Energy levels rise and fall throughout the day. What you put into your body has a huge role in the energy roller coaster. If you’re looking to keep your energy steady during the day, get better sleep at night, and improve your quality of life, check out our list of foods to stay away from on your next grocery trip.
White bread and other high-processed grains
Grains are rich in carbohydrates and a great source of energy, except when those grains are processed. Processed grains are often used for white bread, pasta, and rice and contain lower levels of fiber. Why? The fiber-heavy outer layer of the grain, known as bran, is removed during processing, making food easier to digest and absorb. Meals containing processed grains create a quick rise in blood sugar, followed by a swift drop in energy levels.
If you can opt for whole grains, do it! Whole grains regulate blood sugar levels and keep energy constant throughout the day.
Alcohol is a depressant known for its relaxing effects. If you ever had a glass (or four) at night to help you fall asleep later, it might be doing your sleep cycle more harm than good. Alcohol decreases the most important stage of sleep: REM (Rapid Eye Movement sleep is when your brain is most active). Decreased REM sleep has been associated with higher levels of stress and anxiety, as well as daytime sleepiness. Alcohol affecting sleep only applies to those consuming alcohol more than twice a week. If this sounds like you, maybe its time to make a lifestyle change.
This one might be a given, but those french fries might be the thing keeping you up at night. Fried food is generally high in fat and low in fiber. Both those factors slow down digestion and reduce the speed in which energy-boosting nutrients enter your body. Fried foods also tend to be low in nutrients that help maintain energy levels. Staying away from fried foods will not only increase your sleep but your quality of life as well.
Hear us out. Most of us can’t start our day without a hot cup of caffeine-filled coffee. It’s the thing we look forward to most in our day. When consumed in moderation, it can have positive physical and mental effects! Caffeine is a powerful stimulant that can create a short-term boost in energy and brain function. Caffeine also blocks the hormone adenosine, which makes us tired. When that caffeine wears off, we are left with high levels of adenosine making us sleepy. To decrease your chances of poor sleep, limit your coffee intake to about 4 cups of coffee or 400 mg of caffeine a day.
Here’s another reason to limit meat consumption! Red meat contains high amounts of tryptophan, an amino acid that makes serotonin and melatonin. If you’re not able to digest red meat properly, it can lead to an imbalanced gut and increased inflammation, which in turn can cause bad sleep. If you’re going to eat meat, make sure to pair it with a salad, veggies, or other fiber-filled foods.
A few more tips:
- Don’t skip breakfast
- Make sure you’re drinking enough water (8 cups plus daily)
- Check your iron
- Make sure you’re getting enough B12 (fruits, veggies, whole grains and fish all help avoid a B12 vitamin deficiency)
If some of the foods listed above are your favorites, keep them! Just remember: eat everything in moderation. A good rule to follow if your currently on the maintenance period of the Pure 21 Wellness Challenge is the 80/20 rule. Eat nutritious and nourishing food 80% of the time and enjoy indulgent food 20% of the time. Get the best of both worlds while eating healthy and increasing energy.