Try these easy tips to lose weight, gain energy and be more productive
Your brain is hungry. It requires more energy than any other organ in your body, sucking up 20 percent of your entire body’s daily energy needs. And if you want your brain firing on all cylinders, you need to fuel it properly, much like a car’s engine needs quality gas for peak performance.
So what should you be eating and how much? Good question. Today we are bombarded by so much nutrition guidance that it is easy to get confused about what is best for our bodies and minds. Information overload can lead us to jumping on bandwagons: butter in your coffee, keto, paleo, intermittent fasting, the carnivore diet (yes, you eat exclusively meat!), a calorie-restricted diet, it goes on and on.
The problem with these plans is that they can distract us from understanding what works for us as individuals. In other words, not what works for your friend or your mother, but what works for you. Your brain, your body. What we put in our bodies not only affects how we feel or what we look like, but it also affects how we work. Below are 5 tips to help you figure out what works best for you, allowing you to think and eat your way through a more productive, energetic and healthier day.
1. Eat breakfast.
While it may be tempting to skip breakfast because you are rushed, trying to lose weight or trying to follow an intermittent fasting plan, studies show that intermittent fasting decreases alertness and productivity. But drop the muffin! A high-carb sugary breakfast will only put you in a slump. Find an in-between and be sure to include some protein, fat and something low in carbs and sugar, such as these breakfast suggestions, or some healthy on-the-go options like Chia Pod Oats.
2. Not all smoothies are created equal.
Many people feel they are being healthy by ordering a smoothie from a chain smoothie shop, picking up a pre-packaged protein shake at a convenience store or quickly whipping up a blender full of bananas, peanut butter and powders. The trouble is that most of these smoothies are actually loaded with calories, carbs and sugar. Such smoothies make you crash at work and lead to weight gain. Instead, try more low-glycemic foods. Mix some avocado into a shake or try a delicious and simple Fab Four recipe from celeb nutritionist and health consultant Kelly LeVeque. The dark chocolate sea salt is one of my personal favorites.
3. Take a chance on something new.
Many of us eat out of habit or what our western diet prescribes for us. But instead of pancakes, what if you ate something with proven health benefits? I personally took a chance and started eating “breakfast salads” because yes, they do exist. My breakfast salads consist of eggs and vegetables over greens like arugula, kale or spinach. I encourage you to try it and use your favorite spices, hot sauces or clean salad dressings. Preparation is pretty simple and if you’re on the go, any natural foods market usually has a salad bar that you can use to experiment. Another food I took a chance on is bone broth. Rarely do I crave bone broth (unless I’m sick!), but I began to drink it mid-day and mid-afternoon, and it truly changed my energy levels and helped my overall immunity. But again, these are some ideas that worked for me. Take a chance on some of these ingredients that the Mayo Clinic says will boost your memory powers.
4. Keep it simple.
You don’t need to spend hours in the kitchen to have a healthier eating regime. You just need to do a little planning. I eat many of the same foods during the week, so I stock my fridge (or the work fridge) with key essentials such as spinach, eggs, avocados, nuts and seeds, lean cuts of meat, fish, jerky snacks, almonds and blueberries. Your list may be slightly different but plan to have ingredients on hand that work for you. If you are short on time in the morning, take some time to prep some things the evening before which can be as simple as boiling some eggs or whipping together overnight oats — convenient and filling — which can be packed in a mason jar and taken to the office. Repeat delivery options with Amazon make it that much easier to have ingredients on hand, and resources such as Max Lugavere’s book Genius Foods can help guide you.
5. Avoid too much coffee.
Caffeine is a stimulant that helps 85 percent of Americans be more alert and focused during the day. But too much caffeine and not enough water could affect productivity by making you too jittery and triggering an afternoon energy crash. Drink your coffee with intention as opposed to just refilling cup and after cup, and prioritize proper hydration which we all know is crucial for productivity and optimum health. Also, while cold brew is delicious, be mindful of the caffeine and sugar in these trendy beverages. If you are up for taking a chance, try matcha green tea, functional mushroom coffee or turmeric lattes.
Forget diet plans, listen to your body.
Don’t be afraid to experiment, follow your intuition and most importantly, listen to your body and how it responds after you nourish it. What works for me will be different than what works for you, and what works for many successful entrepreneurs like Richard Branson and Jack Dorsey. There’s no need to be strict or follow a “diet,” rather be mindful and sensible. And if you find yourself eating purely out of boredom or anxiety, try my hack which is to suck on low sugar lollipops or gummies rather than reaching for the office tray of baked goods or something that will leave you feeling sluggish and low on energy. I wish you sweet success! (Article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com.)