How’s your sleep?
It’s a question I ask every client when we first start working on their nutrition goals. It’s a funny one to ask because almost everyone answers it like this ‘Good! I think…well I’m not sure.’ My follow-up question is then ‘Do you wake up feeling rested?’ and 99% of the time the answer is no.
Seven to nine hours of sleep per night is what is recommended for your health. But the important piece that is missing from that statement is how rested you feel upon waking up, and how is your energy throughout the day. In this week’s blog I will tackle the much needed topic of eating for energy.
There are two main pieces to the puzzle when discussing eating for energy. The first is getting our insulin levels in check and the second is eating specific foods to help fight off fatigue and increase our energy. Let’s start with insulin.
Insulin is an anabolic hormone, meaning it likes to build things. And not great things like muscle, rather it likes to build things like belly fat and cancer. Getting our insulin balanced is key to ensure we do not become insulin resistant. If that happens, excess glucose in the blood reduces the ability of our cells to absorb and use blood sugar for energy.
If left untreated, insulin resistance can lead to a host of chronic diseases including Type 2 diabetes, strokes, obesity, chronic heart disease, breast and colon cancer, depression and dementia just to name a few. When we balance our insulin, we avoid blood sugar level highs and crashes, in turn leveling out our energy as well.
Secondly, there are various foods that we should include in our nutrition regimen to help keep our energy on point. Caffeine and naps shouldn’t be what keeps you going. And in fact, shouldn’t be needed at all if you are getting adequate, quality sleep and are eating the right foods.
There are specific foods that are important when talking about eating for energy. Here are my top ten for you to definitely include:
- Whole foods – we want to stick with whole and avoid overly processed foods as these will slow you down with the trans fats, additives, sodium, and preservatives
- Fresh fruit and veggies – so nutrient dense and great for energy overall
- Non-caffeine bevvies – caffeine gives an up and down energy vibe
- Lean proteins or veg-based proteins – added saturated fats in meats slows down the digestive process giving you less energy for other bodily functions
- Whole grains and complex carbs – these will give your body the energy to fulfill all functions – not just physical activity but things like your heart pumping and brain working
- Nuts and seeds – best thing for fatigue! Variety is key and raw and unsalted is best
- Water – this helps facilitate the energetic processes of the body in turn boosting energy
- Bananas – potassium, fiber, and vitamins pack a punch for lots of natural energy boosting needs
- Oats – filling fiber and protein help regulate insulin levels
- Chia seeds – give prolonged energy due to carb content, healthy fats and fiber
It is important to remember that decisions that we make throughout the day affect our health not only short term but long term as well. When we consciously choose foods that are going to positively affect our bodies, create nighttime habits and routines that positively affect our sleep, and choose activity that positively affects our minds and bodies, we will do much better not only today, but for many years to come. There is no quick fix when it comes to your health. Your health is in the daily decisions that you make. Choose wisely.
Interested in learning more? Check out my Nutrition Coaching Programs here!