With the “fall back” time change and colder weather upon us, you might find yourself reaching for an extra cup of coffee this Monday morning. I think back to the days when I would wake up for high school before 6am so I could do a little extra studying and was out the door by 7. Who was that non-coffee drinking early morning person?!
What’s my strategy for getting through these shorter-lit, colder days when you are lacking the energy of a busy 16 year old? It’s all the FOOD we eat.
Eat often. Eating every 3 to 4 hours can help to fuel a healthy metabolism, maintain muscle mass and promote a feeling of fullness between meals. More frequent meals means that your metabolism will stay revved up throughout the day and your blood sugar levels will stay steady (assuming you are eating the “right” foods, read on to learn more).
Don’t skimp on snacking. Snacks should have protein and fiber-rich carbohydrates to provide lasting energy. My favorites include cottage cheese, apples and peanut butter, a handful of almonds or walnuts, carrots dipped in hummus, string cheese, or Greek yogurt topped with fruit.
Remove energy zappers. Skip the soda, sugary coffee and energy drinks. These foods may leave you buzzing for an hour, but will likely cause an energy crash. Quench your thirst with water, fat-free or low-fat milk, low-calorie flavored water or unsweetened tea. Now I’m not saying caffeine is off-limits. 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.
Eat Breakfast! If you only remember one of these tips, this is THE one I want you to remember (and practice). Studies show that people who eat breakfast every morning have sustained energy throughout the day. The best breakfast is one that doesn’t take long to make and includes a mix of protein, carbohydrate and fat. I’ve been using this tip sheet as of late for my go-to breakfast ideas!
Foods to Choose
- Whole Grains [aka the healthy, fiber-filled carbohydrates] like whole-wheat bread, brown rice, and cereal are grain options that keep your blood sugar and energy levels stable.
- Cashews and Almonds are rich in protein and magnesium, a mineral that plays a key role in converting sugar into energy.
- Lean meats such as pork, beef, and chicken, contain vitamin B-12, which may help ease insomnia and depression.
- Fatty fish, such as salmon, is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which may protect against depression and be good for heart health. Besides fish, sources of omega-3 include nuts and leafy, dark green vegetables.
- Leafy green vegetables (such as spinach and romaine lettuce) contain folate, a nutrient that may lower the risk of depression.
- And lastly, staying hydrated by drinking plenty of water can help you avoid getting tired. Some studies suggest even mild dehydration can slow your metabolism and sap your energy.
Feeling ready to take on this Monday now? Me too! Just let me grab my cup of coffee…