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3 Simple Diet Changes to Boost Your Energy

3 Simple Diet Changes to Boost Your Energy

I bet that  more than once, you’ve wished you had more energy: going about your day-to-day life feeling like a drone without being able to get anything done. Somehow, what you have in your head (if anything at all, thanks to the lack of energy) just doesn’t seem to materialize. Even interesting things become boring somehow, all due to your low energy levels. Does it always have to be this way? Are we destined to be thrown into these energetic dry spells without warning? I say no, and you have the power to do something about it yourself.

Roller coaster

If you’ve experienced this lethargy, you’re most likely suffering from low energy because you are riding the blood sugar roller coaster: when your blood sugar rises too quickly, your body produces a lot of insulin to cope with the sudden rise. Your body will then store the sugar, which means it is out of reach (at least temporarily), so now you suddenly have low blood sugar instead and feel the need to stock up on more, and the roller coaster is accelerating. This is known as sugar craving.

What you want to do is make sure that you have even levels of blood sugar throughout the day—that way your body can use the blood sugar most efficiently and your system can control everything more smoothly. With a few changes in your diet, you can introduce food that help with controlling the blood sugar levels to give you an energy boost overall.

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Superfood?

Every now and then, we hear the talk of a new “superfood”—usually some new berry that no-one has ever heard of, or an exotic fruit you know you will pay way too much for. Usually the hype dies out after a short period of time and is replaced by something new. Although I am not very keen on the term “superfood,” some things almost warrant that label. The funny thing is that there are some ingredients that have been in most homes for a very long time that fall into that category.

A word of caution though: after reading this don’t go overboard with massive dietary changes. Everything in moderation is the ticket, and it’s best to consider how you can (if you can, considering allergies and so on) add a little of this to your diet and reap the benefits without doing big lifestyle changes.

So here is what I’d like you to consider:

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1. Cinnamon
Cinnamon not only tastes excellent, it also has an effect on your blood sugar level. When the food you eat contains cinnamon, your blood sugar level rises slower than without it. You still have to make sure not to eat too much sugar, but cinnamon can be your friend in keeping your blood sugar in check.

My favorite use of cinnamon is on my cottage cheese at breakfast; cinnamon on oatmeal is another great example. In addition, I’d like you to consider trying cinnamon in your dinner recipes—it’s really great with chicken and chili powder.

2. Almonds
Nuts in general are underrated in my opinion, but it often seems that people either eat way too much of them (and often salted) or not all. If you’re allergic to nuts, it’s totally understandable that you’ll avoid them, of course. Almonds are especially interesting as they are easy to find without added flavor or salt,  and they contain healthy levels of good monounsaturated fatty acids and high levels of vitamin E. Vitamin E can be tricky to get through a normal diet, so almonds are a very sensible choice here. At the same time, the fatty acids will help prevent sugar from raising your blood sugar levels too quickly, which is  another tasty way of getting off the blood sugar roller coaster.

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I usually eat almonds for breakfast, and there they provide my healthy fatty acid intake. Normally I eat 3-6 almonds, so we’re not talking about handful after handful. Being a nut lover, I really have to be careful not to overdo it.  Try chopped nuts in a side salad, or mix them in with your favorite fruit or oatmeal.

3. Cauliflower
I bet you didn’t see that one coming! Cauliflower is a great substitute if you are looking to reduce your consumption of rice, pasta, or potatoes: you can eat it fresh, steamed, boiled,  or as a nice mashed potato substitute when blended with a good vegetable stock. Eating cauliflower will allow you to feel full and satisfied with very few calories, and it will provide you with plenty of  fiber: a winning combination.

Cauliflower is my number-one lunch and dinner potato substitute, though the key to making it interesting is to use spices sensibly—It doesn’t have to taste as dull as most people think it does.

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Conclusion
What I propose in this post may take a little bit of time to produce noticeable results in how  you feel, but give it time: this is about simple changes that can have a big impact on your health in the long run. If you’re looking for faster results, you can try some of the great hacks found here. All in all, these three changes are not what you would find on the cover of a magazine, but in my opinion, they are far better: they’re easily implemented, with no magic involved.

So, what do you think? I would love to hear from you.

Featured photo credit:  yoga woman on green park via Shutterstock

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Last Updated on September 18, 2020

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

Learning how to get in shape and set goals is important if you’re looking to live a healthier lifestyle and get closer to your goal weight. While this does require changes to your daily routine, you’ll find that you are able to look and feel better in only two weeks.

Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to get in shape. Although anyone can cover the basics (eat right and exercise), there are some things that I could only learn through trial and error. Let’s cover some of the most important points for how to get in shape in two weeks.

