Food should give us energy, right? But why do we sometimes feel great and full of energy after a good feed, whilst some days just drag on after eating a lovely meal?

With each meal and snack, you have an opportunity to give your body adequate and even extra nutrition. But many meals fall short of this goal. We should all follow a diet to increase energy.

What is draining our energy?

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Lack of energy and weight gain are often related to certain lifestyle choices, such as not enough healthy food, too much processed foods and sugar and not enough exercise and sleep, plus an overload of stress.

It sometimes feels that we become more and more dependent on energy drinks to keep us going. Energy doesn’t come from sugar.

Taking in simple carbs (sugar, corn syrup, honey, cane sugar, white flour like pasta, or white-ish flour like wheat or whole grain bread) will cause a quick spike in blood sugar followed by a fall.

Moreover, simple carbs and excess complex carbs will cause sluggishness.

Within the functional beverage market, the energy drink segment has experienced the largest volume growth and increased annual sales [1].

This should give you an idea of just how many people are turning to energy drinks to give them the boost they need to get through their day.

Among the 10 energy-draining foods to avoid are:

Bagels, muffins, cereal, fizzy drinks, fruit smoothies and fruit juice, sweetened yogurt, potato crisps and sandwiches.

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Diet tips to increase energy:

#1. 80/20 rule – Fill your stomach 80% full.

The Japanese call this principle ‘hari hachi bu’. You know how you feel when you over-eat: stuffed, bloated and uncomfortable. Maybe you even have some indigestion.

No doubt about it, overeating severely weakens your digestive system and makes it difficult for your body to process the food you need for energy. By eating 80% full and leaving 20% for breathing, you will feel lighter and more energetic.

So the next time you want to eat everything on your plate, leave the 20% on the plate, says researcher Brian Wansink, PhD [2]. Dr. Wansink confirmed that most people don’t miss that extra 20%.

How to do it? Eat slowly and chew your food well to help digestion. Stop eating when you’re satisfied and become familiar with the feeling of 80% full. Portion sizes count.

#2. Diet to Increase Energy and Burn More Fat, Replace Your Carbs with Healthy Fats

This is an important step to getting the energy you need from your food while also optimizing your weight [3]. Keep in mind that when I am talking about harmful carbs, I am only referring to grains and sugars, NOT vegetable carbs.

You need very little, if any, of the former and plenty of the latter. A reasonable goal will be to have as much as 50-70% of daily calories from healthy fat, which will radically reduce your carbohydrate intake.

Fat is far more satiating than carbs, so if you have cut down on carbs and still feel ravenous, it’s a sign that you have not replaced them with sufficient amounts of healthy fat.

In fact, healthy saturated fat (like avocados, coconut oil, raw butter from grass-fed cows) – the fat that we’ve been taught not to eat – raises your good cholesterol [4].

Not only is saturated fat the optimal fuel for your brain, it also provides building blocks for cell membranes, hormones (testosterone and thyroid hormone) and hormone-like substances.

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#3. Breakfast is King Choose a Protein-Rich Breakfast

As you sleep, your body is hard at work digesting yesterday’s dinner, resting and detoxifying. By the time you wake up, your body and brain are demanding fresh fuel. “Breaking the fast” is a key way to power up in the morning. Do it right and the benefits can last all day.

If you miss the day’s first meal, notes Dr. David S. Ludwig, a nutrition expert at Harvard-affiliated Children’s Hospital Boston, you may start off with an energy deficit and have to tap into your energy reserves.

But not all breakfasts have staying power. Eating a substantial, protein-rich breakfast (it can be animal or vegetarian source) fills you up and keeps you full, so you end up eating less during the afternoon and evening hours.

Plus, research shows that including protein at breakfast is critical to successful weight loss.

#4. Check for food sensitivities – Elimination Diet and Detoxification

Most of us crave wheat nearly as much as sugar. Unfortunately, large numbers of people, perhaps even the majority of the population, are negatively affected by the major protein in wheat called gluten.

Based on my experience, gluten intolerance is a common problem that can be treated very easily by eliminating gluten and most grains from your daily diet. But gluten is not the only common food sensitivity. Elimination diet may help you find out all the foods you could be sensitive to.

Dioxins are very dangerous environmental pollutants that linger at unsafe levels in many of the foods we eat. These toxic dioxins or POPs (persistent organic pollutants) can store in the body’s fat cells for up to 11 years before they break down naturally [5].

Overload with toxins can lead to liver congestion which will express itself as brain fog, fatigue and lethargy after a meal. Seasonal detoxification is key to optimal health. Check out my video here.

In Part 2 tomorrow we take a further detailed look at more do’s and don’ts if you want to increase your energy levels!

Your diet is key for boosting energy levels and fat-burning!

References:

[1] http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1541-4337.2010.00111.x/full

[2] http://www.amazon.co.uk/Mindless-Eating-Brian-Wansink/dp/1848502524

[3] http://sportsmedicine.about.com/od/sportsnutrition/a/Fat.htm

[4] Aseem Malhotra, et al. Observations from the heart: saturated fat is not the major issue, BMJ, October 2013;347:f6340.

[5] http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs225/en/

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