Take Charge of your Energy
Follow these tips to avoid the most common energy drains that are constantly slowing your day. You can take charge of your energy levels and moods by making smarter choices throughout the day with what you eat and drink.
Personally, I finally took charge of my energy and said goodbye to the energy and mood-swings related to eating and low-blood sugar levels, when I began intermittent fasting early last year.
While the first two iterations of fasting were difficult, ever since then, I have not had to deal with the highs and lows of energy and moods. The next change that has basically removed binge-eating and cravings, and with it the energy roller-coaster it caused, has been when I incorporated the keto way of eating (WOE) into my life. Keto, which simply put is low carb/high fat eating, is not for everyone, but I believe that anyone can incorporate intermittent fasting with some noticeable benefits. Look for my upcoming post on why I am following a Keto WOE right now.
Whether or not you're ready to give keto or intermittent fasting a try, here are some smarter choices you can make right now that will help level out your days and fight off those mood swings.
Caffeine. While caffeine in moderate amounts may be beneficial to decrease fatigue and improve memory, but too much can upset your sleep cycle and cause disruption in your adrenal regulation, thus leading to more restlessness and exhaustion.
Processed foods. Yet another reason to eat whole foods is the fact that refined carbohydrates cause inflammation in our bodies, which ultimately cause increased fatigue.
Sugar. Too much sugar in our system and our bodies are no longer able to regulate blood sugar, leading yet again to increased inflammation, which can, you guessed it, cause fatigue.
Dehydration can lead to not only low energy levels, but also to changes in mood, increased anxiety, and lack of focus.
Recommendations are to drink at least 8 ounces of water per day. When you become dehydrated, your body begins to crave sodium, which we then satiate with salty snacks. Keep drinking water, and avoid the cravings. Check out my post on boosting your hydration here.
Here are some common triggers throughout the day and some alternate choices to help avoid the common pitfalls.
Morning: We often wake up hungry and tired. How you start your day can set you up for success or failure. It's always a good idea to start each day with water. I like to take my morning pre-breakfast vitamins/supplements with a large glass of lemon water while my coffee is brewing.
Adding coconut oil to your coffee is a great way to get medium-chain fatty acids that will go to your liver and convert to energy.
Starting with a breakfast of protein, healthy fats, and high fiber will set you up for a great morning. My go-to breakfast is eggs and avocado. Sometimes, I will add in a bell pepper, spinach, or asparagus, and of course bacon (if you're keto). When not following low carb, I would rotate with a veggie-rich yogurt smoothie, or a bowl of oatmeal with yogurt or almond milk. The protein is going to help bring your blood-glucose to a good level without the quick spike and fall that a high-carbohydrate and/or sugar-filled breakfast would give you.
Mid-morning: In an effort to keep your blood-glucose levels consistent, and avoid the spike and fall, choose something with protein, fiber, and fat. My favorite snacks are pork rinds for a keto WOE, but a handful of nuts, or veggies and hummus, and pickled green beans and mozzarella string cheese are all great. These will not only keep you full, but keep you even-keeled.
Afternoon: The first step in setting yourself up for success and avoiding the afternoon slump is to choose a proper lunch. Ensuring that you choose a lunch, again with protein and fiber to keep you both satiated and your blood-glucose levels stable. You can choose a salad, just be sure to add some lean protein, like salmon or tuna as well as avocado for a nice boost of fiber!
Mid-Afternoon: To carry you successfully through the late afternoon, you want to choose your snack wisely. Stay away from the energy drink or cookies, that will eventually lead to increased cortisol levels and storing fat in our midsection. Instead, grab some yogurt and nuts, or string cheese, pickles, and kombucha. The probiotics in the yogurt and the kombucha will help keep healthy gut bacteria in your system and aid in digestion and keeping your energy levels even.
Evening: Although I work from home, I am a parent, so I still know the desire for a nice stiff drink at the end of the day. The early evening is when our body is starting to wind down and both cortisol and adrenaline levels are declining to prepare you for sleep. We often come home, grab a cocktail, eat some salty carbohydrate-filled snacks to "tide us over" until dinner.
First smarter choice we should make upon coming home is to enjoy a large glass of water. This will keep you on schedule with staying hydrated, which you already know is crucial. This may also be the step that keeps you satiated until dinner so that you can avoid the additional noshing.
I'm never going to tell you give up your cocktail, but maybe a few nights a week, you could sub it out with a mocktail; mix some lime juice and mint with a sparkling water. If you're following a keto WOE, you could enjoy a low carb cocktail. You can try tequila, stevia drops, lime essential oil, and lime sparkling water. This is my go-to when nothing but alcohol will do.
If, after your drinks, you still do need some food to get you to dinner time, some smart choices would be nuts or some cucumber slices dipped in guacamole.
Late-night: Most of us have spent years grabbing a nice pint of ice cream and or a glass of wine after dinner to continue to "wind-down". This will amp up the blood sugar and could affect your cortisol levels. When you feel the late-night cravings kick in, take a moment and determine what's causing it. Are you truly hungry, or are you simply dealing with some emotions? If you are truly hungry, make one more smart decision and pick something full of protein. String cheese, cottage cheese, or some nuts are good choices, as the protein can help boost metabolism while you are sleeping.
If you can take a step back and realize that it is not hunger-related, try doing something that will fill that void or help you work through it. Matt got me a 5-minute journal, which is the perfect pre-bedtime routine, but talking with a friend, or a short meditation, or reading the Bible are a few good ways to wind down before bed. I also like a cup of tea with calcium and magnesium mixed in. This combination helps to calm me down and prepare my body for a night's good rest.
Which tips are you going to begin to implement to take charge of your energy?
Let me know how I can help to keep you on track!