Eating for Energy Part 1: Key Nutrients and Timing
Welcome to the first article in our new series of energy posts! As long-time fans of ours already know, we chose the name ‘Zing’ because it represents that amazing feeling of nothing-can-stop-me-now goodness that comes when we’re getting the right nutrients. Smart nutrition wakes you up, helps you dominate your workouts, keeps you focused during the day, and keeps you satiated between meals.
What can you expect in our energy series? We’re going to address different types of energy – like mental and physical – and discuss how the right nutrition in conjunction with healthy lifestyle habits is the key to saying buh-bye to fatigue and hello again to vitality.
Why “hello again”? Remember how much energy you had in your youth? As we age, a combination of factors as outlined in a Today’s Dietitian article start to work against us:
- Lack of physical activity due to work, family or financial constraints
- Poor eating habits
- Lack of sleep
- Too much caffeine or alcohol
Age-related fatigue is not, in itself, a life sentence. Professional nutritionists like us work with clients to clear out all the “bad fuel” that’s weighing them down in order to put that pep back in their step.
In this kick-off post, we’re going to look at key nutrients and timing – what should you be eating and when, in order to perform at your best all day long?
Let’s find out.
The Right Kinds of Nutrients
Julie Andrews famously sang, “Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start. When you read begin with A.B.C…” Well, when you eat, you should begin your day with P.F.C. -- protein, fat and complex carbohydrates.
A breakfast of coffee and refined carbs (donuts, pastries, bagels, sugary cereals) are the staple of too many American breakfasts. Worse yet, some may only grab the coffee and forgo breakfast altogether. By mid-morning, the likely result is to feel sluggish, hazy and craving more coffee or sugar. That’s because these caffeinated beverages and foods lead to blood sugar spikes and crashes, which can put you on a vicious cycle of energy highs and lows for the rest of the day.
We understand that not everybody is a morning person. If you don’t have enough time in the morning to scramble some eggs and veggies for a high protein and good quality carb meal, for example, try instead for whole wheat toast slathered in nut butter. Or dip into last night’s salmon and whole grain pasta leftovers – it’ll jump start your metabolism and make you feel better throughout the morning than that croissant.
Which nutrients do you want to focus on for maximizing energy stores? We suggest:
- Vitamin D (Think: fatty fish, cheese, egg yolks, fortified orange juice and cereals)
- Fatty acids like omega-3s (Think: fish – salmon, herring, halibut, fresh tuna; oysters)
- Iron (Think: lean red meat, green leafy veggies, dried fruit, fish, poultry and pork)
- B vitamins (Think: eggs, dairy, fish, meat and poultry)
- Zinc (Think: Oysters, crab, lobster, pumpkin seeds, meat and poultry)
- Magnesium (Think: whole wheat bread, brown rice, green leafy veggies, beans, nuts, seeds)
The Right Timing
When it comes to timing, it’s important to figure out the right timing for your meals and snacks that is best for you personally. Eating healthy snacks in between smaller meals is an important method to keeping your energy levels up, and your blood sugar steady and metabolism efficient.
Professional nutritionists recommend eating balanced meals every few hours to operate at your peak all day long. This means avoiding going longer than four to five hours without getting a bite to eat. If you’re not already doing so, try adding a small healthy snack to your mid-morning routine and your afternoon routine – this helps keep those energy levels firing and also helps prevent you from turning into a ravenous beast prior to lunch and dinner!
Snacks such as nuts and berries, or veggies and nut butter can supply you with the zing you need to power on. Zing Bars are our favorite snack, of course, providing real, dependable energy from real, dependable nutrition that starts with great taste and lasts for hours.
Tune in next month for the second post in our energy series where we focus in on energy for cognitive function!