WEEK 2: DIET RIGHT
Nutrition experts don’t always agree, but a near consensus about food and energy is emerging: Eat an anti-inflammatory diet. Doing so can help your cells function more efficiently, making you feel less sluggish. Andrew Weil, M.D., director of the Center for Integrative Medicine of the College of Medicine at the University of Arizona in Tucson, has even created an “Anti-Inflammatory Food Pyramid” that illustrates how to best balance blood sugar and insulin levels (a key component in inflammation). Like most sensible diets, it recommends plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats and fish. In addition to making those foods a priority this week, get revved with the following dietary directives.
DAY 1: Analyze your eating. Many people have no idea what they’re eating or how it’s affecting their energy levels. So track the what, why, when and how of every bite (and sip) in your journal. If you’re skipping meals, eat every few hours for more sustained energy. If you’re stuffing yourself, strive for better portion control to prevent fullness-fueled fatigue. If all your meals come from a box or can, it’s time to clean things up (processed foods rarely give you a quality boost).
DAY 2: Feed your cells. Our bodies have trillions of mitochondria— components of our cells that crank out adenosine triphosphate, the molecule essential to all metabolism and energy creation. To keep them “fat and happy,” says Beth Reardon, R.D., an integrative nutritionist at Duke Integrative Medicine in Durham, N.C., try to eat a diet high in the B vitamins (including B6, B12, folic acid, niacin, riboflavin and thiamine). Barring that, pop a B-complex vitamin.
DAY 3: Sip it good. Proper hydration helps the smooth entry of energizing nutrients and the swift exit of depleting wastes and toxins, says Ashley Koff, R.D., a dietitian in Beverly Hills, Calif., and coauthor of Mom Energy (Hay House). Exact H2O needs vary, but Koff suggests drinking half your body weight in ounces every day.
DAY 4: Start strong. It’s best to eat within 40 minutes of waking so your body gets the message that it’s time to shift from resting to raring to go, says Koff. An ideal a.m. meal packs plenty of protein plus smaller amounts of complex carbs and a bit of healthy fat—nutrients that fuel your muscles and mind but also take longer to digest for a sustained release of energy. Koff recommends oat-based or quinoa cereals with some ground flaxseed; a scrambled egg burrito with a low-carb, highfiber wrap, pesto and baby spinach; or organic berries and plain Greek yogurt with nuts, chia or hempseeds.
DAY 5: Manage the munchies. To prevent energysapping snack choices, it’s always a good idea to have a well-timed minimeal at the ready, says Reardon, who suggests a handful of nuts and dried fruit. “You see an immediate rise in blood sugar from the dried fruit, but you also get longerlasting energy from the fiber, as well as the fat and protein in the nuts,” she explains.
DAY 6: Go pro. Stress, imperfect eating and antibiotics (which may be in foods without us even knowing it) can all throw the bacteria in our bellies off balance, causing energy-sapping bowel problems like constipation or diarrhea. But probiotics—good bacteria that support overall digestion and immune function— can restore order. To effectively alter your gut flora, you need to ingest about 5 billion units, so make sure any products or supplements you seek out meet that requirement (check out the GoodBelly line of juices at goodbelly .com, which meet the minimum and are also organic, vegan and soy- and dairy-free).
DAY 7: Just brew it. Recent revelations about the power of green and white tea are impressive. The ritual itself—from slowly bobbing the bag to breathing in the steam—can offer a revitalizing time-out even before you get to the abundance of antioxidants, the compound L-theanine (which may have calming and focusing effects) and anti-inflammatory properties. So grab a cup and go, go, go!