Do you ever get to 3:00p and think you're going to face plant on your desk because you just can't keep your eyes open any longer? There are a lot of things that can leave you feeling less than energetic but your eating habits might be one of them. Here are some of the ways eating habits affect energy levels.
1. Not eating enough carbs.
Carbs may be portrayed as enemy #1 everywhere you look these days but, in reality, they're your body's main fuel source. As such, if you don't get enough of them, you're going to feel tired. Some carbs are digested more quickly and therefore give you a quicker boost of energy. These include things like sugar, soda, juice, and white bread/rice/pasta. Other carbs are digested more slowly and therefore give you a more steady stream of energy. These include whole grains, beans, some vegetables, and whole fruits. Just like with any type of food, some forms of carbohydrates offer more nutrients than others but that doesn't mean one is better than the other. They just serve different purposes. If you're experiencing low energy and have been avoiding carbohydrates in your meals and snacks, you might want to try adding some back in!
2. Not eating enough in general.
While carbohydrates are your main fuel source, you also get energy (calories) from proteins and fats. If you aren't eating an adequate amount of calories throughout the day (in any form: carbohydrates, protein, or fats), you will feel sluggish and tired. Many people think that they don't need calories if they don't do much physical activity or if they want to lose weight. However, most adults need somewhere between 1000-1500 calories EVEN IF THEY NEVER GOT OUT OF BED FOR THE DAY. You read that right. Your brain, heart, lungs, kidneys, liver, and digestive organs don't work for free and they need calories to do the job of keeping you alive. Adding in your normal daily tasks, exercise, and more just adds to the amount of energy you need to consume to keep going. If you aren't giving your body enough fuel to take care of all those things, you'll probably find yourself feeling tired.
3. Going too long between meals.
Our bodies like routine and they tend to function best (digestion, blood sugar levels, energy) if we eat every 2-5 hours. Some people get hungry more quickly and some take a little longer but, if you routinely go longer than 5 hours without eating, you'll likely see your energy levels suffer. If you get hungry sooner than 2 hours after your meals, your meals are likely too small and it would probably be helpful to add to them. If you are still full 5 hours after your meals, you might be eating well past comfortable fullness, which could also leave you feeling a little sluggish. Adding in snacks with both carbohydrate/fiber and protein will help carry you over in the long gaps between meals and give you some extra energy. Some examples are popcorn + cheese, fruit + peanut butter, yogurt + nuts, cereal + yogurt, cheese + crackers, veggies + hummus, crackers + hummus, cottage cheese + crackers, and chips + guacamole, just to name a few!
Chugging caffeine or taking energy supplements will only get you so far if you find yourself dragging during the day. Food is energy, so take a look at your eating habits next time you're falling asleep at your desk or crashing on the couch as soon as you walk in the front door!