Eating for Energy: 4 Easy Tips

We get it – you’re busy. You barely have time to sleep, much less go to the gym or cook a homemade meal. You fall asleep in class or at your desk, and you zone out every 15 minutes.  The good news is that nutrition can help improve your energy situation. The bad news is that none of these tips are a replacement for actual sleep, so be sure to catch your zzzzs

1.   Stay hydrated. The human body needs adequate water to function, and sometimes fatigue is simply a result of dehydration.  Carry a water bottle with you as a constant reminder. Also, beware of vitamin waters, sports drinks, and energy drinks, which can contain a lot of sugar and/or caffeine. If you’re not a fan of plain water, try jazzing it up with fruit or herbs.  Check out: Better Beverage Finder

2.   Eat often. Meal timing is an important factor in maintaining energy levels. If you skip breakfast or go longer than five hours without any food, then your blood sugar levels are not steady and your brain does not have much fuel to work. Snacks are a great way to prevent you from getting “hangry” if you don’t have time to eat a full meal. With that being said, avoid eating too much food at one time so you don’t end up in a food coma. What exactly should you eat? That brings us to…

3.  Get your macros. There are three macronutrients: proteins, fats, and carbohydrates.  Each of your meals and snacks should contain a balance of all three macronutrients – the combination is a recipe for sustained energy. Here is a great resource for getting your macros: PFC Balanced Eating.

4.       Say “no” to diet bandwagons. Diets usually mean deprivation, which can make it really hard to get adequate amounts of all three macronutrients at each meal.  There is science behind why diets just don’t work.  Plus, do you really want to end up like these folks?

About Natasha Chong Cole, MPH, RD

Natasha Chong Cole is a Registered Dietitian and currently a doctoral student in the Division of Nutritional Sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She received her Bachelor of Business Administration degree in Finance from Southern Methodist University and her Master of Public Health degree in Nutrition and Dietetics from Loma Linda University.  Prior to returning to graduate school, she worked as a clinical dietitian and nutrition consultant, specializing in health and wellness, intuitive eating, and weight management. Her research interests include interventions in childhood obesity prevention, and the influence of parental feeding practices on the development of food intake behavior in infants and toddlers. 

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