Looking for natural ways to feel more awake during work hours? If you find yourself feeling sluggish, tired or drained when what you really need is to stay focused, alert and energized, consider the following nutritional tips. Not only can the foods you eat cause your energy levels to drop but eating the right foods can elevate your mood and give you the strength and endurance you need to get through the most grueling of shifts and the longest workdays.
Here are some expert food tips to kick-start your day and help stay at the top of your game:
- Drink Plenty of Water: Drink at least 1-2 liters (8-9 cups of water) or more daily since insufficient water reduces oxygen circulation to the muscles, making you feel tired and lethargic. Purified, spring or distilled water offer healthier choices than tap water.
- Eat Energy-Producing Foods: A regular diet of the following foods will fill you up more quickly and give you longer-lasting energy: complex carbohydrates (i.e. fruits and vegetables, whole grains (i.e. quinoa, brown rice), leaner proteins (i.e. fish, beans/legumes, nuts)
- Eat a Good Breakfast: Jumpstart your day and keep your energy levels steady by eating a
breakfast consisting of lean proteins and complex carbs. Skipping breakfast will only cause you to eat a larger meal later in the day, which in turn will make your energy levels drop. Consider eating salad greens with eggs for a healthy balance or adding raw kale into a fruit and protein packed breakfast smoothie.
- Avoid High-Fat, High-Sugar Foods: High-fat, sugary foods will give you a short burst of energy, however they will ultimately leave you feeling tired and lethargic (and may cause heartburn and indigestion)
- Zero carb, zero calorie stevia is the healthiest natural sweetener available. Grown and used as a sweetener in South America for hundreds of years.
- B-Complex Supplement: Chronic fatigue may be a symptom of being low in B-complex vitamins; a B-complex supplement will help your body actually make energy
- Maca Root is rich in B vitamins, high in energy and non-caffeinated. Increases brain and memory power and balances your mood.
- Magnesium: Whether you take a magnesium supplement or boost your magnesium levels naturally by eating more fish, whole grains, almonds, cashews and hazelnuts, your body needs magnesium to break glucose down into energy
- Omega-3: Omega-3 fats are known to keeping your brain cells healthy, helping you feel more energized and mentally alert; examples of foods rich in omega-3 are fish, nuts, and flax seed, canola oil, olive oil, and cod liver oil
- Vitamin C: Since Vitamin C helps the body turn fat into energy, be sure your diet includes enough Vitamin C-rich foods (i.e. bell peppers, leafy greens, tomatoes, oranges, and broccoli) or take a Vitamin C supplement
- Coffee/Tea: Using caffeine healthfully and strategically – i.e. drinking green tea or coffee early in the day so that it does not interfere with going to sleep at night – boosts alertness and increases work capacity; however avoid sodas, diet sodas, and coffees sweetened artificially
- Avoid Energy Drinks: While most energy drinks deliver what they promise – a quick burst of energy – do not depend on energy drinks to keep you alert since your energy levels will quickly come crashing down afterwards, leaving you feeling lethargic and craving another energy drink
- Dark Chocolate: If you need a rush of endorphins and an energy boost, snacking on dark chocolate will give you enough caffeine to keep you going in the wee hours of your shift
- Chia Seeds: Ever since the days of the ancient Aztecs and Mayans, chia seeds have been known to increase strength and endurance; to boost your energy levels at work, add chia seeds to your favorite recipes or snacks
- Food Intolerances: If you find yourself feeling sluggish after eating particular foods, you may in fact have food intolerance, causing your energy levels to drop, headaches, and stomach issues. Consider taking a break from dairy or gluten products for 3-6 weeks and see what you notice.
- Iron: Iron helps carry oxygen to all parts of the body, thereby boosting energy levels; be sure your diet includes enough iron-rich foods such as beans or red meats, or take an iron supplement
- Maintain a Healthy Weight: Being overweight puts an extra strain on your body, which can cause you to feel drained and less energetic; follow a healthy weight-loss program to feel better and boost performance
- Avoid Eating Big Meals Before Work: After eating a big meal, your body has to work harder to digest more food at once, using up a lot of your energy and causing you to feel tired; by eating four to six smaller meals, you can sustain your energy levels throughout the day
- Have Your Thyroid Checked: If you suffer from chronic fatigue and have not succeeded at boosting your energy levels naturally, you many suffer from hypothyroidism or a thyroid condition, slowing down your metabolism and draining your energy; have a doctor test your thyroid and learn ways to treat this condition with or without drugs.
- Have healthy snacks near your desk for grab and go energy i.e. fruit, water, energy bars, seeds, nuts.
By following these simple and healthy eating tips, you can look forward to feeling great and staying alert on the job and in your daily life.
Karen Burke is the President and Founder of Kare Products. Karen has over 30 years of expertise creating ergonomic furniture that helps avoid injury and promotes health for all types of discomfort and body sizes.