By Lisa Kaschmitter, Arizona State University Nutrition Student
As all areas of life get busier and busier, many Arizonans feel their energy levels waning. It can become hard to concentrate on tasks and individuals find themselves exhausted in the middle of the day. Caffeine and other quick-fix sources for this energy-roller coaster are used abundantly, but there are many solutions that can provide long-term, positive impacts to sustain adequate energy levels all day long.
Did you know energy is also known as calories? You can often find information on calories by looking at food labels. Although calories tell you the amount of energy you can expect to get from consuming a certain item, calories can differ in quality. Junk food provides very low quality calories that may give you a jolt of energy, but leave you crashing soon after, while the following 5 lifestyle tips will leave you with a balanced energy level throughout your busy day.
1. Stay Hydrated: Maintaining hydration is important for brain function and energy levels. Many people think that drinking water is the only source of hydration for the body. Although water and fluids are an important source of hydration, there are many foods that will help to keep you hydrated such as iceberg lettuce and watermelon. According to the National Academies on hydration, adult men (<19) should consume 3.7 liters of water per day from food and fluid sources, while women (<19) should consume 2.7 liters per day.
Many people do not realize that hydration is a balance of fluids and electrolytes that is optimal for the cells in our body to work correctly. Sodium, chloride, potassium, water, and inorganic sulfates all play a role in maintaining hydration levels. Sodium and chloride are often found in combination with each other, and together they make table salt. It’s easy to take in too much of each and intake levels of sodium should remain close to 1.5 grams per day for healthy adults while chloride intake levels should remain close to 2.3 grams per day, suggests The National Academies. Many prepared foods and sauces have more than the daily value of salt, so a deficiency of sodium or chloride is uncommon.
Potassium can come from many fruit and vegetable sources, as well as, meats and nuts. Bananas are often a go to food when a person has a potassium deficiency because they contain high levels of potassium (approximately 422 mg per medium banana), but avocado, spinach, and plain yogurt have high levels of potassium as well.2 It is recommended that adults have at least 4.7 grams of potassium per day as part of their diet.
Inorganic sulfate can be found in dried fruits, coconut milk, wine, bread and meats. There has been no intake recommendation issued because inorganic sulfate is abundant in water and many foods. The metabolic breakdown of these foods produces enough inorganic sulfate to maintain the proper balance for hydration, according to Women’s Health Magazine.
2. Consume B vitamins: B vitamins are a complex of 8 vitamins. These B vitamins help to synthesize energy, which means they do not directly give you energy, but they help the body to create energy from other sources, such as the carbohydrates, fats, and proteins you eat, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. B vitamins can be found within many food sources including meat, fish and dairy products, beans, and whole grains. B vitamins are water-soluble, so the body does not store them; this makes it key to intake adequate levels through food on a daily basis. Keep in mind that some B vitamins can only be found in meat or dairy products (such as B12).
3. Eat a Variety of foods: In our society of fad diets, what we “should” eat comes and goes so quickly it can be hard to discern what is important to have as part of a healthy diet. Generally dietitians and scientists agree that the best and healthiest diet is one that contains a variety of different fresh foods, according to British Nutrition Foundation. This is true of maintaining energy supplies as well. An easy way to add more variety to your diet is to add more color. Colorful foods are often fresh fruits and vegetables. These colors indicate the presence of different vitamins and minerals, so the more colors you are eating the higher the variety of vitamins and minerals you are consuming. Combining sources of carbohydrates, protein, and fats will keep your energy reserves ready for those days when you are on the go from sun up to sun down.
4. Exercise Regularly: Newton’s Law of motions tells us that: “A body at rest wants to stay at rest, while a body in motion wants to stay in motion.” The more you get your body moving, the more oxygen and nutrients that are delivered to your tissues, suggests The Mayo Clinic. This invigorates those tissues and pumps up your energy level, so get out and go on a walk, or go play a game with the kids! Time outside playing and exercising is great for the whole family and will build memories, healthy habits, and higher energy levels for the entire family.
5. Consume Vitamin D: Time outside is important to energy levels and is impacted by more than just exercise. When we spend time outside we absorb ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sunlight, according to several in the medical community that encourage outdoor play. This UV light is converted to vitamin D by our bodies. An individual’s Vitamin D level has been shown to have a significant effects on muscle function. If a person is vitamin D deficient, their muscles tire easily and quickly. Maintaining sufficient levels of vitamin D levels from more time in the sun or by eating vitamin D fortified foods, (such as milk or cereal), has been shown to decrease this muscle fatigue.
Our intake of calories, or energy, is balanced by the expenditure of energy we use each day. If these are out of balance we many feel restless or exhausted, depending on which way they balance is skewed. The liquids and foods we consume produce differing amounts of energy for us to use, but utilizing these 5 tips will help you to stay fueled all day long.