Most of us who struggle with low energy lead busy lives. And fueling up with the right foods, instead of caffeine and comfort foods, is easier said than done. A double shot and a donut might be enough to tempt us out of bed and into a hectic day, but what fatigued bodies actually need is the kind of good nutrition that reduces cravings for addictive foods.
We’re laying out plans for the energy diet, a full day’s plan focused on sustained energy. Here’s what we recommend upon waking and straight through to that midnight snack for better energy, more focus, glowing skin and overall health. Take a few pointers, then grab our recipe for easy overnight oats – the perfect way to get any morning started…
The Energy Diet: How To Eat To Beat That Afternoon Slump
Start With Lemon Water
To kick our bodies into gear, start off the day with a warm glass of water with fresh squeezed lemon juice before you consume anything else. Not only does this drink help to cleanse the gastrointestinal system, initiate peristalsis and rid the body of wastes, but it is incredibly alkalizing and helps to balance pH as energize your body.
Brain Food For Breakfast
What we eat first thing that sets the tone for the entire day, and if we aren’t fueling our tanks correctly, we are setting ourselves up for cravings and poor food choices later in the day.
Think of breakfast like brain food. Everyone works a little differently – for some a carbohydrate-heavy meal is the fuel needed to satiate and energize the body for the entire day. For others, a lighter protein-packed meal keeps energy high till lunch.
Whatever your preference, a bowl of overnight oats (recipe below!) is a perfect balance of both worlds. It’s super easy to make by literally dumping in and stirring ingredients the night before and it’s loaded with superfood ingredients like collagen protein, green powder and probiotics to energize the whole body. In addition the process of fermenting the oats overnight helps the body to assimilate more of their nutrients – win, win.
While coffee is the first thing most people reach for in the morning, it is actually much easier on the stomach if we drink it after a meal as a digestive aid. This will help to cut back on some of the negative jittery and acidifying effects it can produce.
Of course, coffee may not be the best choice for everyone. For some it can be far too stimulating or create an unfocused energy, but a few solutions for this: A low acidity coffee brand may create less of these negative effects while providing lasting energy without the crash. Also, the growing trend of bulletproofing your coffee by adding ghee or coconut oil, helps to add a grounding, nourishing and even superfood quality that helps to reduce any crash or jitters.
But who says your morning energy drink has to come from coffee, let alone caffeine? One of our favorite beverages to make are tonics packed with our favorite energizing tonic superfoods of the moment such as ashwagandha, he shou wu and chaga. Mixed with a little nut milk, coconut oil or ghee and herbal tea and you have a warming and comforting beverage equivalent to a 5 hour energy boost with benefits.
Whether you have the morning lulls or need to refuel post-workout, we try to wedge as much chlorophyll-packed energy as we can early in the day. Greens are one of the best sources of energy, loaded with vitamins C, K, folate and minerals like calcium and magnesium, and the more condensed you can stomach them the better. Whether all you need is boost from a wheatgrass shot, a green juice or a re-energizing recovery smoothie, make sure those greens are fresh and organic if possible.
Smoothies are one of the best vehicles for dark leafy greens because the liquified format helps us digest them much easier and allows our bodies to absorb more of their nutrients. Adding some fat to your smoothies in the form of coconut oil, coconut butter or avocado may also allow the fat soluble vitamins to be absorbed more easily.
A Satisfying Salad for Lunch
Salads are typically our go-to lunch. Many argue that a salad just isn’t filling enough, causing cravings soon after the meal is over. To that we must say, those people are not be picturing the salad on our plates.
Obviously the base to our salads are comprised of greens, but that doesn’t have to mean boring. One pound of lettuce (that’s a lot of lettuce!) is approximately 100 calories – not nearly enough for a meal. Even if we were to make a salad made of the whole one pound of greens (which we sometimes do), we don’t have the bowl big enough to contain it or a lunch break long enough to chew through it.
Instead the key is to mix up low calorie foods with more nutrient dense ones. In addition to greens we’re adding sprouts, fresh herbs, avocado, chopped seasonal veggies, spirulina and our beloved superfood salad sprinkle. Add a choice of additional protein like tempeh or wild salmon and top it off with a great dressing made from a base of omega 3 rich hemp seed oil, apple cider vinegar and lemon, and we’ve got a meal that crunches, satisfies and fuels us till dinner.
Simple Snacks for Energy
We’re not big on snacking, but sometimes that late afternoon energy lull just begs for a pick-me-up. Instead of reaching for the snack mix or chips, try a simple piece of fruit or some veggies and hummus, both of which will actually energize you through the rest of your workday rather than bringing on food-induced coma. If it’s the texture or flavor of chips that you’re craving, all it takes is a little seasoning to transform a simple apple into a dressed up cinnamon, turmeric seasoned snack with an almond butter honey drizzle.
If you’re a chocolate addict like we are, mid-day is the time to indulge this craving. The theobromine in cacao has a caffeine-like energizing effect, and the phenethylamine (PEA), anandamide and other nutrients aid in making it wonderful for the body and mind. Seek out a brand that combines unrefined sugars and organic cacao beans, like these.
If you’re energy is still waning, try a cup of antioxidant-rich and alkalizing matcha instead of reaching for another coffee. Alternatively, a tea-based kombucha or other probiotic beverage like coconut water kefir may also help to energize you and replace that second cup of coffee.
Don’t forget that water! A lack of energy as well as craving can stem from dehydration, so fuel up with a high-quality source of water throughout the day.
We aim to eat an early dinner, at least 2 or 3 hours before we hit the hay. Allowing plenty of time to digest before bed means a healthier, happier and more efficient digestion. Heavy or late meals create stagnant food in the digestive tract which can fuel yeasts, slow metabolism, affect the mood and lead to bloat and weight gain.
Aim to make dinner a smaller meal. We like to make ours veggie-focused: try creating a sautéed stir fry of in-season produce served over cooked whole grains, kimchi and topped with a spread or sauce made from miso and tahini.
It’s always nice to pair dinner with a glass of wine, but too much liquid and cold beverages can dilute the digestive juices. As a rule of thumb, it’s best to drink beverages between meals for optimal digestion (unless it’s warm tea sipped between bites, which can actually help us digest).
Sip Your Dessert
A little dessert never hurt anyone (even if we do try to keep our sugar intake to a minimum), but chocolate is best suited during the day because of its energizing effects. If we are really craving something sweet to complete our meal we opt for a warm and soothing herbal tea with a little honey blended with some nut milk or coconut butter.
Energizing Overnight Oats
1 cup of gluten-free rolled oats
1 1/2 cup of organic goat kefir or dairy-free yogurt
1 small handful of dried mulberries or other dried fruit (optional)
1 Tablespoon green powder
1 Tablespoon tocotrienols
1 Tablespoon collagen protein powder
1 teaspoon chia seeds (optional)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 pinch of sea salt
1 pinch of stevia or raw honey to taste
Simply combine all ingredients in a glass jar with tight fitting lid and stir until well combined.
Store tightly sealed on the counter at room temperature or in the fridge overnight. In the morning ingredients will have softened and will be ready to eat. Choose to consume at room temperature, cold, or warmed slightly in a pot on the stove on low heat.