Food & Nutrition

The Harvard-Approved Plan to Transform Your Energy For Good

Harvard Medical School recently published a special report on energy, covering everything from banishing long-term fatigue to boosting energy immediately. These are some of the highlights.

Avoid fruits that make you more tired in the long run

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One of the more surprising findings in the Harvard Medical School report Boosting Your Energy is that despite its sterling reputation, not all fruit is good. Some—especially dried fruits—act almost like refined carbs, providing quick energy but soon leaving you even more sapped than before. That’s because they spark a surge in insulin, which, in turn, quickly ferries those sugars out from the bloodstream and into various cells throughout the body. The result: low blood sugar and an overwhelming sense of exhaustion. Instead, opt for fresh, low-glycemic foods such as oranges and apples. Make bananas, which are slightly higher in glycemic load, your plan B; consider raisins and dried dates to be occasional treats. Not feeling fruity? Carrots and hummus offer an excellent boost, too. Check out 10 more foods that boost energy.

Stick with fat-infused meals that won’t make you sleepy

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Nothing will force a siesta faster than a lunch laden with fats (cheesy lasagna, anyone?). The exception, however, may be foods with essential fatty acids—fats that can’t be made by your body. It’s too early to tell whether omega-3s can help with everyday fatigue (though scientists have found lower levels in people with chronic fatigue syndrome), but research on overall brain and heart health suggests you should eat plenty anyway. The current recommendations, from the American Heart Association, recommends eating two 3.5-ounce servings of fatty fish, such as salmon, every week week. Here are more energy-boosting foods dietitians swear by.

Look to water as an energy elixir

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Yes, water. No need for any fancy high-tech energy drink. If you’re feeling sleepy, chances are, you’re running low on H20. As the Harvard report points out, about half to 60 percent of your body weight is water, which helps move nutrients throughout the body via the bloodstream. If you’re having one of those go-go-go days, you’ll be losing fluid all day through sweat, exhalation, and urination. Without replenishing, you’ll have no energy left. Watch out for these other 15 surprising things that drain your energy.

Squeeze in a workout to improve sleep

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If you’re still dragging after seven to eight hours of quality sleep—and you don’t have a health issue like sleep apnea—schedule some exercise. According to a study published in the journal Mental Health and Physical Activity, 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity a week (the general recommendations from experts) can provide a 65 percent improvement in sleep. And as the thinking goes, when you have more restful sleep, you’ll feel less tired the next day.

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