Tips for Energizing Your Busy Lifestyle

Feeling sluggish? Need an energy boost? The foods you consume have a huge impact on how alert you feel, how much focus you have, and how energetic you are throughout the day. 

One of the biggest factors in how foods affect your body is their glycemic index. The higher the glycemic index (GI) of a food, the more variance in your blood sugar and the more your energy levels will fluctuate. Low GI foods maintain a much steadier blood sugar level and – you guessed it – much steadier energy. 

You may find that certain foods that provide quick bursts of energy inevitably lead to a kind of “crash.” Because they are easy to break down, your body digests simple carbohydrates (high GI foods) found in white flour, breakfast cereals, candy, fruit juices, and soda quickly, causing the blood sugar levels to spike. And what goes up quickly, comes down quickly – or crashes.  

Choose energy-boosting foods 

When choosing foods to energize your body, think marathon over sprint and you’ll notice a huge difference. Complex carbohydrates, healthy fats, quality protein, and high fiber content slow digestion, increase satiety, and are typically low GI. B vitamins are also key for high energy. Here are some quality examples: 

  • Whole grains are a complete complex carbohydrate source. They are high in fiber, B vitamins, phytochemicals, and healthy fats. Examples are oats, brown rice, barley, and whole wheat pasta. 
  • Eggs are nutrient powerhouses! They are rich in leucine, an essential amino acid that helps with energy use and muscle recovery, and choline, an essential nutrient for central nervous system function. High in protein (6 grams) and low in calories (only 70), eggs make a perfect foundation for a healthy meal or snack. 
  • Greek yogurt (or other whole fat dairy) contains more protein and less sugar than its lower fat counterparts. Studies have shown that consuming higher amounts of protein can improve the regulation of energy intake. It also helps regulate appetite. Replace sour cream and mayo with Greek yogurt in recipes. 
  • Lean meats, such as chicken and turkey, are high in easily absorbed protein and iron, which specifically helps to transport blood cells throughout the body. There are few foods higher in B vitamins than animal protein and contain high amounts of magnesium, which helps cells make energy. 
  • Beans provide high amounts of protein, soluble fiber, and magnesium. They serve as a great plant-based protein option for vegetarians and vegans. Add them to soups, whole grain pasta dishes, or any salad. 
  • Chia seeds and flaxseeds are quality sources of omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, and plant-based protein. Healthy fats like omega-3s are key to many functions in the body and help burn more calories throughout the day. Add a couple tablespoons to your smoothie or oatmeal. 
  • Berries, dates, pineapples, and apricots are all considered low GI fruits – perfect to satisfy a sweet craving without being high in calories. 

Don’t forget the impact of adequate exercise, sleep, and hydration 

Physical activity releases brain chemicals that lift the mood, lessen stress, and increase endurance. The Department of Health and Human Services recommends 150 minutes of moderate intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity exercise per week. They also recommend strength training at least two times per week. 

Not getting enough sleep is far too common in adults. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends seven hours per night. Some tips for a better night’s rest are regular exercise, limiting daily consumption of caffeine, avoiding caffeine at least five to six hours prior to bed, and not eating at least two hours before bedtime. 

Dehydration contributes to lower energy levels in a big way because water is necessary for many bodily processes. Every day, women generally need a minimum of 72 ounces and men need a minimum of 96 ounces. That minimum increases with climate, high-fiber intake, physical activity, and caffeine and alcohol consumption.

We all have those days where we wish that we could just have enough energy to do a little more. These tips can really energize your body to face a busy lifestyle as a parent, grandparent, newlywed or single person.

Written by Amanda Rohwedder,, for Family Foundations.