Thanks for your question! Your dilemma is a common one and I've found
a number of practical tips to help you in your quest for increased
As you mentioned in your question, eating small meals throughout the
day, or "grazing" as it's often referred to, is a highly effective way
to maintain energy levels and avoid blood-sugar crashes. Experts
recommend 3-5 small meals per day. Let's take a look at some workable
As they say, breakfast is the most important meal of the day. One of
the easiest and tastiest breakfasts to start your day with a
nutritional punch is the humble smoothie. Here's what I've found
works: Wrap a bunch of ripe bananas individually in tinfoil, and stash
them in the freezer. Remove as needed (usually one per smoothie) and
toss in your blender with a shot of orange juice, a spoonful of yogurt
and whatever other fruit suits your tastes. To make it even easier, I
often buy tubs of mixed frozen berries marketed for use in pies or
cobblers. No fuss or chopping needed, and if you're in a rush you can
transfer your smoothie to an insulated mug for portability.
Another quick and easy breakfast is whole-wheat toast and peanut
butter (white breads don't provide as many nutrients or as much energy
as whole-wheat products). Even better than toast is half a bagel with
peanut butter. Bagels are low-fat, carb-dense and provide instant
energy. Peanut butter has an abundance of nutrients and minerals and
contains healthy unsaturated fats.
High-fibre cereals like All Bran, Shredded Wheat or Raisin Bran will
also keep you satisfied and energized for longer.
With a good breakfast under your belt, you've given your stamina a
solid foundation for the rest of the day. Still, lunch and dinner
ain't chopped liver. Here are some suggestions for quick, easy main
Healthy microwaveable dinners are an excellent solution for work
lunches. Buy in bulk and store them in the freezer at your workplace
(provided there is one). You can't get much simpler than that, and
pasta and/or veggie-based frozen entrees will give you sustained
energy for the afternoon. Another good choice is frozen chili. Beans,
in fact, are one of the best energy-boosters in the biz, packed with
blood-sugar-friendly carbs and fibre.
A peanut butter and banana sandwich will help you minimize the
afternoon slump. Another option is to buy a cooked rotisserie chicken
from the grocery store and slice it over pre-packaged salad mix.
In general, aim to eat a light, low-fat lunch (500-600 calories) to
maximize afternoon energy levels.
For dinner, good, quick options include stir-fries, fajitas and pasta.
To meet your grazing quota you'll also need a couple of snacks. Some
recommendations for easy, portable pick-me-ups:
Canned or boxed fruit or vegetable juices
Crackers and cheese
Apples, apricots, grapes, nectarines, bananas, oranges, pears,
carrots, plums, celery, strawberries, cherries
Vegetables and low-fat dip or hummus
Rice cakes (with peanut butter if desired)
Meal replacement drinks or shakes like Boost
Malia Frame, in her article "The Ten Smartest Snacks," recommends
low-fat vegetable "cuppasoups" - especially good choices are bean or
lentil soups, but any soup will keep you energized. "Very hot or cold
fluids are digested more slowly than lukewarm ones so you wont need
to eat for a few hours," Frame writes ( http://tinyurl.com/ivib ).
Many of these items can be purchased in bulk at grocery and warehouse
stores (e.g. Costco), ensuring they're always on hand and cutting down
on your shopping time. Many don't need refrigeration and thus are easy
to store in your desk/glove compartment/purse, etc.
Some tips to incorporate healthy eating into a busy life:
Keep your office, car, purse and/or briefcase stocked with healthy
snacks to avoid running to the convenience store for a high-fat/sugar
If you're craving something sweet, try to choose fruit over candy or
chocolate; refrain from adding sugar to coffee, tea or cereals. If you
need chocolate to be satisfied, try to decrease your intake by eating
bite-sized bars rather than full-sized.
Pack meals the night before work so you're not grabbing whatever's in
sight and can choose more thoughtfully. Keep bottles of juice chilled
and ready to go in the fridge.
If you can make the time, cook several dishes in bulk per week or
month - on a Sunday afternoon, for example. Soups, chilis, and
casseroles are good examples. Freeze in individual portions for
grab-and-go work lunches. You can also chop vegetables or grate cheese
and freeze in single/family-sized portions for later use.
If you do end up eating fast food, try to eat at restaurants with
healthy choices like Subway or Wendy's (depending where you are in the
world), or choose Chinese or Thai dishes, which are generally
healthier than the burger-and-fries standard of other eateries.
Aside from dietary considerations, here are a few more energy-boosting
lifestyle tips to consider:
- Take a daily multivitamin supplement
- Limit alcohol to one drink per day, maximum
- Avoid excess amounts of caffeine - less than 3 cups of coffee per
day is ideal
- Do your best to get adequate sleep (a no-brainer, but it makes a
huge difference in energy levels and bears repetition)
- Incorporate some level of physical activity into your life - the
wacky thing about exercise is its ability to increase, rather than
decrease, energy stores and efficiency. "When you exercise aerobically
daily, your mental performance increases at least 10%," writes Dr.
Steven Masley on his Vitality Tips page
(http://www.drmasley.com/vitality.htm). Experts generally recommend a
bare minimum of 20 minutes of aerobic activity 3 times per week. You
might wish to consider biking, walking or in-line skating to work,
walking on your lunch break or taking the stairs whenever possible.
Energy levels drop dramatically when we are not breathing properly,
which is often the case when we are busy and stressed. Even 30 seconds
of conscious deep breathing can help. Breathe in through the nose for
a slow count of three, then exhale on a count of six. Strive to
breathe into the stomach as opposed to the chest.
Stretching for several minutes, at your desk or while stuck in
traffic, will increase blood flow and energy levels. Stretch as many
body parts as possible, aiming especially for large muscle groups like
thighs and glutes (buttocks).
Try to drink 8 cups of fluid daily. Coffee, sodas and alcohol all have
a dehydrating effect, which results in fatigue, so try to avoid these
as much as possible. A good way to encourage water intake on the job
is to freeze large bottles of water at home and bring them to work to
thaw throughout the day, providing you with an abundance of refreshing
h2o. If you're not a big water drinker, non-water options include
milk, herbal teas, or fruit or vegetable juices.
Finally, you might wish to consider taking a ginseng supplement.
Ginseng has long been purported to boost energy levels (for more
information see "About Ginseng" at <
Some links for your reference:
Get more energy: we tell you how
< http://tinyurl.com/ivk8 >
Good Housekeeping's Energy Makeover Quiz
< http://quiz.ivillage.com/goodhousekeeping/tests/energymakeover.htm >
Nutrition a-go-go: Healthy eating for busy lifestyles
< http://www.gazettenet.com/health/03282003/health/4536.htm >
The Energy Booster Diet
(Tips and suggested meals)
I used the following search strings to find your answer:
tips increase energy
healthy eating busy people
incorporate exercise busy life
Any products mentioned above merely serve as examples, and are not
being endorsed by myself or Google Answers.
All the best!