Eating for Energy
Contributors to lack of energy:
l Dehydration. People often don’t realize that they don’t drink enough water. Headaches and fatigue often signal dehydration. Get enough water by drinking a full glass at every meal, and one every time you go to the bathroom.
l Anemia. Getting enough iron is tricky, as getting too much is just as bad as not enough. Some research has indicated that excessive iron intake is linked with cardiovascular disease and even cancer. See your doctor to determine whether you have anemia and how to treat it.
l Skipping breakfast. Skipping meals lowers your metabolism. The short explanation for this is that your body goes into starvation mode, which in turn makes your body systems slow down, making you feel sluggish. Eat breakfast even if you’re not hungry. Your body will thank you later.
l Eating a large lunch. Large meals force your body to use precious energy stores for the huge task of digestion. Blood rushes to the stomach, robbing the rest of the body of oxygen and nutrients. Eating smaller, more frequent meals tends to keep your energy level consistent.
l Poor meal composition. It’s vital to get a good balance of all three nutrients—protein, carbohydrates and fat—at each meal. Foods overloaded with any one nutrient will cause problems. Foods high in sugar may cause a rapid increase in blood sugar and a quick burst of energy followed by a drop in energy with a rapid decline of blood sugar. Meals high in protein can lead to fatigue and sleepiness. A good mix of complex carbs, protein and fat ensures slower digestion with an even distribution of blood sugar levels and a constant supply of energy.
l Severe caloric restriction. Energy is derived from calories taken in. Dropping below what your body needs to maintain energy stores will result in fatigue. A good rule of thumb is to maintain 10 times your body weight in calories, (example a 140-pound woman should not fall below 1,400 calories daily).
l Caffeine dependence. Caffeine actually works to inject adrenaline into your system to give you a boost, and works on neurotransmitters in the brain that act as pleasure centers. By consuming drinks containing caffeine throughout the day, you keep your body in a state of emergency. Most experts recommend limiting caffeine consumption to two drinks a day.