Sunday, September 28, 2008

Pick me up

Let's face it, we are all busy! Whether you're working 40+ hours a week, taking care of the kids, or going to school/studying like crazy, this busyness causes many of us to put some vital health habits to the wayside. In the end, someone's keeping score and it's our body, taking another hit. I'm writing on this particular topic because someone recently asked me for some suggestions on how to get a quick energy pick-me up during the day. So, I thought I'd write my blog providing some reminders and quick tips on how to maximize energy levels.

The first bit of advice that I think is one cornerstone to optimal energy levels is SLEEP! Sleep is a vital component to optimal health. When we get enough sleep, we are able to feel more rested and energized the following day. Sleep also allows our brains to process the thoughts for the day helping us learn and form memories. Just how much depends on who you are. According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) most adults need between 7-8 hours of sleep a night. As for the kiddos, newborns need a whopping 16-18 hours/day, preschoolers between 10-12 hours/day, and school-aged kids at least 9 hours/day.

Consuming a nutritious and well-rounded breakfast can also be a proactive step toward more daily energy. Breakfast does just what it says, it 'breaks the fast' that we've experienced over night. When we wake up in the morning after not having eaten for several hours, our body's energy reserves are lower. Therefore, breakfast can set the tone for your energy levels throughout the day. Be sure to incorporate a good source of carbohydrate (i.e., whole grains or fruits are excellent), protein (i.e., low-fat yogurt, milk, natural peanut butter or nuts), and fat (i.e., avocado or nuts). By consuming a balanced breakfast that incorporates all three major nutrients, energy will be released to the body more steadily, therefore, maintaining more stable throughout the morning and keeping hunger at bay for longer.

Eating several small, frequent meals and snacks throughout the day also helps people stay on top of their energy needs. I usually recommend eating a small meal or snack every 3-4 hours upon waking. Including a good source of carbohydrate, such as whole grains, vegetables, fruits, or dry beans, provides an important fuel source for the body; however, it's also important to include a good source of protein and/or fat at each meal and snack for the same reasons as mentioned earlier.

Keep portion sizes in check. Sometimes when we're tired, we have the tendency to overeat and this can actually be an energy drain.

Drink up...water, that is! Even mild dehydration (losing 1-2% of body weight from dehydration) can result in weakness and fatigue. When we are dehydrated, even mildly, our bodies have to work a little harder as a result. The recommendation is to drink ~8-12 cups/day.

MOVE! Even short bouts of physical activity in 10-minute increments throughout the day can provide a quick energy boost. So, if you're feeling lethargic, take a break and get moving. You will feel more refreshed and energized!

Well, I hope I've helped you make it a healthier day!


Angie Eats Peace said...[Reply to comment]

I came across your blog via the nest, and I will definitely be following more.
I love this post because it reminds me that a overall healthy lifestyle is the key to energy and vitality.
Sometimes I look for that boost in caffeine, but I know that is not the healthiest route to take.

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