How to Eat for High Energy

February 20, 2010

Caffeine, colas, energy drinks—they’re everywhere. Signs of our eternal quest for more energy.  

But what if you could get more energy with just a couple of tweaks to your diet?

You can. The way you eat can make the difference between being on a roller coaster ride of high and low energy and maintaining consistently high energy levels, day in, day out.

Use these five tips and tricks to get started:

1. Eat more often. This is probably one of the best ways to increase your energy over time. When you eat four-to-five times a day, and in smaller portions (breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks), you give yourself a full tank of gas to run on all day long. Eating throughout the day prevents mid-afternoon energy dips and post-lunch food comas. Plus, when you stretch your eating over the course of the day, you have a chance to take in more important nutrients. Nutrients = fuel to keep your motor running! And no, you won’t gain weight.

Try one of these energizing changes: If you eat two meals a day, shoot for three. Eat something first thing in the morning, with protein (eggs; yogurt with mueslix; peanut butter on an apple; a smoothie). Eat a snack in the afternoon (nuts and fruit; celery with almond butter; yogurt topped with berries).

2. Eat real food. Fill your glorious human engine with whole, real foods—meat, fish, poultry, vegetables, fruits, and grains. Look for whole foods that are unprocessed. You can find them in the perimeters of your grocery store (no additional ingredients = unprocessed). Think of yourself as an amazing car that only runs on the best-quality gas.  

Try one of these: Instead of a frozen dinner, bake a piece of fish and serve it on a bed of spinach; instead of white pasta or pizza, whip up some couscous and top it with chicken and sautéed veggies. Eat your favorite fruit for dessert. For more ideas, check out these Chef by Request menus.

3. Eat the right amount of calories. Sometimes we realize we’ve eaten too much when it’s too late. And then the food coma settles in. Zzzzz. Knowing the right amount of food for your body type and exercise volume helps keep your energy and blood-sugar levels balanced. If you’re a Chef by Request customer, all the calories are figured out for you ahead of time. Otherwise, you can search for a calorie calculator online or see a nutritionist for a professional evaluation.
Try one of these: If you’re a member of the clean-plate club, start serving yourself smaller portions. If you eat over the sink or on the run, STOP. Put the food on a plate and sit down with it, so you can see how much you’re taking in. If you’re dining out, ask for half the serving size.

4. Eat a protein with every meal.  Infusing meals with protein is the “open sesame” to energy sources. Protein also has the essential fats that stick with you and keep the motor humming for a good long time (but it’s still better not to go too long between meals). Put walnuts on your oatmeal. Eat a stir-fry with meats and vegetables. Instead of pasta-only meals, make a smaller portion of whole-grain pasta, pile on your favorite sautéed veggies, and add shrimp.

Try one of these: Put walnuts on your oatmeal. Eat a stir-fry with meats and vegetables. Instead of pasta-only meals, make a smaller portion of whole-grain pasta, pile on your favorite sautéed veggies, and add shrimp.

5. Cut back on processed sugar and white flour. Reducing or even eliminating foods like white pastas, rice, baked goods, and sugary fruit juices will do wonders for your energy. Sugar and white flour have a tendency to spike your blood sugar, hold it there and then . . . craaaaaaaaaaash—all your mojo comes tumbling down.

Try one of these: For a sweet tooth, eat sweet potatoes, yams, or yogurt and raw honey (a superfood). Instead of white pasta, try quinoa (also high in protein). Eat your fruit instead of drinking it—all that extra roughage is good for you, and the feeling of chewing can be more satisfying too.

Remember, changing eating habits takes time. You don’t have to do it perfectly or all at once. Making one small change after another will begin to make a difference. And once you start to experience a steady stream of energy running through you day after day—it’s going to be hard to want to eat any other way.


Learn more about Chef by Request.
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Learn more about how Chef by Request supports permanent weight loss.
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