Beyond Caffeine and Energy Drinks: How Proper Nutrition Will Keep You Energized

Constantly reaching for a soda or cup of coffee or energy drink throughout the day? Do you feel tired no matter how much you sleep in? Your diet may be to blame. Lack of proper nutrition could have you worn out and feeling under the weather. While there isn’t one food that will satisfy your dietary needs and give you the energy to face each day, with a balanced diet, you can regain energy and feel more awake to face the day.

Our bodies receive energy from carbohydrates. Glucose is the body’s main source of fuel. As you eat carbohydrates, your body breaks them down into glucose (sugar) which enters the bloodstream. Your pancreas releases insulin, which moves the sugar from your blood to your cells, where it can be used as a source of energy. There are simple and complex carbohydrates. Simple carbohydrates include foods like candy, donuts, and fruit juice, and their small structure makes them easy to digest. Complex carbohydrates have a more complex structure, rich in fiber and nutrients that take longer to digest and provide your body with energy for a longer period of time. Some common examples of complex carbohydrates include whole grains, fruits, vegetables, beans, and starches. Overloading on refined sugars like simple carbs can lead to a crash and leave you feeling tired. Instead, make sure you’re having fruits, vegetables, and whole grains at every meal along with lean protein sources to balance the meal.

In addition to paying attention to what we eat, we also need to be mindful of when we eat. One of the best ways to make sure your diet is balanced is to eat three separate meals each day. A lot of Americans have the habit of skipping breakfast. In fact, one study found that nearly one-quarter of Americans skip breakfast daily. Why does this matter? Skipping any meal, especially the most important meal of the day, will lead to fatigue and will have you looking for other ways to get back that energy. If you’re looking to increase your energy, you should plan to eat breakfast every day and another meal at least four hours later. Setting a healthy meal pattern is essential for your health.

Although it’s important to get your energy from a balanced diet, caffeine isn’t necessarily bad for you as long as it is in moderation. There’s nothing wrong with having a couple of cups of tea or coffee a day. Make sure that you aren’t drinking caffeine too late in the afternoon. Caffeine can impact your sleep schedule and cause you to feel sleepier during the day. Be mindful of the sugar content in your beverages because it could lead to a sugar crash. Sodas, sweet tea, some energy drinks, and sweet coffee drinks like Frappuccinos have a large number of simple sugars.

“When people tell me they are tired, I want to know why,” said Registered Dietician and Diabetes Educator, Gale Pearson, MS, RDN, CDCES of TPMG Nutrition Services. A balanced diet is just one reason you could feel fatigued throughout the day. Not enough sleep or exercise could also leave you feeling exhausted and run down.

If you think your diet might be to blame for fatigue, make a point to seek help. Talk to a TPMG dietician today about ways to improve your energy levels through diet modifications.

Gale Pearson

About Gale Pearson, MS, RDN, CDCES

Gale Pearson, MS, RDN, CDCES is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator with over 25 years of experience working with patients on dietary and nutrition wellness planning. Gale received her undergraduate degree from Hampton University and her Master of Science in Nutrition and Dietetics from Howard University.

With extensive experience in nutrition counseling, Gale works with her patients to develop strategies to improve their eating habits and lifestyles, in turn helping them to manage their weight and medical conditions. She credits witnessing her patients’ symptoms and overall health improvement as a result of the lifestyle changes as one of the most gratifying and rewarding aspects of her career.

At TPMG Nutrition Services in Newport News and Williamsburg, Gale provides one-on-one consultations, nutrition and weight management counseling, and diabetes education.

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