I'm sure many people are like me and suffer with fatigue for a certain period of the day. Afternoons are my toughest time. About 3 o'clock in the afternoon, I start daydreaming about taking a nap.
After I read this article, I discovered a few tips to overcome my afternoon slump.
Following are a three top energy zappers and what you can eat and drink to stay sharp, focused and energized all day:
Tension triggers a surge in hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline, which can lead to fatigue, headache and back pain.
- Eat more carb-rich foods which boost serotonin levels, a calming brain chemical.
- Nibble on chocolate. Dark is best because it contains caffeine and theobromine, a mild mood and energy-boosting stimulant.
- Build a high-energy salad. Choose dark leafy greens, which are higher in nutrients and fiber, add a variety of colorful vegetables, such as carrots, bell peppers, and broccoli. And always include a low-fat source of protein such as chickpeas or grilled chicken to round it out.
- Eat at least three 1-ounce servings of whole grains. Whole grains sustain energy because they keep blood sugar stable.
- Eat iron-enriched foods. Without iron, your cells don't get oxygen they need, and that causes fatigue. Daily goal: 18 mg for ages 50 and younger; 8 mg for ages 51 and older.
- Eat more fluid-filled foods. A recent study of athletes found that 92 percent felt fatigued after limiting fluids and water-rich foods for 15 hours. They also had lapses in memory and reported difficulty concentrating.To eat for energy, opt for water-rich snacks, including fresh produce. Foods that swell up during cooking — such as oatmeal or pasta (which is nearly 65 percent water) — are also smart choices.
- Drink more tea. A recent report found that pairing caffeine and the amino acid L-theanine, both present in tea, decreased mental fatigue and improved alertness, reaction time, and memory. What's more, black tea varieties can help you recover from stress, according to researchers at University College London. In their study, adults who drank tea four times a day for 6 weeks had lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol after a tense moment, compared with those who drank a tealike placebo.
Calories are literally units of energy. Without the proper amount of fuel your cells need to perform, you'll feel weak and light-headed. Your challenge: Trim enough calories to lose weight but get the right number to keep energized.
- Eat more frequent meals. Small, regular meals and snacks (instead of a few large ones) every 3 to 4 hours give you sustained energy and dampen hunger by keeping your blood sugar on an even keel.
- Eat more fiber. Roughage-rich foods slow digestion, keeping energy stable. They also help fill you up so you eat less. Choosing foods such as onions, bananas, and whole wheat may help you keep up your stamina and control your weight because they are rich in inulin, a prebiotic fiber (meaning it encourages the growth of healthy bacteria in the gut). Inulin may keep unwanted pounds at bay by regulating some of the hormones that control appetite, according to researchers at the USDA/ARS Children's Nutrition Research Center.
- Drink more water and unsweetened beverages. Staying hydrated will keep you energized and may help you shed weight. Even mild dehydration can slow metabolism, according to researchers at the University of Utah. Just avoid artificially sweetened beverages. Although they contribute few calories, a Purdue University study released earlier this year revealed that artificial sweeteners may interfere with your brain's hunger signals, prompting you to eat more.
When you're tired, you may feel hungrier than usual. Lack of slumber disrupts hormones that signal your need for nourishment. Eating the right foods can help boost your energy and keep you satisfied without overeating.
- Eat more sleep-promoting nutrients that contain vitamins B6 and B12, calcium, iron, and magnesium can help you maintain healthy sleep patterns. One key player is vitamin B12, which we don't absorb as well as we age. The nutrient helps fight fatigue by building strong, healthy red blood cells. Several studies reveal that vitamin B12 may improve chronic insomnia by influencing melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep cycles. Because B12 is found only in animal foods, such as turkey and milk, vegetarians and vegans may need to eat fortified foods or take a supplement.
- Eat more carbs at night. Before you turn in, try a small bowl of oatmeal or a handful of whole grain crackers for their comforting carbohydrates. An all-carb snack increases levels of mood-lifting serotonin, which may help promote sleep.
- Drink more small doses of caffeine. Frequent mini-servings of caffeine (8 ounces of coffee or less) keep you awake, alert, and focused for longer than a single jumbo one would, according to sleep experts. Not a java junkie? Tea works, too, though it is lower in caffeine.
- Eat your meals at the same time every day. Your body's caloric needs are closely tied to its other daily rhythms, including when you get up and go to bed and when you expend the most energy. Chaotic eating leads to greater hunger and overeating.
Related Article: 6 Guilt-Free Reasons To Love Carbs
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