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Staying energized all day long...the healthy way

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We live in a culture of fact we claim busyness as a badge! In a world of saying 'yes' to everything, no wonder everyone is so tired. Of course we'd all love to sleep 8 hours a night, but hey, let's be honest, 8 hours is a DREAM for most folks. So, what is our plan b to get through the day? Insert caffeine! Lattes, tea, and soda help us push through. Though coffee and tea have proven health benefits, they still may not be the best prescription. I could go on and on about the ways soft drinks can negatively impact your health. But the real potential for danger lies within energy drinks.

Energy drinks are technically sold as dietary supplements, which means they can forego nutrition labels. No label means we have absolutely NO idea what's in them. Scary! Even scarier, energy drink manufacturers aren't even required to disclose how much caffeine is actually in the drink.

Technically, it is safe for most adults to consume 400 mg of caffeine a day. (For reference, 1 cup of coffee has about 80 mg.) But instead of turning to a mystery energy drinks or another high calorie, high sugar fancy coffee drink, why not try a new concept: eating for energy!

Nutritionally speaking, here are three things to focus on to help you stay energized all day long:

Complex Carbs - The brain and central nervous system's preferred energy source is glucose. Glucose is found in carbohydrates like fruit, whole grain pastas, cereal, bread, beans, potatoes, and rice. The dietary guidelines recommend that 45-65% of you total calorie intake come from carbs. Carbohydrates can be simple or complex. Simple carbs are things like candy, cake, donuts, white bread, white rice, and baked goods. Complex carbs have more nutrition and fiber. Think fruits, vegetables, beans, potatoes, whole wheat pasta, whole wheat bread, milk and yogurt. Always choose complex carbs over simple and be sure to spread your carb intake evenly throughout the day.

Magnesium - Did you know magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral in the body? In fact, magnesium is needed for over 300 chemical and enzymatic processes. This mineral helps you take energy from food and turn it into new proteins. It also helps keep your bones, muscles, and nerves healthy. Deficiency can lead to fatigue, headaches, anxiety and more. The best sources of magnesium are green leafy vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, fish, and whole grains. Aim for 3 servings of dark greens a week and a serving (1/4 cup) of raw nuts daily.

Water - want more energy? Be sure you are drinking your water! Not enough fluid can lead to fatigue and headaches. Drinking a cup of water can easily reverse these symptoms. Aim for ½ to 1 cup every hour. An added bonus: you have to get up and go to the bathroom. So hooray for extra steps!

Here are some other energizing snack ideas:

  • ¼ cup almonds with ¼ cup dried fruit
  • ½ banana with 1 tbsp of peanut butter
  • Small apple with 1 ounce low fat cheese
  • 5 whole grain crackers with 1 ounce low fat cheese or hummus
  • ½ sandwich on whole grain bread
  • 3 cups light, microwaved popcorn
  • ½ cup berries with ¼ cup walnuts

Looking for more healthy meals? Check out our Recipe Box here!