Some days. You know the ones - those groggy “my bed feels extra good, do i really have to leave it?” days. The good news is that when you start having one of those day, you don’t have to load yourself onto the struggle bus and hope for the best. You can set yourself up to have the best day possible - which may not be your Best. Day. Ever. - but it could be a heck of a lot better than just schlepping through the day hating the world.
Here’s my routine for setting myself up for a better outcome. Sure, this is probably what we should be doing EVERY day, but I try to be extra diligent on the days where it matters most.
We’re going to break it down into two parts. The nutrition side of things (with a focus of fueling our bodies and balancing our blood sugar) and then the lifestyle side of things (cueing our sleep/wake cycle and setting the stage for an awesome slumber)
Wake up: Warm Water with Lemon
Sip some warm water, bonus points for adding a squeeze of lemon! Warm water gently wakes our bodies up, rehydrates us, and gets our digestion primed for the day.
Breakfast: Protein over Carbs!
Choose protein over carbs to start your day! Any carbs or sugars you consume first thing are going to be processed quickly, spike your blood sugar, and leave you crashing hard mid-morning. It will also be stored as energy (ie: body fat), rather than burned. Protein will actually burn and fuel your body through the morning. There are a billion make-ahead high protein breakfast options (clue: search pinterest) but if I haven’t done my prep-work, I reach for a clean protein powder that I can simply add water or almond/milk to, shake up, and drink right away.
Beverage of choice: Permission to get your Buzz on!
I like tea, I like matcha, but my love affair with coffee is deep and everlasting. When you stabilize your system with breakfast in the morning, a dose of caffeine doesn't wreck your system! Not only that, but coffee contains antioxidants that help neutralize any negative chemicals (mycotoxins) that might be be in the beans. Opting for organic, fresh not-decaffinated beans will decrease your toxin exposure. If you’re a Steepster, opting for organic tea is going to go a long way in avoiding toxins, as well.
Work: Hydration is Key!
Fill up a big glass or water bottle with water and sip until your mid-morning snack. Hydration is a huge key to energy - so aim to get at least half your body weight in ounces of water each day. That means if you’re 160lbs, you’re going to try to get at least 80oz water.
Mid-AM snack: Like Breakfast, Part Deux
Ideally, you want to take time for a mid-morning snack containing that trifecta of protein, healthy fat, and complex carb. It fuels you so you’re less apt to overeat at lunch. I like to keep with the breakfast theme and choose full-fat greek yogurt with some cut up fruit, a drizzle of raw honey or maple syrup, and a dash of cinnamon to enhance the sweetness (cinnamon can also help stabilize blood sugar!) Also, this is a good time to refill your water bottle, because it’s empty now, right?
Lunch: The Perfect Balance
Lunch at work can be tricky. What to eat that won’t put you to sleep (I’m looking at you, chipotle burrito) or leave you starving 2 hours later (yes, that’s you kelp noodle salad). The answer? Again, the triple combo of protein/complex carb/healthy fat fuels you (protein), fills you (complex carb), and leaves you feeling satisfied (healthy fat). Refill your water bottle and pop out for a quick walk around the block if you can.
Mid-PM snack: Avoid the crash!
Ohh, you could probably use a quick stretch and walk around the office. Refill your water bottle and make yourself a snack to keep you going until dinner. Again, this is going to keep you from gobbling everything in sight once you’re out of work. A handful of nuts, nut butter with apple slices, avocado toast (avocado sweet-potato toast?!), hummus and veggies…you’re owning this snack game now!
Dinner: Rest & Digest
Ooh, this is ideally timed to be at least two hours before your usual bedtime. You want your body to digest before you dive into bed, otherwise you’ve just fueled your body to….lay around. Mind that your dinner is balanced & satisfying but pay attention to "fullness" clues. It feels soooo good to relax after a long day, that I often find myself indulging in a larger portion than I really need.
Dessert: Treat Yo'Self! (sometimes)
YASS! Some nights I love me some dessert. Eating it within 30 minutes or so of finishing dinner is like putting a caboose on the end of your dinner train. It gets digested along with your main course, so it’s less likely to spike your blood sugar and stress your system. Just make sure you treat your desserts as actual treats - rather than an every night habit.
So there you have it! - Nutrition to optimize your energy Every. Single. Day.
Want the TL;DR version?
√ Hydrate all day with filtered water. A good starting point is half your weight (lbs) in ounces.
√ Trifecta = Protein/Healthy Fat/Complex Carb - For every meal and snack
√ Eat your snacks and meals at the same time everyday, if possible
√ Eat dinner at least 2 hours before you get ready for bed, if possible
√ Dessert is okay, when its treated like a treat. Eating it shortly after dinner helps keep your blood sugar steady.
Stay tuned for my next post! We’ll chat about the EASY DAILY HABITS that get you that much closer to being the next Energizer bunny (or at least get you out of zombie mode).