Robin Berzin MD is a functional medicine physician and the founder of Parsley Health. Her mission is to make functional medicine affordable and modern, so that more people can access this holistic, root-cause approach to health. Dr. Berzin guest-wrote today’s post. We hope you enjoy it!
If there’s one thing most of us wouldn’t turn down, it’s more energy. We all want to show up everyday and conquer our to-do list. We all want to stand in our power and to feel alive. When we’re low on energy, we walk around feeling defeated and frustrated.
The good news is that cultivating more energy is always possible. And the best place to start is with the food on your plate.
Here are 5 ways to increase your energy by the food choices you make.
1. Increase vegetable intake, especially leafy greens
Leafy greens are loaded with vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients, and most of us don’t eat enough. Greens help to improve circulation, support a healthy gut and metabolism, and strengthen the immune system. This powerhouse food group includes Swiss chard, kale, collard greens, spinach, bok choy, mustard greens, arugula and dandelion greens.
TIP: Prep your greens on a Sunday to use throughout the week. Buying pre-washed greens counts!
2. Be sugar savvy
Sugar has the addictive power of cocaine (yikes!); the more you have, the more you want. It gives the body that burst of energy you may be looking for, but too much can send you into a blood sugar crash, leaving you feeling sluggish. To sustain and improve your energy level, it is essential to limit sugar and artificial sweeteners, which can both lead to sweet cravings and weight gain.
TIP: To overcome strong sugar cravings, incorporate more sweet vegetables into your diet, such as sweet potatoes, squash, carrots and beets. Use natural sweeteners in moderation such as fruit, raw & local honey, and real maple syrup.
3. Eat more healthy fats
Fats provide slow-burning fuel that helps to stabilize your blood sugar and sustain your energy. Many of us have been brainwashed to think that fat makes us fat, but the truth is fats support healthy metabolism, reduce cravings, and help keep us fuller, longer.
TIP: Whenever possible, include healthy fats in your snacks and meals, such as:
• Nuts and nut butters – Cinn-sational (cinnamon-spiced apples and almonds) is great for this!
• Seeds, such as pumpkin and sunflower
• Oils such as olive, sunflower and coconut
• Fatty fish and grass fed meat
4. Get more high quality protein
Protein is the primary building block for our cells, and it supplies the body with amino acids to stabilize blood sugar and reduce cravings. Although recommendations regarding optimal protein intake can vary, the more active you are, the more protein you need – plant or animal based. At Parsley, we recommend at least 20 grams of protein per meal and for very physically active people, 1 gram per pound of body weight daily.
TIP: Include high quality protein-rich foods in your daily diet, such as:
• Fatty fish and shellfish
• Chicken and turkey
• Grass-fed meat
• Nuts and seeds
• If vegetarian, legumes and protein-rich grains such as quinoa and millet
• Have trouble fitting it in? Try a high quality protein powder to use in a morning shake or for a snack.
5. Minimize empty carbs
Carbohydrates are quick-burning fuel for your body. The energy from refined carbohydrates such as bagels, bread, crackers, cookies and pretzels burn too quickly, leaving you hungry and often tired from the metabolic ups and downs they put your body through.
If you’re eating a diet rich in vegetables and fruits, you’re getting the carbohydrates your body needs. Whole grains, beans, starchy vegetables (corn, peas) and tubers, (potatoes, yams), are rich in carbohydrates. Although they provide healthy nutrients and fiber, they may still need to be limited depending upon your individual energy needs.
TIP: Cut back on refined carbs for one week to see if you notice any changes in your energy.
So there you have it! Five simple ways to boost your energy, starting with the food you eat every day.