We all love ourselves a busy rewarding life, and we divide our time between work, family and friends. However, oftentimes, this hectic lifestyle leads us to feel so fatigued that when we wake up in the morning we feel more tired than when we went to sleep. So, where is it all going wrong and what can we do to fight stress and fatigue?
First off, we need to make sure that we are not suffering from an underlying medical condition, once that is written off, we need to take an honest look at our diet. Why? The answer is relatively simple: while nutrition experts can’t agree on a specific universal diet, and this and that nutrition guru and social media pundit will promote this or that fad diet, there is a consensus, in the scientific community, that a balanced diet is necessary to provide our body with all the nutrients it needs to produce high quality energy.
Energy, food and fuel: how does our body transform what we eat into energy?
The keyword here is metabolism, which is the process by which our body transforms what we eat and drink into energy.
The food and drinks we eat are made of different nutrients and they all get metabolised by our body into energy.
Let’s take a close look at the nutrients we need and where we should get them from. There are three basic categories of nutrients and they are: carbohydrates, proteins and fats. As a rule of thumb our body needs 40 – 65 % carbohydrates, 10 – 35% protein and 20 – 35% fat, out of the recommended daily calories intake that ranges between 1800 – 2000 calories for women and 2000 – 2200 calories for men. Nutrients includes liquids and hydration is key in feeling satisfied and avoid cravings. When we feel hungry we might just be dehydrated without even knowing it! The daily water intake recommendations is between 1,5 and 2 litres.
Carbohydrates (or carbs) constitute the majority of our daily calories’ needs and it is therefore important to get them right. Carbs are also the first nutrients to be metabolized into energy, once they are depleted, our body starts burning fats and proteins to get the energy it needs to function. There are two categories of carbs: simple and complex.
The simple ones are found in processed and refined sugars such as candy, table sugar, syrups, and soft drinks.
the complex ones can be found in green vegetables, whole grains and foods made from them (oatmeal, pasta, and whole-grain breads), beans, lentils and peas.
Both simple and complex carbs are converted into glucose, which is the main fuel of our cells. Additionally, the metabolism of complex carbs, stabilizes the sugar levels in our blood leading the pancreas to produce only the insulin necessary. One thing we want to avoid is the excessive production of insulin which is toxic for the body and can be a contributing factor in a number of modern time’s diseases, such as Type 2 diabetes and obesity.
Therefor it is very important to make wise choices in terms of the food we consume.
Proteins’ needs will vary from person to person, someone with a moderately active lifestyle has different protein needs from a professional athlete, so for the majority of us, it would be a sensible choice to follow the guidelines of the National Institute of Health and Nutrition of the US Department of Health and Human Science, which recommends 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight; sources of proteins are for example meat, fish, and legumes. As for fats, we should consume them in moderation and we need to privilege consumption of “good fats” such as nuts, some oils and seeds over “bad fats” typically found in fried and processed food, fatty cuts of meat, butter, ghee, lard and so on. The reason behind this choice is simple, “bad fats” have been identified as the cause of heart problems, and we sure want to avoid that.
The Best Formula For Sustained Energy And A Healthy Body
Simple carbs should be avoided, as they are quickly processed and provide little to no nutrients to the body. Complex carbs are to be preferred, they contain fibre and starch, require more time to metabolise and provide high quality long lasting fuel for the body. Fibre are of particular interest as it helps us feeling satisfied and provide longer lasting energy, contributing to having less cravings between meals. Proteins are also very important, and we can find them in lean meat, pulses and fish. Bearing in mind the percentages mentioned in the paragraphs above, it is very important to include in our diet a small portion of healthy fats, such as avocados, nuts, dried fruits and seeds, and some oils, such as olive oil.
The “Better Avoid” Foods
Processed food, fast food, fatty food and simple sugars are to be avoided. Simple sugars, found for example in candy or biscuits, provide the so called “sugar high”, which consists in an initial burst of energy, that is quickly processed and absorbed by the body, leaving us craving for more. This could lead to irritability and mood swings as it imbalances the sugar levels in the blood.
Caffeine and alcohol, should also be avoided, as their ability to provide an energy burst followed by a down, could lead to long term negative effects on the body.
Preferred Schedule To Maximize Food For Energy
Your Food To Sustain Energy
Some experts suggest stop eating after 6 pm or have three meals and three snacks a day. The golden rule should be: listen to your body. If you have a sedentary job and do not exercise much having three meals a day and three snacks might be eating too much. It is advisable to have a varied and complete diet which comprise something from every food group in the proportions mentioned above. And keep in mind that fiber, protein and good fats takes longer time to digest and therefore make us feel satiated for longer. Always remember to drink enough water between meals and as soon as you wake up in the morning.
One of the best way to make sure we follow these rules and get all the nutrients we need to stay healthy and energized, is meal preparation, including snacks and a refillable bottle of water. Simple sugars are the ones our body processes the fastest, which means these are also the ones our body might crave once it feel depleted. As always, common sense should also apply, and when we feel hungry shortly after a meal, or crave a biscuit, we might just be thirsty, so a glass of water could do the trick; however, should we really feel peckish, we should get a fruit, and if we have it readily available and cut up in portions it will make it so much easier for us to pick the healthy, energizing choice.
Even if life is busy, it is important to make wise food choices, that will supply you with energy throughout the day. Your body will thank you.