1. Exercise Daily

It is far easier to make exercise a habit if it is a daily one. If you aren’t exercising at all, I recommend starting by exercising a half hour every day. When you only exercise a couple times per week, it is much easier to turn one day off into three days off, a week off, or a month off.

If you are already used to exercising, switching to three or four times a week to fit your schedule may be preferable, but it is a lot harder to maintain a workout program you don’t do every day.

Be careful to not repeat the same exercise routine each day. If you do an intense ab workout one day, try switching it up to general cardio the next. You can also squeeze in a day of light walking to break up the intensity.

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If you’re a morning person, check out these morning exercises that will start your day off right.

2. Duration Doesn’t Substitute for Intensity

Once you get into the habit of regular exercise, where do you go if you still aren’t reaching your goals? Most people will solve the problem by exercising for longer periods of time, turning forty-minute workouts into two hour stretches. Not only does this drain your time, but it doesn’t work particularly well.

One study shows that “exercising for a whole hour instead of a half does not provide any additional loss in either body weight or fat”[1].

This is great news for both your schedule and your levels of motivation. You’ll likely find it much easier to exercise for 30 minutes a day instead of an hour. In those 30 minutes, do your best to up the intensity to your appropriate edge to get the most out of the time.

3. Acknowledge Your Limits

Many people get frustrated when they plateau in their weight loss or muscle gaining goals as they’re learning how to get in shape. Everyone has an equilibrium and genetic set point where their body wants to remain. This doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve your fitness goals, but don’t be too hard on yourself if you are struggling to lose weight or put on muscle.

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Acknowledging a set point doesn’t mean giving up, but it does mean realizing the obstacles you face.

Expect to hit a plateau in your own fitness results[2]. When you expect a plateau, you can manage around it so you can continue your progress at a more realistic rate. When expectations meet reality, you can avoid dietary crashes.

4. Eat Healthy, Not Just Food That Looks Healthy

Know what you eat. Don’t fuss over minutia like whether you’re getting enough Omega 3’s or tryptophan, but be aware of the big things. Look at the foods you eat regularly and figure out whether they are healthy or not. Don’t get fooled by the deceptively healthy snacks just pretending to be good for you.

The basic nutritional advice includes:

  • Eat unprocessed foods
  • Eat more veggies
  • Use meat as a side dish, not a main course
  • Eat whole grains, not refined grains[3]

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Eat whole grains when you want to learn how to get in shape.

    5. Watch Out for Travel

    Don’t let a four-day holiday interfere with your attempts when you’re learning how to get in shape. I don’t mean that you need to follow your diet and exercise plan without any excursion, but when you are in the first few weeks, still forming habits, be careful that a week long break doesn’t terminate your progress.

    This is also true of schedule changes that leave you suddenly busy or make it difficult to exercise. Have a backup plan so you can be consistent, at least for the first month when you are forming habits.

    If travel is on your schedule and can’t be avoided, make an exercise plan before you go[4], and make sure to pack exercise clothes and an exercise mat as motivation to keep you on track.

    6. Start Slow

    Ever start an exercise plan by running ten miles and then puking your guts out? Maybe you aren’t that extreme, but burnout is common early on when learning how to get in shape. You have a lifetime to be healthy, so don’t try to go from couch potato to athletic superstar in a week.

    If you are starting a running regime, for example, run less than you can to start. Starting strength training? Work with less weight than you could theoretically lift. Increasing intensity and pushing yourself can come later when your body becomes comfortable with regular exercise.

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    7. Be Careful When Choosing a Workout Partner

    Should you have a workout partner? That depends. Workout partners can help you stay motivated and make exercising more fun. But they can also stop you from reaching your goals.

    My suggestion would be to have a workout partner, but when you start to plateau (either in physical ability, weight loss/gain, or overall health) and you haven’t reached your goals, consider mixing things up a bit.

    If you plateau, you may need to make changes to continue improving. In this case it’s important to talk to your workout partner about the changes you want to make, and if they don’t seem motivated to continue, offer a thirty day break where you both try different activities.

    I notice that guys working out together tend to match strength after a brief adjustment phase. Even if both are trying to improve, something seems to stall improvement once they reach a certain point. I found that I was able to lift as much as 30-50% more after taking a short break from my regular workout partner.

    Final Thoughts

    Learning how to get in shape in as little as two weeks sounds daunting, but if you’re motivated and have the time and energy to devote to it, it’s certainly possible.

    Find an exercise routine that works for you, eat healthy, drink lots of water, and watch as the transformation begins.

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    Featured photo credit: Alexander Redl via unsplash.com

    Reference

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