As part of the annual CKNW Health Series, this week Sonia Sunger takes a look at healthy eating habits.
Today’s topic: Energy levels.
What many may not realize is our food may be to blame for low energy levels.
Registered dietitian Karlene Karst says the top complaint patients are making to their doctors is constant fatigue.
But she says some of the foods people gravitate to for a burst of energy may actually be having the opposite effect.
To cut those crashes, Karst says it’s important to eat 30 minutes after waking.
She says it will boost our metabolism and by adding protein to breakfast our blood sugar levels will be stabilized throughout the day.
“There are so many different options and I love a smoothie in the morning. That was a game changer for me in my health about 15 years ago and I just found so much more energy. I found that I started to lose weight, especially in my mid-section. It was one of the most important things I did.”
Another important energizer is protein, Karst suggests consuming 20 grams per day. An individual egg has about six grams of protein, so she points to protein powder.
“Just add it to water or your favourite nut milkshake and go.”
Nutrition evil to nutrition hero
Karst says one of the most important things to introduce into your diet, next to protein, is “good fat.”
Some “good fats” include nuts, chia, hemp seeds, and avocado.
“That’s what so many people find is that they eat a lot of carbohydrates, they’re not feeling full enough. So we want to make sure we get some more good fat into the diet to keep us feeling satiated.”
Eating five times a day: breakfast, snack, lunch, snack dinner is how Karst recommends to bite the hunger bug.
“Each time you eat you want to make sure you have protein, good fats and fibres/carbohydrates.”
The crash and burn fatigue
While some may be nervous to introduce an overabundance of carbohydrates in their diets, Karst says the right kind will keep our blood sugars steady.
“So we get a nice slow rise in blood sugar and then slowly starts to come down and we feed ourselves again.”
Karst warns that when we deplete ourselves, we normally reach for sugar.
This perpetuates the dramatic rise and fall of our blood sugar levels, making us crave food about 30 minutes after eating.
“Overall it’s important to find really sustained nutrients throughout the day… Leafy greens give us magnesium, and magnesium is important because it’s going to help us convert all of these foods that we’re eating into energy. So it’s one of those nutrients we’re not getting enough of. Think of things that grow in the ground.”
Karst recommends people supplement magnesium in their diet as it also helps relax the body and nervous system.