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January 16, 2019 2 min read

By Ana Reisdorf, MS, RD

It’s 2:30 pm and you cannot keep your eyes open at your desk. You have to finish a big project, but your brain has turned to mush. You are tempted to hit the vending machine for a sugar-laden boost or gulp down a big cup of coffee so you can make it through the afternoon. But what if you could naturally increase your energy without relying on sweets or caffeine? Here are a few small diet changes that can help you get off the energy roller coaster. 

Stabilize Your Blood Sugar

The secret to maintaining energy levels throughout the day has to do with keeping your blood sugar stable. High blood sugar, which makes you feel energized, is inevitably followed by low blood sugar, making you feel exhausted. The key to stable energy is to eat in a way that doesn’t spike blood sugar.

If you want to get off the sugar roller coaster, take a look at the macronutrient composition of your meals. Every meal should include a source of protein, which helps slow the rush of carbohydrates (sugar) into the bloodstream. You should also include a source of fat, which helps increase satisfaction and helps you stay fuller, longer. Finally, round out it out with a high-fiber carbohydrate, such as a whole grain, fruit or vegetable. Fiber takes longer to digest, preventing blood sugar spikes. Planning meals that are balanced in macronutrients prevents energy fluctuations throughout the day.

Include Energy Boosters

There are also several foods that can help boost your energy, keeping you well-fueled. A few favorites include:

  • Eggs: High in protein, fat and energy-boosting B-vitamins, eggs help stabilize blood sugar, keep you full and give your body the nutrients it needs to use energy from food.
  • Beans: Beans are high in protein, fiber, and several energy-boosting nutrients, such as iron and potassium. The carbohydrates in beans are digested slowly, providing sustained energy.
  • Almonds: These little nuts have a bit of all three macronutrients: protein, carbs and fat, as well as a dose of fiber. They are also high in B vitamins and magnesium, needed for energy metabolism.

Remove Energy Zappers

There are plenty of foods that zap our energy, making our blood sugar go crazy. These include anything with added sugar or refined carbohydrates, such as doughnuts, cakes, cookies and pies, as well as sugar-sweetened beverages and coffee drinks. Yes, these are fine as an occasional treat, but you may find yourself hungry and exhausted on the days you choose to start your day with a doughnut instead of a couple of eggs. Also, avoid other refined carbohydrates, like white bread, rice or pasta, which can also increase blood sugar.

Eating for Energy

In order to optimize your diet to improve your energy levels, include energy-boosting foods as often as possible and limit those that zap your energy. Also, eat balanced meals and snacks that include each of the three macronutrients (proteins, carbs and fats) to keep your blood sugar stable. A great way to ensure stable energy throughout the day is to always eat a high-protein breakfast. A balanced breakfast helps reduce blood sugar fluctuations throughout the day, helping you stay energized.

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