Food for Fuel
By Luigi Gratton, M.D., M.P.H.
Your body is a complex machine that requires the right combination of fuel to keep it running at peak efficiency. It obtains this energy from the foods you eat. However, what you eat plays an extremely important role when it comes to supporting optimum energy levels.
Sugar Causes Energy Peaks and Troughs
Many people are unaware that unhealthy food choices contribute to their lack of energy, with sugar consumption the main culprit. Americans consume over 150 pounds of sugar yearly in candy and soft drinks. A large sugar load initially provides a quick energy boost, which is followed by a rapid decline. This is the reason so many Americans feel sleepy after lunch. Processed sugars such as pastas, rice, breads and chips cause these peaks and troughs in people's energy levels. The remedy to this situation is a healthy diet high in fruits and vegetables, lean protein, and ample hydration.
Hydration in the human body is paramount to our health and our energy level is greatly impacted by the amount of water that we drink. Even a 5% drop in body fluids will cause a 25-30% loss of energy in most people. Eight glasses of water daily, which is approximately 2 liters, is a healthy amount of hydration. Proper hydration maintains healthy bodily function and prevents fatigue.
In addition to water, our bodies also need high-energy foods to perform our daily routines. All food is broken down into three major macronutrients: Carbohydrates, Fats, and Proteins. Certain Carbohydrates can be a good source of energy, while others can cause imbalances in blood sugar. Whole-grains such as whole-wheat bread or brown rice help to even out blood sugar levels. Other carbs, such as candy bars, sodas, chips and cookies are simple sugars which cause the peaks and troughs. There are also different kinds of fats. Flax seed oil, fish oil, olive oil, as well as the natural oils founds in seeds and nuts, are healthy for the body and help to increase your energy. All trans fats are undesirable, so be sure to read food labels for the amount of these fats in any food. Protein is the third macronutrient which is essential to energy production. The best sources of protein come from lean meats, fish, white meat of chicken, and healthy soy protein. Avoid protein from fast foods, as it lacks nutritional value and is often processed meat. Also remember to stay away from fatty cuts of meat. Look for lean cuts marked "loin" like "tenderloin" or "sirloin."
Another great way to increase your energy is by drinking a healthy, nutritious protein shake. For example, Herbalife® Formula 1 Nutritional Shake Mix provide the ideal balance of protein, carbohydrates and vitamins that are important for maintaining energy levels throughout the day.
Our bodies require high-energy foods to perform our daily routines and to maintain a level of consistent energy. Additionally, it's important to avoid sugar, which causes the energy "peaks and troughs." Remember, the combination of good nutrition, drinking plenty of water and avoiding high-sugar foods, will help you achieve the energy to fuel your day.
Dr. Gratton also serves as Vice President of Medical Affairs and Education at Herbalife.