Five Healthy Ways to Boost Your Energy Level in the New Year
It’s a new year and you are ready to attack those resolutions. Now all you have to do is find the energy to get started. Fatigue is a major problem for people with busy jobs and busy lives and it can be a barrier to starting a fitness routine or other healthy lifestyle changes that require preparation and energy.
As a registered dietitian, one of the most frequent questions I hear from my patients is: “What can I do to boost my energy level so I can be more productive?” There are many reasons that a person may have low energy levels: from bad sleep habits, to poor nutrition, to too much added sugar in your diet.
The good news is that there are simple, natural changes—hint, not energy drinks—that you can take to increase your energy level.
Below are five healthy ways to increase your energy:
- Eat a balanced diet. The same advice for healthy eating also applies to keeping your energy levels high. Always say yes to vegetables, eat fruit daily, and focus on getting whole grains, lean proteins, low-fat dairy, and heart healthy fats—like almonds, avocados, and olive oil—every day. Eating a well-balanced diet also ensures our bodies get the vitamins that are essential for growth and energy.
- Eat small meals throughout the day. If you’re experiencing low-energy, eating small meals and snacks every few hours is better than three large meals a day. Some people feel lethargic after just a few hours without food. Smaller portions can reduce your perception of fatigue because your brain needs a steady supply of nutrients. A piece of fruit or some nuts is sufficient.
- Limit “added sugar” to no more than 10 percent of your diet. Naturally occurring sugar is the sugar found in whole, unprocessed foods, such as milk, fruit, and vegetables. Added sugar is the sugar that is added to processed foods and drinks and provides little to no nutritional value. Skip the sugared beverages, and if you have a sweet tooth, try quelling it with fruit, which provides natural sugar plus fiber and vitamins.
- Stay hydrated. Many of us are dehydrated without even knowing it, and one of the first signs is feeling fatigued. Aim for eight cups per day. To maintain your energy level while working out, drink an eight-ounce glass of water before you start and another after you finish.
- Drink caffeine in moderation. Caffeine is a stimulant and many of us rely on it to get up and function. As long as you’re not excessively drinking coffee, you can get your caffeine fix without harming your health. Just limit the sugar you add and skip the sugar-laden energy drinks. If you don’t drink coffee or caffeinated drinks already, don’t start.
The reality of today is that we’re all busy and dealing with hectic work and family schedules. Help yourself by choosing foods that will give you the energy you need to get through the day. It’s one of the best decisions you can make to start feeling better in 2017. It’s also important to remember that if you’ve tried to make changes but are still feeling extremely fatigued; talk to your doctor to find the root cause.
South Shore Health System's Nutrition program works with people every day to help them make better food choices and meet their health and personal goals.