These days, more and more people are investing in their health. Tech innovations have also transformed the way we view health and wellness, with apps, streamed classes, and fitness wearables taking over the industry. However, more than exercise — our nutrition is just as important too.
Why is nutrition important?
According to the NPR, over 80% of Americans aren't eating enough fruits and vegetables. A poor diet doesn't just mean you're missing out on key nutrients, but it also could lead to you feeling constantly fatigued.
If you’re simply learning online, then you’re bound to have seen that nutrition is a key part of exercise. In fact, today it is considered as important as actually exercising, which is why the phrase “Fitness is 70% diet, 30% gym” is commonly known. This shift in thinking can be seen at all levels of fitness, from health publications to how it is taught at a higher education level. For health professionals who’ve studied an online exercise science degree, they learn how nutrition is as equally important as exercise prescription and program design. For this reason, modern instructors will emphasize the importance of nutrition with your program — whether it is eating for recovery or energy.
That said, a healthy lifestyle is a combination of good exercise and smart nutrition choices — but sometimes, we don’t always have the luxury to do both. This leads to lack of nutrients or exercise, making it hard to recharge and push forward. If left unchecked, this can turn into a vicious cycle.
While grabbing a cup of coffee might be your first instinct to recharge, it's best to follow a healthy diet to naturally boost your energy levels.
Here are five eating habits you should cultivate to help you stay energized throughout the day.
1. Don't Skip Breakfast
It's known as the most important meal of the day for good reason. Sports dietitian Cindy Dallow explains that breakfast supplies the body with energy for the day, while stabilizing our blood sugar levels. This also means that having breakfast will have you feeling more satiated, and therefore helps you avoid munching on unhealthy, sugary snacks. But of course, this doesn't mean you should fill yourself up with pancakes or bacon. Instead, opt for the right food sources like eggs, oatmeal, and fresh fruit.
2. Eat Small, Frequently
Instead of having three heavy meals a day, try eating lightly every three hours so your body receives energy from food gradually. If you’re looking for a few quick snack ideas, try having dark chocolate or avocados! What's more is that researchers from the New York University Langone Medical Center found that avocados are richer in potassium — a key nutrient for boosting energy levels — compared to bananas. Overall, remember to nourish yourself throughout the day with the right food in the right amount.
3. Choose Complex Carbs
Carbs tend to get a bad rap, but they're actually your body's main source of energy. The key is to choose complex carbs over simple ones. This is because the former is digested by the body at a steadier rate than the latter, distributing the energy more evenly. On that note, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health recommends whole grains, whole-wheat sources, and legumes as complex carbs to incorporate into your diet.
4. Be Careful with Energy Bars
Don't let its name fool you, as energy bars can do more harm than good. Most energy bars are processed products that are packed with refined sugar, and thus likely to cause the dreaded sugar crash. Indeed, a study published on the Open Heart journal found that the overconsumption of added sugars resulted in damaging the mitochondria — otherwise known as the cell's powerhouse — and thus weakened the body's energy generation.
5. Enjoy Each Bite
It's not just about what you eat but how you eat as well, since rushing your meals results in poor digestion. This makes it harder for your body to break down your food and its nutrients. Not to mention, a review printed on the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition notes that eating slower leads to better digestion. To this end, be sure to chew slowly and of course, enjoy your meal.