For International Women’s Day next week, MyFitnessPal wants to empower women everywhere Eat for Impact to improve their health. In March of 2022, we conducted a consumer survey on the state of Women’s Health around the world. The results showed more than half of the women surveyed are extremely or very concerned about their nutrition in relation to energy, mood, and sleep.
74% of women are concerned they aren’t getting the nutrients they need from food.
78% of women say the type of food they eat impacts their energy level.
Additionally, our survey showed that the #1 health concern among women today is mental health, followed by energy, weight, body image, and mood. That’s why all month long we’ll be offering helpful ways you can eat to optimize your energy, focus, mood, and sleep in our Eating for Impact, in-app plan.
As you know, food is how you fuel your body. But what you eat — and when — can impact your energy levels. So if you’ve been feeling extra sluggish or want to steady the highs and lows that hit you throughout the day, try these energy-boosting tips.
7 WAYS TO EAT FOR ENERGY
1. START YOUR DAY WITH A BALANCED BREAKFAST
Breakfast isn’t for everyone, but having a well-balanced breakfast in the morning can help kickstart your day and keep you satisfied until lunch. For lasting energy, start your day with whole grain bread or a wrap made with protein, such as eggs or tofu, along with a healthy fat, like an avocado. It’s the perfect recipe to rise and shine!
2. CHOOSE COMPLEX CARBS TO AVOID A CRASH
Carbohydrates are your body’s main source of energy. That’s why it’s important to eat enough carbs during the day to keep your energy levels up. But it’s also important to eat the right kind of carbs. Part of your energy levels are dictated by your blood sugar levels. Complex carbs are made up of lots of sugars combined together that take longer to break down, providing more lasting energy. Simple carbs on the other hand, break down quickly, producing an initial sugar spike, followed by a crash that takes a toll on your energy levels. To keep a steady stream of energy, choose complex carbs like whole grains, fruit, unsweetened dairy products (like yogurt), legumes, and nuts.
3. OPT FOR LOW-SUGAR ALTERNATIVES
High-sugar foods and beverages—like sweets and sodas—also often lead to an energy crash and early hunger. If you’re struggling with energy throughout the day, check out the foods you’ve been eating on the daily. Look for sources of added sugar and swap them with something that better supports your energy. For example, trade in your soda for naturally flavored sparkling water, or snack on some fruit instead of a sugary muffin. You should feel the difference!
4. EAT ENOUGH PROTEIN
Protein isn’t your body’s main source of energy, but it’s still important for preventing fatigue. That’s because protein can slow down carbohydrate absorption, so it prevents blood sugar spikes and crashes. Protein also has many functions in the body: It makes up the enzymes used in metabolism and it’s used to repair tissues, both of which are important for maintaining energy. If you’re short on protein, these processes are slowed, which could explain why you’re feeling run-down. Try getting at least 1g of protein per kg of body weight for extra staying power.
5. FUEL UP WITH HEALTHY FATS
Still feeling fatigued? Try adding more healthy fats to your diet—think avocados, nuts, olive oil, or hummus. Often, women don’t eat enough fat due to the long-standing advice of eating a low-fat diet for health and weight loss. But healthy sources of fat can actually be energizing and good for your heart. Like protein, they provide a sustained energy release for a longer period of time than carbohydrates. Guac on!
6. REBOOT WITH LIGHT SNACKS
Snacking smart throughout the day can boost your energy if you’re struggling. The secret is in the selection. Try mixing two types of food that each bring energizing benefits, like fruit and nuts, cheese and veggies, or fruit and yogurt. Can you sense a pattern here? Fruits and veggies provide vitamins, minerals, and carbohydrates, and they’re paired with a protein or fat to slow down digestion.
7. EXPERIMENT WITH MEAL SIZE (AND FREQUENCY)
Meal size is super important for energy levels and there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. Some people feel more energized when they eat three large meals, while others hit optimum energy levels with smaller meals plus snacks in between. Eating smaller portions more often can make you feel less tired because your body isn’t working too hard to digest after eating. Additionally, for menstruating women, adjusting your meal size depending on your level of fatigue during your cycle can help you feel less tired.
TALK TO YOUR DOCTOR
Tried troubleshooting your fatigue and still haven’t seen an improvement? Consider talking to your doctor. Unexplained fatigue can be a sign of a more complex medical issue that may require blood tests, imaging, or professional interpretation, to uncover. Stay in tune with your body to make sure you know when something is wrong, and rely on your intuition to seek medical help.
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