Energy to Spare
By Luigi Gratton, M.D., M.P.H.
Did you know your energy levels don't have to dip just because the sun does? You can have steady and lasting energy throughout the day-even after work.
It's easier than you think, too.
First, what and when you eat greatly affects your energy level. Meals that are too high in refined carbohydrates and lacking in protein may lead to a quick rise in blood sugar, followed by an equally rapid drop that can make you feel less energetic after just an hour or two.
On the other hand, a well-balanced meal with healthy carbohydrates - from fruits, vegetables and whole grains - coupled with a good source of protein (fish, poultry, egg whites, lean meats, nonfat dairy products and protein powders) will not only help to keep blood sugar on a more even keel, but will keep you mentally alert, too.
Skipping meals will leave your energy flagging, too. Since food fuels all activity - both physical and mental - you'll have a hard time functioning if your tank is empty. If you skip a meal, you'll likely be tempted to grab the quickest food available - which is typically less nutritious fare. Plan to keep healthy snacks around - fruits, yogurt and soy nuts for example - and if you lack time for a healthy meal, a meal replacement is a great alternative since it provides quick, convenient and delicious nutrition in minutes.
Your overall fitness is another factor that determines how much energy you have throughout the day. Fitter people utilize energy more efficiently, and therefore have more left over to get them through the afternoon and evening.
Sometimes people complain that they are too tired to exercise - but when your energy is lagging, exercise is a great pick-me-up. And, regular exercise leads to better and more restful sleep, which means more energy the next day. It may sound ironic, but the more you exercise, the more energy you'll have.
With added energy and better fitness, you'll not only accomplish more, but you'll accomplish it more effectively, which leaves you with time to spare. And who couldn't use more of that?
Dr. Gratton also serves as vice-president of medical affairs at Herbalife.