WHEN THE FUEL RUNS OUT
Tiredness requires that you have fuel suppky again
There comes that point in day when tired, worn-out or drained. No more energy to carry on. At this junction, you need to refuel.
Generally reported by more women than men, sluggishness can be caused by many things. But experts say poor nutrition is a big culprit. “Food is truly our body’s fuel,” says Cindy Moore, director of nutrition therapy for The Cleveland Clinic. “What we choose as our fuel is going to absolutely impact the performance of our bodies.”
Research shows breakfast improves alertness and concentration, helps shed pounds by preventing overeating during the day, and prevents obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. To get these benefits and to prepare the body for the day, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends eating carbohydrates for energy and protein for endurance. Some quick options include:
- Whole grain bagel with cheese
- Cereal with fruit and yogurt etc.
Are you the busy type and the options above do not seem practicable, breakfast bars, frozen omelets, breakfast sandwiches, oatmeal packets, and whole grain cereals in prepackaged plastic bowls are good choices for eating on the go. Be mindful, though, of the sugar and fat content of your morning meal. A study in Pediatrics found that children who ate sugary breakfasts were hungrier and ate more at lunch.
Healthy eating shouldn’t stop with the morning meal. A well-balanced diet throughout the day is an essential source of sustained energy.
The best way to maximize the body’s potential for energy is to eat a combination of complex and simple carbohydrates. Complex carbohydrates, which are slow burning, should make up the bulk of the carbohydrates we eat, says Grotto. Whole grains and starchy vegetables such as potatoes, squash, pumpkin, and carrots fall into this category. This does not mean ignoring simple carbohydrates with a faster burn, such as those found in fruits, vegetables, carbonated drinks and honey. They can provide an immediate source of energy. Some simple sugars found in candy bars, soft drinks and cookies can provide a quick boost. However, this can bring a quick letdown…it is the principle of get in…get out.
Fat has gotten a bad rap, too, but it’s one that’s not entirely undeserved. “Bad” fats are associated with heart disease, some types of cancer, and some chronic illnesses. In order to strike the right balance, choose polyunsaturated fats such as vegetable oils and seafood and monounsaturated fats such as olive oil, nuts, and seeds. The unsaturated variety can help lower “bad” LDL cholesterol. Fats are good for your diet as they supply the body with energy.
The Mystery of Protein
Fats and carbohydrates may supply the body with energy, but protein helps regulate the release of that power. Protein maintains cells, assists in growth, transports hormones and vitamins, and preserves lean muscle mass. Muscles and many hormones are, in fact, made up of protein. You need proteins for your immune system. So replenishing your body’s source of the nutrient is very important.
Good sources of protein include meat, poultry, fish, eggs, beans, nuts, soy, and low-fat dairy products. When you eat these types of foods, your body breaks down the protein that they contain into amino acids (the building blocks of proteins). Some amino acids are essential, which means that you need to get them from your diet, and others are nonessential, which means that your body can make them.
In diets where the body does not get its usual fuel of carbohydrates and fat, protein provides the body energy.
The Power of Water
Two-thirds of your body is made up of water. Without it, you could only live a few days. The fluid helps control body temperature through sweat, moves food through the intestines, and greases the joints. It’s also an essential ingredient in the production of energy molecules. Dehydration is one of the leading causes of a lack of energy.
Water is especially important after exercise, with certain medicines, and with a high-fiber diet. Other dietary reasons for fatigue include too much alcohol (which is a depressant) and lack of certain vitamins and minerals. Low iron is a common problem for women. If you still find yourself sluggish with a well-balanced diet, then a visit to the doctor may be in order. Certain diseases, medications, stress, and inadequate sleep and exercise can contribute to fatigue