Enjoy Better Energy this Summer

The essential foods and supplements
By Ashley Koff, RD

Summer brings us sunshine, longer days, vacations, and delicious fruits—so many things to welcome with open arms that can provide better energy.

But can summer’s magic also be an energy zapper? You bet. Longer days can mean shorter nights of sleep, sunshine can dehydrate our skin and our bodies, and vacations mean travel days where our food and fitness routines may be subpar. Even summer fruits can contribute to energy highs and lows if not consumed in proper quantities and balance. So how can you avoid these and other potential traps, and get better energy this summer?

Four tips for better summer energy

GET UNDER NOT OVERWHELMED (DIGESTIVELY SPEAKING)

When the digestive system works best, it is highly efficient at breaking your food into usable nutrients and delivering them where they need to be as well as identifying and removing wastes. All of this translates to better energy for you.

Two great ways to stay underwhelmed digestively include eating proper portions at each eating occasion, and giving the body what it recognizes most easily—but more on those later. This tip focuses on getting your digestive tract working optimally: if you are like millions of Americans with digestive complaints, this will require a summer tune-up. The tools? Probiotics, digestive enzymes, and magnesium supplementation.

• • • Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that belong in your digestive tract. Medications, stress, travel, illness, and many other factors can contribute to a deficit of these important bacteria.

• • • Digestive enzymes also exist in the body, ready to break food apart into usable nutrients. Digestive enzymes are catalysts for the digestive process. Many factors affect the supply and capability of your own digestive enzymes, so supplemental enzymes play an essential role in your GI tract tune-up. (They’re also a staple for travel, and days when you may be eating things you don’t normally consume.)

• • • Magnesium is Mother Nature’s anti-stress nutrient. We all need a little less stress in our lives, and our digestive systems lead the way with that need. When we are stressed, the body focuses its efforts away from digestion, and that can lead to digestive complaints and accumulation. No thanks! Magnesium is found in the whole form of many foods—including grains, beans, and greens—but for your digestive tune-up adding quality supplemental magnesium is required. (This is especially important if you are taking supplemental calcium.)

• • • AKA (Ashley Koff Approved) recommendations: Align probiotics, Enzymedica digestive enzymes, and Natural Vitality’s Natural Calm magnesium. (For more AKA options visit ashleykoffapproved.com/ak-list).

HYDRATE FOR (CELL) HAPPINESS

Nearly every cell of your body needs water for optimal function. Hydration—which is not just about drinking water—is another secret to better energy. When your cells get what they need to work their best, your body can run most efficiently. While bringing water into the body is important, bringing it into your cells is essential, and the mineral potassium plays a major role in making sure that happens.

Limiting sodium intake is also important because sodium works opposite of potassium, keeping water outside of cells, especially in “salt sensitive” individuals. Here are some tips to get and stay hydrated this summer:

• • • Choose potassium-rich foods daily. Coconut water, avocado, potatoes, and bananas all top the list of good sources of potassium.

• • • Spice it up vs. salt it after. Cooking with quality spices means your food gets great flavor with no added sodium, leaving you less likely to reach for a salty sauce or to sprinkle salt onto your food after you’ve prepared it.

• • • Choose water-based fruits and vegetables—including watermelon, berries, and cucumbers—in addition to drinking water as a way to improve your overall water intake daily.

PIT STOP VS. BACKLOAD

Our bodies are designed more like racecars than streetcars: we need to pit stop regularly to get fueled up and to avoid creating excess storage (i.e. fat). Just because you can run all day on stimulant energy doesn’t mean you should. Many people tend to eat light or run on coffee or “energy drinks” all day but then crash and backload (consume all their calories at night). When the body gets more than it needs at any one time it gets irritated and pushes the “extras” over to storage. That’s why it’s not about how many calories you eat during the day, but rather how much are you having at any one time. Pit stop for better energy with these tips:

• • • Start your morning with some nutrients within 45 minutes of waking up. If you don’t tolerate solids, liquid nutrition is an equally good option, but both need to be good quality choices.

• • • Aim to pit stop about every three hours to give your body a boost of energy. This way you will avoid getting too hungry or energy-zapped and making poor choices—i.e. eating too much bad food—later.

• • • Balance carbs, proteins, and fats at each eating occasion. Add non-starchy vegetables to help you feel full and to get the important plant nutrients your body needs daily.

• • • AKA recommendations: brush up on where your nutrients are found and what a portion size really is by downloading the free nutrition plan at ashleykoffrd.com/nutritionplan.

RUN BETTER ON BETTER QUALITY FUEL

When the body recognizes what it’s getting as fuel, it works easily, efficiently, and effectively: these three Es combine for better energy for you. The good news is that a healthy body recognizes all the food that nature provides. It gets confused, irritated, and challenged when it is routinely presented with chemistry lab projects masquerading as food. Skip the artificial ingredients, the refined pieces and parts and chemicals, and choose better quality food choices at each eating occasion.

Need help? Focus on these simple tips:

• • • Eat whole foods in the forms they are found in nature.

• • • Look for “USDA Organic” and “Non-GMO Project Verified” logos on your food and dietary supplements.

• • • Check to see if the brand and products you choose are AKA at ashleykoffapproved.com/ak-list.

As the days get longer, enjoy them to the fullest by following these tips to achieve better energy all summer long. And remember, just because the days are longer doesn’t mean you should do more. Perhaps summer can be when you find (or re-find) time for relaxation, yoga, a mid-afternoon nap, an after dinner walk outside, or to do nothing at all.

 

Ashley Koff, RD, is an internationally renowned registered dietitian on a mission to improve the health of people across America and beyond by raising awareness of the value of quality eating.