11 Food and health tips to boost your energy

Food is fuel. What you put into your body determines how much energy you get back out of it. If you...

Food is fuel. What you put into your body determines how much energy you get back out of it. If you feel like napping most afternoons, it's time to overhaul your food and health habits. Ready to feel better, have more energy and maybe even lose a few pounds? Here are 11 ways to reduce fatigue through diet and exercise.

1. Start with stretching
After you wake up in the morning, do 10 to 30 minutes of stretching. Yoga, Tai Chi, swimming and aerobics are great ways to get your blood flowing, clear your sinuses and feel more awake. Plus, morning exercise that elevates your heart rate and makes you sweat boosts your metabolism, so you'll burn more calories, quicker.

2. Ditch the soda
If you reach for a bottle of soda for breakfast, it's time for an intervention. The sugar in soda gives you a false sense of energy. When the sugar-high wears off, you'll be feeling more tired than before. Instead, pair a cup of antioxidant-rich green tea or vitamin-packed fruit juice with a healthy breakfast.

3. Choose whole foods
All apples aren't created equal. You'll get more vitamins and nutrients out of a whole, fresh apple than you will from an equal amount of applesauce or apple juice. Processing, heating, cooking and manipulating fresh produce lowers the nutrient value, so you get less energy-boosting vitamins and minerals. Add whole, raw fruits, vegetables and nuts to your meals.

4. Do easy exercises
You don't have to have a gym membership or join an aerobics class to benefit from exercise. To save money, take a walk around your neighborhood, shopping center or local high school track. Walking is less jarring on your joints than most exercises and gives you energy to make it through the rest of the day.

5. Skip the sweets
Although deserts are a fun way to end a meal, pass on sweets at least a few days a week. The extra calories, sugar and fats in cakes, cookies and ice cream can make you feel sluggish and tired. Food and health truly do go hand-in-hand. The lack of nutrients in desserts translates to a lack of energy. Instead, satisfy your sweet tooth with a piece of fruit.

6. Eat several small meals
When your body digests a large meal, you get drowsy. To avoid this, keep your metabolism active by eating several small meals throughout the day. This grazing style of eating also stabilizes your blood sugars so you don't get that post-lunch drowsy feeling.

7. Do forced exercise
If you drive around Atlanta, park at the back of public parking lots. This forces you to walk further to the building. Once inside, consider taking the stairs in lieu of elevators and skipping the free cookies and cocoa offered in the lobby of some businesses. The boost in movement will increase your overall energy.

8. Practice portion control
Just because it's on your plate doesn't mean you have to eat it. Talk with your doctor about proper portion sizes and daily caloric intake for your age and level of health. Most people simply eat too much--even of healthy foods. Overeating can make you feel fatigued and gain extra weight.

9. Drink more water
If you can't remember the last time you drank a glass of plain, clear water, you need to get more into your diet. Water flushes toxins out of the body, aids in digestion and helps you feel full so you don't snack between meals. Jazz up your next glass of water by adding a lemon wedge or ice cubes made of orange juice to add a splash of flavor to the drink.

10. Choose vitamin-packed foods
Take a close look at your favorite meals. They should contain several colors of the rainbow. (And, no golden-fried batters don't count!) The more colorful your meal, the more energy-boosting vitamins and minerals you're fueling your body with. Processed foods--such as white bread, white sugar and white rice--offer little nutrition. Instead reach for whole grain wheat bread, brown rice and use raw honey as a sweetener.

11. Lose weight
The more weight you have to carry around, the more tired you will feel. Talk with your physician about your ideal weight range. Losing weight also decreases chances of other health issues, such as sore joints, diabetes and heart problems.

Can't shake your exhaustion? It's time to talk with a doctor in Atlanta. Extreme fatigue that doesn't subside with an improvement in diet and increase in exercise is a warning symptom of several health conditions.

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