We all lead busy lives so one thing many of us may be desiring for our lives is increased energy. Here are some tips to help you improve your energy for training, for work, and life.
- Eat more protein-rich foods
- Eat more colorful veggies and fruits
- Drink more hydrating fluids
- Move more
- Improve sleep hygiene
Eat more protein-rich foods
Eating protein in your diet is important for overall health, recovery, performance, body composition and feeling full and satisfied at meals. We need protein to survive and thrive and getting optimal amounts of protein will help us feel, function and perform best. There is no best protein, however, the context will be different for each individual. Here are some guidelines:
- Choose protein as close to its original form as possible, think on a continuum. i.e. rotisserie chicken is ‘better’ than McDonald's chicken nuggets. Improving our diets overall works best when we make small changes over time in our habits and behaviors thinking in terms of ‘better’ rather than perfect.
- Choose the protein-rich food that you prefer i.e. some vegetarians or vegans would probably choose seitan or tempeh whereas someone else may choose chicken depending on their preferences and lifestyle choices
- Eat a variety of protein sources, our bodies function best while getting nutrients from a mix of sources so keep your protein sources diverse i.e. have fish for lunch, chicken for dinner, eggs for breakfast, and then switch up the type of protein you have at each meal every week or two. It gets boring eating chicken 24/7.
- Add in a protein powder to your diet! This is a simple way to get some protein.
Action: One simple action step for getting optimal amounts of protein is to include a palm-size portion of protein at each meal! If you eat 3 meals a day, or 4 meals a day, including a palm size of protein at each meal. That ends up being about 25g of protein at each meal depending on your hand size.
Eat more colorful veggies and fruits
Colorful veggies and fruits are packed with vitamins and minerals our bodies need to feel and function best! Micronutrients keep us healthy and thriving. Here are some guidelines:
- Get 1 serving of 1 color of veggie at each meal! To make it easy we will use color categories of veggies: Green, Orange, Red, Purple, White
- Try to eat one serving of each color every day! I.e. 1 green, 1 red, 1 purple, 1 white, 1 orange
- Make a list of colorful fruits and veggies you LIKE and prefer. We aren't here to make you eat food you don’t like!
Action: Take 5 minutes to make a list and identify 2 veggies and fruits you like in each color category! If you have another 5 minutes, think about how you can incorporate some of those into your meals this week!
Drink more hydrating fluids
Water makes up about half of who we are. Water also has important jobs in our bodies so ensuring we are properly hydrated is a good habit to increase our energy, health, vitality, and performance! Just small amounts of dehydration can have big impacts on our bodies since all our cells and bodily processes rely on water. Small amounts of dehydration put a strain on our hearts, reduce our aerobic and muscular performance as well as decrease our cognitive and mental function. A hydrated brain is a happy and healthy brain, as is the body. Here are some guidelines for improving hydration:
- Drink a glass of water with each meal
- Drink a glass of water every time you visit the sink
- Drink a glass of water first thing in the morning
- Get a reusable water bottle and keep it near you through the day, to drink 2-3 of those by the end of the day
Action: Create a hydration practice: get a water bottle at least 20oz in size and drink finish 2-3 in a day.
Extra credit action: Drink more non-caloric beverages. We likely drink lots of liquids that increase our energy intakes like sugar-sweetened juices, sugar-sweetened creamer added coffee drinks, energy drinks, alcohol, soda. Decreasing these beverages to drink more water will help us to feel better and function better.
An important way to increase our energy is to expend our energy. We are meant to move, so the more sedentary we are the more sluggish and lethargic we get. It invigorates us to move, it helps our body work better and to process food better. Here are some guidelines to get in more movement:
- Park farther away from the store. It wastes more time driving around trying to find a close parking spot than to park farther away and get in movement!
- Take the stairs. Again, it often takes more time to wait for the elevator than to simply take the stairs up to our apartment.
- Get in a 10minute walk outside in the middle of your day to get some sunshine, reset your brain and move your body.
- Identify a form of exercise that you enjoy and can consistently participate in! - Having a community is helpful for this! Find a community that will keep you accountable and that you look forward to!
- Decrease the amount of time you are sedentary and get in more nonexercise activities like laundry, cleaning your house, meal prepping, taking out the trash and recycling, taking the dogs for a walk, playing with your kids. Trade some Netflix time with more time moving but also being productive and with actions that could be getting you closer to your goals or investing time into an area of your life that is a priority.
Action: Identify ways that you can increase movement in small ways in your day such as parking further away, going for a walk, doing more chores like cleaning, taking out the trash, taking out the recycling, meal prep, laundry, walking the dogs, taking your kids for a walk, taking the stairs.
Improve sleep hygiene
Optimal sleep and rest is our top performance enhancer. Our body repairs and restores itself while we sleep, so for optimal energy for life, doing our best to set ourselves up for optimal sleep is important! Lack of sleep and rest decreases our ability to make decisions, decreases our performance and also decreases our recovery from training. Here are some guidelines to help you improve your sleep hygiene for better energy:
- Create a sleep schedule. While you can’t control when exactly you will fall asleep you can create a schedule that you will try to stick too. Studies show that consistent sleep and wake time is a very impactful way to ensure optimal sleep and recovery. Try to stick to your sleep time and wake time consistently.
- Create a pre-bed ritual to help you relax and wind down to fall asleep and sleep better. This might be turning off and putting away all electronics i.e. phones, computers, TVs, tablets an hour before you want to fall asleep. Making yourself a cup of tea to drink quietly in bed while reading a book because our brains need time to settle down. Just like you can't go from 0 - 100 your brain and body need time to go from 100-0.
Action: Create a sleep schedule to be consistent with i.e. using your iPhone bedtime setting in alarm to create a bedtime and wake up time that would provide you with 7 or 8 hours of sleep. Or create a pre-bed ritual, deciding what time phones will be away and what you will do to wind down.
Charissa is a Performance Coach, Certified Nutrition Coach, Certified Fitness Specialist, Certified Personal Trainer, and holds a B.S. in Kinesiology. She also holds an M.A. in Higher Education Administration. She is a follower of Jesus, passionate about faith, fitness, nutrition, a lifestyle of total health, meditating, learning and growing!