Woman eating energy boosting salad

It’s happened to the best of us -- the mid-day slump, when we’re in between wanting to do work and actually having enough energy to get our work done.

Energy food

While heading over to your local coffee shop for a quick cup of java may seem like the solution, it actually isn’t. Though snacking on that chocolate bar or gulping that energy drink may give you a short-lived energy boost, it’s just that -- a short-lived sugar-high. So instead of packing on these empty calories, find out how to eat for energy in a more nutritional way.

What you should eat

According to John Bosse, M.S., R.D., C.D., NSCA-CPT, registered dietitian and certified personal trainer specializing in sports nutrition, balanced meals spaced appropriately throughout the day should promote optimal energy levels. He recommends a lean source of protein (chicken breast, fish, lean beef, low/fat-free dairy products), vegetables or fruit and a small amount of less processed grains/seeds or nuts, such as brown rice, whole-wheat bread/pasta, quinoa or sunflower seeds added to each meal.

When eating for energy, complex carbohydrates are your best friends. These complex carbs, found in whole-grain breads and cereals, lentils and legumes are best to fuel your body because they are digested gradually and serve as a steady energy supply for your body and brain.

But don’t forget the fluids -- regular water consumption with these meals and in between is beneficial. Bosse also recommends one to two cups of green tea a day as a natural source of caffeine for an energy boost.

clockWhen to eat

Everyone says breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but why do so many people skip it? Starting off with breakfast is the best way to get your mind and body refueled for the day. After that, aim to eat every three to four hours, and make sure to remain consistent. However, because life does get hectic, consistency is often a problem for many. To combat that, Bosse says if you know you’re going to be missing a meal during the day, increase the lean protein, healthy fats and fibre of a previous meal to help you go longer without a crash.

Snacking is good

Waiting too long in between meals can drain energy, so snacking in between meals is your best bet. Make sure you eat about five to six small meals daily to ensure your blood sugar levels remain steady. But skip the fatty snacks like chips and chocolate, and opt for some fruits or nuts, which are not only equally as tasty, but healthy for you too.

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