What lifestyle changes can help me have more energy?

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Lucette Talamas, RD
Nutrition & Dietetics
There are many lifestyle factors that can affect energy levels including eating patterns, amount and quality of sleep, exercise habits or if there is a lack of exercise, medications (side effects) and stress.

Focusing on eating patterns, keeping a food and fitness journal can show us typical food, beverage and lifestyle habits throughout the day in order to find areas for improvement. The following questions can help pinpoint areas to assure you are eating for energy:
  • What you are you eating? An optimal diet pattern would include eating fruits and vegetables every day, a variety of lean proteins, whole grains and low fat dairy sources. These foods provide the nutrients your body needs to stay healthy.
  • Are you eating enough calories? Food quantity can play a role in how you feel so identifying if you are eating too little or too much throughout the day.
  • What time are you eating your meals and snack? Just as important as what and how much you eat, is when you eat. Analyzing when you eat your first meal of the day (breakfast), the timing between the rest of your meals and snacks, and your exercise patterns can identify areas for improving how you feel energy-wise.
  • What are you drinking? Staying properly hydrated is important for everyone whether engaged in exercise or not. Caffeinated beverages, sugar sweetened beverages, energy drinks and alcohol could not only affect sleep quality but also how you feel in regards to your energy throughout the day.
In addition to proper eating patterns, aiming for adequate amounts of sleep and moderate intensity exercise for at least 30 minutes on most days are three lifestyle areas that when adhered to, can address energy levels
Kirsi Bhasin
Nutrition & Dietetics

Exercise is one of the absolute best ways you can improve your energy levels, as well as helping you out in pretty much every other aspect of your health. Even moderate levels of exercise can have a profound effect on your energy levels. Over time, continued exercise increases your lung capacity, allowing for more oxygen to be delivered to your brain and blood stream, making you feel more awake and alert. Exercise also facilitates circulation, bringing more oxygen to your muscles and allowing for increased functioning throughout your body and heightened energy production.

 

Another great lifestyle change you can make to have more energy is eating the right kinds of foods, at the right times. They’re not kidding when they say breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Eating a nutritious breakfast within an hour of waking up helps kick-start your metabolism and will keep you going several hours into the day. It’s good to incorporate protein and healthy fats into your breakfast, which will keep you full and focused for longer. Eating five small meals a day is also a good way to keep yourself going, rather than three larger ones. Choosing natural, nutritious foods rather than overly processed junk foods will also help improve energy. Feeding your body right, at the right times, is essential to maintaining healthy energy levels.

 

Of course, getting enough sleep is perhaps the best way to have more energy. Aside from the obvious side effect of exhaustion, sleep deprivation can lead to weight gain, cognitive deficits, and a whole host of other health complications that you definitely do not want. The average adult requires between seven and nine hours of sleep a night, so make getting adequate sleep as high a priority (if not higher) than whatever you’re staying up late to do, and get some rest!

Julie Upton
Nutrition & Dietetics
Most sedentary people lack energy. Make sure you have daily physical activity. Setting a goal of 45 minutes to an hour of exercise most days a week can help with all-day energy.

People who skip meals often lack energy. People whose meals aren’t balanced -- maybe too high in carbohydrates and snack-type foods -- don’t have long-lasting energy. Always have protein and fiber with your meals and snacks because they slow down the rate of digestion, keeping you fuller longer and keeping energy levels higher or more stable than if you eat junk food. Foods like sodas, candies, and sweets are full of sugar, which is 100% energy but is really short-lived.

I suggest breakfast, lunch, dinner, and a midmorning and midafternoon snack. A normalized eating pattern is best for maintaining healthy weight and energy levels. Try to eat every three hours, and don’t eat at all after dinner. There’s no reason to fuel up to go to bed.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.