As the days get cooler and shorter, our energy levels also seem to decline.
Registered dietitian nutritionist and exercise physiologist Dr. Felicia Stoler visited the ABC7 studio on Tuesday to talk about ways to combat low energy during the autumn season. Below are some of the questions she answered.
1. True or false? Sugar can rob you of energy.
TRUE. Sugar might give you an instant kick, but you're going to crash in the long run. High-fiber, low-glycemic foods such as quinoa, lentils and apples will help supply you with a steady stream of energy throughout the day. You'll be less likely to reach for that mid-afternoon double-fudge brownie."
2. True or false? Being regular in the bathroom can help you be more productive.
TRUE. When you're not regular, you feel uncomfortable and out of balance. Plus, feeling better on the inside will help you exude more confidence on the outside. Keep the poop moving by eating a healthy diet of fruits, vegetables and complex carbs. And be smart about your fiber intake.
3. True or false? Low-fat diets help you stay slimmer and feel more energetic.
FALSE. Your non-fat lifestyle may be depriving your body of nutrients, and may actually be making you fat! You need fats to lower inflammation, and for healthier bones as well as better hair, skin and nails. In addition to being a great source of energy, fats can also help your body burn fat for fuel. Olive oil, palm fruit oil, coconut oil, nuts and avocados are all examples of healthy fats.
4. True or false? If you're feeling sluggish, you should drink a glass of water.
TRUE. Dehydration robs you of energy. You'd think that because it's not as hot outside, you don't need as many fluids. But air heated by furnaces is drier. That's why your lips feel chapped and skin feels tight. There's no magic number for the amount of water you should drink. Listen to your body.
5. True or false? Stress zaps your energy by burning up certain vitamins in your body.
TRUE. Stress can burn up your energy-assisting B vitamins. It also lowers your serotonin, the feel-good hormone that your brain eventually converts to melatonin for good sleep. There are a lot of really good stress-busting habits out there. Keep trying them until you find things that work for you.
6. True or false? multi-tasking is the best way to get things done.
FALSE. Multi-tasking and over-scheduling are surefire ways to feel overwhelmed and under-accomplished. Prioritize your list and focus on what's really important. Do one thing at a time, do it well and then let it go. Always schedule time in your day to relax, refresh and rejuvenate.
7. True or false? Going to the gym is always the smart choice.
FALSE. Scheduling an hour for aerobics class in your already loaded schedule only creates more stress for both your mind and body. Some experts even say that aerobic exercise raises cortisol (your stress hormone), accelerates aging and lowers testosterone. Try burst training instead. Burst training is the efficient, effective antidote to an hours-long gym routine which you can do in just minutes. I love to combine it with weight resistance for the two best kinds of exercise on the planet!
8. True or false? To be the most productive, maintain a steady pace from sunrise until your head hits the pillow.
FALSE. You want to wind down just before bedtime. Set a kitchen curfew after dinner so that you stop eating three hours before bed. If you need help to relax, sip on some chamomile tea. And read a good (but not great) book. You don't want to lose sleep because you're engrossed in a fabulous novel, so keep some not-so-great books on your nightstand.
9. True or false? It's more difficult to maintain a regular sleep routine easier as we age.
TRUE. Melatonin regulates your circadian rhythm but it declines with age. If you have jet lag, or just find yourself awake and staring at the ceiling for hours, see if three mg of melatonin does the trick. If you doze off easily, then you'll know that your body isn't making enough of this crucial hormone.
In the end, Stoler said the No. 1 thing to help naturally boost energy and well-being is to consistently get seven to nine hours of sleep. She suggests setting an alarm clock for an hour before bedtime. Also, put away the laptop, turn off the TV and power down all devices so that there's no flashing cellphone or other electronic gizmos.
For more information, visit: http://www.feliciastoler.com/
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