grain crackers, half a turkey sandwich with salad, or whole-grain cereal with milk. Also, a high-protein snack just before bedtime to keep your blood-sugar levels from crashing while you sleep is a good idea. Erratic blood sugar levels may wake you up. A good night’s rest is key to keeping your energy level up throughout the day.

Carbs may be the foe of fad diets, but they’re vital for boosting energy and mood. They are the body’s preferred source of fuel, plus they raise levels of the feel-good chemical, serotonin. The key is to avoid sweets, which cause blood sugar to spike and plummet, making you feel tired and moody. Instead, pick whole grains like whole-wheat bread, brown rice, and cereal. Your body absorbs whole grains more slowly, keeping your blood sugar and energy levels stable.

Try these healthy high energy snacks:
Granola with nuts and dried fruit mixed with yogurt
Apple slices with cheddar cheese
Whole-grain crackers and hummus
Tuna fish on a whole wheat cracker
Whole wheat bagel with nut butter and a banana

The all important first meal of the day – breakfast. Never skip it.
If you do your energy will most certainly skip out on you.

We have been hearing for the past eons that breakfast is the most important meal of the day; and the general consensus among the experts still supports this statement. So, of course, I say that breakfast is key to keeping a high energy level throughout the day.

What comprises a high energy breakfast? For short-term and long-term energy boosts, make a habit of eating a high-fiber, carbohydrate-rich breakfast. To boost the fiber and carbs in your first meal of the day, select foods like whole-wheat toast or high-fiber cereal. A half cup of high-fiber cereal can contain as much as 14 grams of fiber, and some high-fiber breads have 6 grams per slice. Aim for 25 to 30 grams of total fiber daily. The best breakfasts deliver plenty of fiber and nutrients through whole-grain carbs, good fats, and some type of lean protein. And of course, they taste good!

Coffee is one of the world’s most popular pick-me-ups, and it works — at least in the short-term. Caffeine steps up the body’s metabolism, temporarily improving mental focus and energy. Frequent mini-servings will keep you alert and focused longer than one large dose. Just beware of drinking so much coffee that you can’t sleep at night — losing sleep won’t help your energy!

You can also get caffeine from tea. Studies show that it may improve alertness, reaction time, and memory. And having a cup of tea is a time-honored tradition, which may take the edge off your stress. Although the same caveats apply to tea as apply to coffee.

Another way to stay hydrated and energized is to eat fresh fruits and vegetables, which are naturally full of water. Snack on apple wedges or celery, for example. Other hydrating foods include oatmeal and pasta, which sop up their cooking water. It is especially important to include these hydrating foods in your diet if you consume larger amounts of coffee and tea, because of the diuretic effect of those beverages.

Although, as I have said, tea, coffee and caffeine will boost your energy when consumed as advised, you’re better off grabbing fruit, nuts, or beans. These foods boost energy more effectively because they contain vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that combat inflammation, support your immune system, and help you recover faster from exercise.

Just a little FYI here because I am the world’s number one fan of dark chocolate: A little bit of dark chocolate can boost your energy and mood. That’s because of the caffeine in chocolate, along with another stimulant called theobromine. Just say’in.

For all-day energy eat enough of what you need at every meal and include foods which contain the following:

PROTEIN (soy, lean meats, nuts) helps regulate the release of energy throughout the day. “Protein takes a long time to turn into glucose, providing a steady release of energy into your body. Lean pork, lean beef, skinless chicken, and turkey are sources of protein that include the amino acid tyrosine. Tyrosine boosts levels of two brain chemicals (dopamine and norepinephrine) that can help you feel more alert and focused. Meats also contain vitamin B-12, which may help ease insomnia and depression.

COMPLEX CARBOHYDRATES that are high in fiber (like oats, brown rice, and other whole grains) are absorbed more slowly and sustain you for longer periods. They also help keep blood sugar levels stable, evening out energy highs and lows, and preventing you from overeating later in the day.

“GOOD” FATS (cold-water fish, olive oil, eggs) are concentrated sources of energy. Also, the monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA) in nut butters help curb your appetite so you don’t overeat, which helps keep you from feeling weighed down.

Fatigue is your enemy. Fight it with a healthy energy boosting lifestyle. If you plan to incorporate exercise into your already too busy life or if you are already on an exercise routine, you must eat healthy and eat to promote energy.

Excerpt: Modern life is full for many of us: the career, the camera-ready living room, and the book club meetings. Not to mention all of the family related activities. While there may be numerous rewards, it still leaves you vulnerable to fatigue, a health hazard that can go unseen until it has taken hold. Take lack of sleep, for example: Most adults need seven to nine hours every night. But we’re masters at convincing ourselves that we can get by with less. We don’t adapt to less sleep, we just think we do. Fatigue is the first sign of aging. Your system becomes more inefficient.

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