Foods to Fuel Your Workday
By Linda Knittel
If you're like many people, personal time and proper nourishment can often fall by the wayside of a packed schedule. Here's a look at what to eat to stay energized.
Begin with Breakfast
Eating a breakfast of complex carbohydrates and lean protein within a half hour of waking will get your metabolism humming and set you up for a whole day of sustained energy. Conversely, if you wait too long to eat in the morning, your body will kick into preservation mode. This rather taxing process breaks down stored glycogen into usable fuel, giving rise to bouts of low energy, loss of concentration, and an insatiable appetite come midday.
Start your day with an omelet and a slice of whole-grain toast, a bowl of slow-cooked oatmeal with a scoop of almond butter, or a smoothie made with nut milk, chia seeds, and frozen berries.
The Power of Protein
When you are feeling a little sluggish, chances are a cookie, bagel, or soda might sound like just the thing to give you that burst of energy you need.
In reality, however, such simple carbohydrates will ultimately drag you down. First, they make your blood sugar shoot way up, giving you that quick jolt, but soon your body releases a hefty dose of insulin into the blood, sweeping all that sugar into cells and storage, leaving you once again lagging and in need of fuel.
The solution? Always eat some protein with your carbs to delay the absorption of sugar into the blood--meaning a steady flow of energy for you. If you have the time to eat a real lunch during the day, try a slow-burning combination like a turkey burger on a whole-grain bun, or salmon and veggies over brown rice. If snacks are all you can fit in, be sure they include protein and carbs, too.
A nutritional anthropologist by training, Linda Knittel works as a nutritional counselor and health writer. Her work has appeared in such publications as Essence, Fitness, Glamour, Gourmet, Natural Health, and Yoga Journal. She is also the author of the User's Guide to Natural Remedies for Depression (Basic Health Publications, 2003).
Even if you only have a few minutes, you can still fuel up on smart snacks that will keep your energy even. Here are a few suggestions that combine complex carbohydrates and lean protein:
- Half a turkey sandwich on whole wheat
- Handful of raw almonds or cashews
- Hard-boiled egg
- Hummus and veggie sticks
- Small cup of yogurt with slivered almonds
- Smoked salmon on rice crackers