My must-haves to optimize energy
We are on the back end of the winter season. The days are getting longer; however, you may feel the need optimize your energy as we enjoy the last part of winter. Plus, more than ever, people are looking for natural ways to increase energy while managing stress and anxiety. Let’s explore my must-haves to optimize energy.
Foods and timing to optimize energy
- Have a dietary plan that is personalized to you and your health needs.
- Choose nutrient dense foods, add protein early in the day, stay hydrated and don’t over caffeinate.
Choose nutrient dense foods
Not to be confused with energy density, nutrient density refers to foods contain a higher level of vitamins, minerals, and other important nutrients with little or no added sugars or fats that raise calories. Examples include nuts and seeds. Whereas energy dense foods contain a higher number of calories per serving such as candy, as a result are not always made up of positive nutrients. An example of nutrient dense foods is eating a handful a trail mix with nuts, seeds, dark chocolate and dried fruit. This nutrient dense combo will sustain your energy.
Eat protein foods early in the day
Not only does eating protein foods like meat, fish, plain Greek yogurt, eggs, nuts and seeds early in the day optimize your energy, it keeps your metabolism revved. Are you thinking, “How does my bagel or the bowl of sugar-sweetened cereal give me the protein to start my day?” Well alone, it doesn’t. Be sure to add protein foods to those carbohydrates to start your day feeling energized.
Hydration is important year-round. Why is hydration so vital? The human body contains about 60% water. And the more muscular and younger you are, the more water your body contains. The brain, lungs, heart, liver, and kidneys all contain water, about 65-85%, and the bones contain about 31%! The body also requires water to flush toxins out of critical organs and carry nutrients to the cells. Without enough water (fluids) your body won’t function properly, and it can be dangerous.
Plus, did you know being dehydrated can leave you feeling tired, confused, and cranky? The Institute of Medicine determined that an adequate intake (AI) for men is roughly 3 liters (about 13 cups) of total beverages a day. The AI for women is 2.2 liters (about 9 cups) of total beverages a day.
Foods and beverages that optimize energy
You want to eat foods and beverages without the shock of too much caffeine or a ton of sugar for sustained energy. Here are two of my favourites to optimize energy:
There are so many types of citrus fruits from blood oranges to clementines. Just the smell of fresh grapefruit on a winter morning makes me feel more awake! Citrus fruits are rich in vitamin C, which offers your body immune-building energy. One of the first signs of vitamin C deficiency is fatigue. Eating is about enjoying the colour, aroma, and taste of the food, and citrus fruits have it all. I love adding lemon slices to water for a refreshing zing and staying hydrated is also an important part of maintaining energy levels throughout the day.
Green Tea – Specifically matcha
I like to use caffeine to my advantage, and I find matcha gives me a sustained alertness without any jitters. Matcha is the whole Tencha leaves ground into a powder. It boasts more health benefits and less caffeine than regular green tea. This shade grown tea, rich in theanine (an amino acid) and catechin (an antioxidant), helps the body stay energized and the mind stay alert. I drink it alone and make lattes with it, too. I like to use my ceremonial bamboo whisk when I make lattes for an extended experience! Remember: To get the delicious taste of matcha, don’t use boiling water. I find the best flavour is at 80°C (175°F). I boil the water and then let it stand for a few minutes until it cools down a little.
Fitness plan to optimize energy
- Aim for 20 minutes of activity daily.
- Develop a fitness plan that you like and is easily accomplished within your daily routine.
People who live a sedentary lifestyle are often at a high risk of chronic diseases associated with sedentary behavior. Conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease are common lifestyle afflictions that can be reduce with healthy daily habits including exercising. Regular physical activity can improve muscle strength, help maintain a healthy weight and boost your energy and endurance.
Exercise delivers oxygen and nutrients to your tissues and helps your cardiovascular system work more efficiently. And when your heart and lung health improve, you have more energy to tackle and enjoy your daily activities.
Restful sleep to optimize energy
- Aim for 7.5 hours of restful sleep daily.
- Develop a relaxing routine before going to bed at the same time each night.
If we get less than 7.5 hours, then it has negative influences on both our mind and body. Just like a healthy diet and regular exercise, a good night’s sleep is essential for optimum health and to support the body’s energy and defenses against infection and chronic illnesses including covid-19. Also, not getting enough sleep can cause a decrease in the appetite-suppressing hormone leptin and can increase the appetite-stimulating hormone ghrelin. This is not good news! As this change can make us crave high sugar, salty and starchy foods leading to overconsumption. Aim for 7.5 hours of restful sleep daily to optimize energy and decrease stress.
Final thoughts for my must-haves to optimize energy
Having the energy to deal with life is important now more than ever! A spotlight has been shone on our mind-body since the pandemic. Food, fitness and sleep are vital in maintaining and optimizing our energy. They all work together in your routine – eating well and staying active can help your body get restful sleep every night to optimize your energy.