4 Smart Ways to Boost Your Energy With Food
By Tina Haupert
I've always had a healthy appetite. As a kid, I'd clean my plate at every meal—and I was hungry again a couple of hours later. I needed the calories to run around all day long. As an adult, I still eat for energy—but I have to make sure I don't eat so much that I bust the button off of my jeans. Here are four stay-slim ways I keep my energy levels high throughout the day.
I eat as soon as I wake up. I make breakfast within an hour of waking up to jump-start my energy level for the day. And if I exercise in the morning, I need to eat a snack before I workout—I would never be able to get through a workout without fuel in my tank! A typical breakfast is a big bowl of oatmeal with a small scoop of peanut butter, or an egg sandwich on a whole-wheat English muffin and a piece of fruit. I find that whole-grain carbohydrates and protein give me plenty of energy and help keep me full, so I eat less throughout the day.
I eat two smalls snacks every day. I used to try to go all morning without eating until lunch, but it always ended up being a disaster when noon rolled around. I'd either make a bad lunch choice (greasy pizza) or overdo it with my portions (a large Italian sub). I also noticed that my energy levels would plummet around 4 p.m. Now, I snack mid-morning and mid-afternoon on Greek yogurt with Kashi cereal mixed in, or apple slices with a tablespoon of peanut butter. Aside from simply making my life more pleasurable, eating low-calorie snacks keeps my energy (and metabolism!) up all day long.
I go heavy on the veggies. Before I reached my Feel Great Weight, I rarely ate vegetables. I knew that they were healthy for me, but I always saw them as extra credit—a handful of baby carrots or an iceberg salad would suffice. I didn't realize how much fresh veggies would benefit my large appetite until I started to eat more of them. I like to eat, so I usually want to eat a big portion of food, but, of course, I don't want all of the calories. High-volume foods like fruits and veggies are packed with fiber, so they require more chewing and keep me full for hours. Plus, overly processed foods always seem to slow me down. If I eat a big plate of nachos or a couple of slices of pizza, I usually feel sluggish for the rest of the afternoon.
I eat what makes me happy (within moderation). I love sweets, but I don't eat them every day. Instead, I allow myself one guilt-free treat every Friday. So how does a giant bakery cookie or a shared plate of nachos boost my energy? When I'd tried losing weight in the past, I'd forgo treats completely—and ultimately I'd feel both physically and mentally worn down from all the willpower that required. Anyone who has ever been on a restrictive diet knows that feeling! Eventually I'd cave and binge on all sorts of bad food. Healthy eating makes me feel so much happier and energized when I know I can regularly splurge.