EAT FOR FUELAug 08, 2022
How High-Achievers Power Their Days
‘’You are what you eat.’’ - Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin
Did you know that up to 40% of the way you feel right now is due to your last meal?
High performers know that what they eat significantly impacts their performance and happiness.
They know that sustainable performance directly correlates to the food and drink they consume. Therefore, they learn to choose food purposefully.
Now, this doesn’t mean that high-performers sacrifice the pleasure of food and never indulge. It simply means that they know what foods will help fuel their body the right way.
So, what’s the ideal nutrition strategy?
Well, like with a workout program, the best nutrition strategy for someone else might not be the best one for you and vice versa.
Yet, while there isn’t a one-size-fits-all nutrition guide to fueling your performance, there are three key areas you should focus on.
1. Hydrate Properly
Staying properly hydrated will help you feel energized throughout the day and perform at your best. That’s because our bodies are made up of approximately 60% water, and water plays a key role in ensuring the optimal body and cognitive functions. Water allows many processes to take place, such as carrying oxygen and nutrients to our cells or regulating body temperature.
More specifically, here are some of the main benefits of proper hydration:
- Water carries oxygen and nutrients to your cells, increasing energy levels
- Regulates body temperature
- Alleviates anxiety and reduces stress
- Promotes relaxation
- Keeps your organs and brain functioning properly, allowing you to be more alert, and focused, and increases your short-term memory. A simple 2% fluid loss can impair your memory, concentration, and mood!
So, if you want to achieve sustainable performance at work, keep your water levels up!
2. Maintain Steady Blood Sugar Levels
Most of the food we ingest is broken down into glucose.
Some foods such as candy or white bread release glucose quickly leading to a spike in blood sugar. The issue with this is that after the sudden burst of energy, you’ll experience a quick drop in blood sugar which will leave you feeling sluggish and tired.
On the other hand, foods like nuts release glucose slowly providing sustained energy and keeping you fuller for longer.
And in addition to impacting your energy, fluctuation in blood sugar levels throughout the day can greatly affect your mood, memory and immune system, preventing you from performing at your best.
That’s why, if your goal is to reach high and sustainable performance, you need a steady source of energy and nutrients.
Here are some tips on maintaining steady blood sugar levels throughout the day:
Have smaller meals more frequently instead of having three larger meals a day: large meals can make you tired as your body works harder to process and digest the food. Smaller and more regular meals promote more stable blood sugar levels and can help fuel your performance throughout the day.
Opt for smart snacking: snacking on specific foods such as nuts, hummus with veggies, Greek yogurt or protein shakes is a great way to maintain your energy levels throughout the day.
Eat complex carbs: that’s right, carbs aren’t evil (shocking!:-)). Instead of avoiding carbs in general, minimize your intake of simple carbs and eat more complex carbs. Complex carbs are found in whole grains like oats or brown rice, carrots, strawberries or chickpeas. Here’s a list of complex carbs.
Make sure to incorporate enough protein and healthy fats: protein and healthy fats help your body create new cells and repair damaged ones, boosting your energy levels in the process.
Don’t skip meals: skipping meals leads to a drop in blood sugar levels leaving you with little energy to function.
3. Choose Nutrient-Dense Foods
Another important step to take if you want to fuel your performance is to eat nutrient-dense food.
But what does "nutrient-dense" food mean exactly?
Nutrient-dense food refers to foods that are high in nutrients relative to their calorie content.
These types of foods contain vitamins, minerals, protein, complex carbohydrates and all the other elements your body needs for peak performance.
How to recognize nutrient-dense foods?
As a general rule of thumb, the less processed your food is, the better. Also, the more colorful your plate looks, the better. So, instead of adding a few salad leaves to your plate, spice it up with other vegetables following the "rainbow" principle. For instance, add some carrots, tomatoes, walnuts, avocado and capsicum to it for a colorful and nutrient-packed meal that will help power your workday.
Sure, changing dietary habits can feel daunting. But you don’t have to do it all at once. Start by incorporating more nutrient-dense food into your diet and strive to minimize your consumption of processed foods. Believe me, once you start feeling the tremendous benefits your little changes are having both on your physical and mental performance, you won’t regret swapping your morning chocolate chip muffins for a delicious strawberry and banana smoothie bowl!