If we could just find a way to have an endless supply of energy we would all be superheroes. We all want to live our lives to their full potential but many times we have just enough stamina to get through another day. There are some common mistakes many people are making that may just be sabotaging their energy storehouse. If you constantly feel tired or run down even when you are eating a healthy diet and exercising daily, you may have fallen into one of these 5 energy zapping habits.
1. Limiting your carbs but forgetting about protein
So the gluten free and carb watchers may have half the equation right but that isn’t the end of the story. Your body needs protein for sustained energy and to prevent blood sugar crashes from carbohydrate consumption. Keep in mind that fruits are carbs. A morning shake (without gluten, soy or dairy) blended with a high-quality protein powder such as chia, rice, or pea protein is great to kick start your energy for the day. If you aren’t in to drinking your breakfast then consider organic turkey sausage, egg whites or another high-protein food before heading out the door. Breakfast really should include 20 grams of protein to give you the energy you need.
2. Not eating often enough
Skipping meals or going long periods without eating can cause all kinds of problems for your metabolism and energy levels. To keep your blood sugar levels even, you should be eating every 3-4 hours. Otherwise, you get blood sugar drops which have your reaching for an unhealthy snack or your adrenals kick in with cortisol to raise your blood sugar. Using these reserves is a real drain on your energy levels. The best strategy is to make sure you get in 3 square meals a day and a minimum of 2 healthy snacks per day.
3. Food Sensitivities
Many people are dairy or gluten sensitive but just don’t listen to their bodies close enough to recognize the signs. Just because you don’t break out in a horrible rash or begin vomiting when eating certain foods doesn’t mean your body tolerates them well. Some of the more subtle signs of food sensitivity are bloating and gas but sometimes you can’t see anything obvious after eating. Instead these issues end up as weight issues, inflammation, sinus issues, headaches, acne or low energy. When we keep eating foods we are sensitive to the downward spiral and cycle continues to drain our energy.
The two biggest food sensitivities are dairy and gluten which can often be responsible for autoimmune diseases. A great way to test your own tolerance for these foods is to eliminate gluten and dairy to see how you feel. You can try going without one for a week and then the other for a separate week or give them both up at the same time.
4. Sugar highs give way to sugar lows
We all know that sugar is stored as fat in the body, which is why dieting usually recommends cutting sugar out first. But sugar isn’t just bad for your waistline. The average American consumes 25 teaspoons of sugar daily. Sugar is hiding everywhere, in every packaged food such as ketchup, salad dressing, bread, granola bars and cereals. Even foods labeled as organic or healthy are loaded with sugar in the form of honey, molasses or other sugar substitutes.
Sugar in any form causes your blood sugar to spike and crash, which leads to a major drop in energy. You need to become a food label expert and avoid anything with more than 6 grams of sugar per serving. If you are craving sugar, it’s typically a sign of low blood sugar which is best addressed with a good high protein snack. So reach for an apple with peanut butter or some almonds instead of that candy bar.
The Glycemic index (GI) measures the variation in blood sugar levels based on the foods consumed. Foods with carbohydrates that break down more slowly, releasing glucose more gradually into the bloodstream, will typically have a lower GI. Eating foods with a high GI will cause a spike in blood sugar and energy, resulting in a burst of energy followed by a crash. This constant rollercoaster of spikes and dips in energy levels will leave you exhausted. The foods that will give you an even energy boost include Tomatoes, Blueberries, Black beans, Walnuts and Oats.
5. You don’t drink enough water.
If you are slightly dehydrated you will have a drop in your energy level. Dehydration actually makes your blood thicker, which causes your heart to work harder to distribute oxygen and nutrients to your muscles and organs. Not getting enough water will slow you down.
Other energy zapping habits are stress, lack of exercise, being too busy or never relaxing. So consider getting outdoors, walking, meditating and having some fun. Eating the right foods at the right times will drastically increase your energy levels and allow you to be ready for anything life has in store for you. If you can make the decision to avoid these pitfalls, you will have more energy and feel more alive.