Could your diet be making you tired? Have you ever thought about what and how you eat affects your energy? Maybe you do choose healthy foods most of the time, but you still feel exhausted? What’s going on?
Let’s take a closer look at what you eat and how you eat may be affecting your energy levels.
What foods are making you tired?
While there are various factors of why you feel exhausted, fatigue is strongly connected to what you eat, how much you eat, and the timing of meals.
As you probably know, there are some foods that drain your energy and others that can boost your energy.
Your body runs off fuel that is provided by the food you eat. Cells that support high energy require carbohydrates, healthy enzymes, proteins, vitamins, minerals and healthy fats in order to run properly.
Your body is stronger and less fatigued if you eat a healthy diet, and avoid foods that are processed or too high in sugar and fat.
When you eat and fatigue
The timing of your meals can affect your level of fatigue. Have you ever felt fatigued or dragged out after eating an especially large lunch or supper? You feel this way because the body has changed its focus and is expending energy in order to digest the food you just ate and has no more energy left for other things and that is why you feel so tired.
In order to avoid feeling this way after meals, you should eat smaller meal portions more frequently and spaced out over the course of your day. This fuels your body on a regular basis and is a good weight loss method as well.
Processed foods and fatigue
Our society has popularized fast foods and convenience. Sometimes the fast foods or sugary foods are “comfort” foods. Unfortunately, greasy fast food only staves of hunger and does not fight fatigue.
Other processed foods, including high sodium canned foods, sugary candy, packaged foods, meals in a box and meat that has already been cooked at the factory are filled with preservatives and salt. These and other aspects of processed foods will make you feel tired after eating them and never provide the body the nutrients it needs.
On the other hand, fresh whole foods provide all the essential nutrients your body needs and nothing it does not. Vegetables, lean unprocessed meats, wild and brown rice and fruit in moderation are your best choices for high energy packed meals.
Caffeine and energy
While caffeine is technically a stimulant, you feel only a temporary jolt of energy, followed by a crash in which you are greatly fatigued. The less caffeine you consume, the better you will feel in the long run. If you can’t avoid caffeine, just drink plain black coffee or try black tea. The caffeine in sodas and energy drinks is offset by the sugar and miscellaneous substances found in these foods. These type of drinks negatively affect your overall health in many ways, and only end up making you feel worse.
Proteins and fatigue
Where you eat animal or plant protein, make sure to get enough protein in your daily diet. Select lean cuts of organic meat with less saturated fats. Chicken, and fish are good choices, and tuna with tomato and cucumber slices makes a great lunch. Eating fish is especially helpful because it contains omega 3 fatty acids that not only fight fatigue but also help with heart health. When selecting beef, choose grass-fed beef. It may be more expensive but your body will thank you!
Sugar and fatigue
And yes…sugar. Refined carbohydrates like table sugar and the fructose in juices do not provide your body with nutrition. The same is true of white flour and foods made from it. These are foods that cause wide fluctuations in your blood sugar, which leads to fatigue.
Instead of sugary foods, eat complex carbohydrates found in vegetables and whole grains. These are slow to digest, which prevents blood sugar spikes because they contain fiber. The fluctuations in blood sugar are diminished and you stand a lesser chance of suffering from fatigue after eating them. Whole oats in the morning make for an energy blast through the day. Raw veggie salad for lunch will get you through the afternoon hump.
Nuts and fatigue
Nuts are great energy foods. Your best choices are Brazil nuts, almonds, hazelnuts, cashews, walnuts, and pecans. Eat them in their natural state, unsalted and unflavored to get all the nutrient benefits. Nuts are an excellent pick me up after the nutrition of lunch has worn off and you need a late afternoon snack.
Many times we forget that drinking more water has a major factor in how we feel. When you drink plenty of water, you are less dehydrated and your body works better. How much water do you currently drink? How much water should you drink? An easy way to know how much to drink is to take your weight and divide that number in half. That’s the number of ounces you should aim to drink each day. So if you weight 160 pounds, divide that in half (which is 80). So that would be 80 ounces of water a day, or 10 8-ounce glasses of water.
If you drink sodas or coffee, both of those can be dehydrating, so add another cup or two.
What about supplements?
No matter how well you eat, you may need a little help with supplements. Vitamin D levels can affect your energy and so does Vitamin B. First, check with your medical professional to get his/her recommendation. You can discuss your particular needs with them. If you do buy supplements, make sure that you take a high-quality vitamin, not loaded with extra fillers.
Listen to your body
As you make any changes in what you eat, listen to your body. You’ll begin to learn what it needs to be healthy and strong and to give you the energy you need each and every day to be the best version of you.