Eating for Energy
Healthy eating is the cornerstone to success at work, home, and in the gym. Your body needs energy to keep going, just as your car needs fuel to drive. The food you eat gives you that energy — the physical and mental stamina you need to make it through your day.
Energy comes from 3 nutrients: carbs, fat, and protein. After you eat, these nutrients are released into your bloodstream and converted to glucose, or blood sugar — the energy you need to power your body’s work. Energy you don’t use right away is stored as glycogen in your liver and muscles for quick release or as fat for possible use later.
Fruits and vegetables contain complex carbs — your body’s preferred fuel source. If you don’t eat enough carbs, your muscles will feel chronically fatigued.
You need 45%-65% of your calories as carbs — which fits perfectly with a plan to eat 5-9 servings of fruits and vegetables a day.
Morning Energy Boost
After 8-12 hours without food, your body needs to replenish blood sugar levels — your brain needs a fresh supply of glucose. And sustained mental work requires a large turnover of glucose in the brain. It’s been shown that breakfast eaters are less tired as well as better able to concentrate and solve problems than those who skip breakfast. Perfect produce to round out your breakfast includes berries, peaches, bananas, and 100% vegetable or fruit juices.
When you exercise, it takes 20 hours to fully restore depleted muscles. You’ll need carb-rich foods and drinks within the first 2 hours after exercise — the sooner the better — to help prevent fatigue and burnout. Fruits and juices are great recovery foods.
If you exercise for prolonged periods you probably know that what you eat before your session can affect performance. But did you know the type of carb can make a difference? Moderate and low glycemic index carbs enter the bloodstream slowly and are best eaten before exercise to keep you going longer. High glycemic index carbs enter the bloodstream quickly, and are best eaten during or after exercise.
When you sweat you lose potassium, sodium, and calcium — electrolytes that help you maintain normal water balance in your body. Except elite athletes, we tend to get enough sodium from daily food, but you probably need to replace the potassium you lose. The best way to do that is with vegetables and fruits — baked potatoes, bananas, orange juice, pineapple juice, and raisins are all good sources. Dairy products are the best means to replace the calcium, but turnip greens, dried figs, mustard greens, and okra also supply small amounts.