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Rev your engine with these energizing foods

With the New Year comes a new chance to get healthier and lose that weight once and for all. Easier said than done! We all start off a new year with great expectations. But all too often, we fall right back into those old habits within a few months.

This year, why not give your diet a fresh start by emphasizing foods that you should eat more of instead of focusing on foods to avoid? At the top of your list should be foods that not only taste great and are good for you but are also energizing. That's right, foods that can boost your energy.

Timing Is Everything

For foods to give you that much-needed boost, you need to eat the right ones at the right time. There's nothing worse than skipping meals. Your body needs fuel, just like a car. If you don't provide it, your body will break down muscle tissue to generate it. And your weight-loss goal should be to increase calorie-burning lean body mass, not lose it.

"Never let your tank get on empty," says Dan Benardot, PhD, RD, FACSM, a nutrition researcher and professor of nutrition at Georgia State University in Atlanta. "It is very important to maintain a normal blood sugar, and the best way to accomplish this is to eat every few hours."

This will help you maintain muscle tissue -- which burns more calories than fat tissue -- while putting the proverbial zip in your step. But don't overdo it. Overeating can be just as bad as starvation, Benardot warns.

"Ingesting large quantities of food stimulates insulin production and the deposition of fat," he says.

The challenge is to be prepared and to carry healthful snacks with you so you don't go for long periods of time without fuel for your tank. Portable combinations of complex carbs and lean protein -- like low-fat cheese and whole-grain crackers, whole fruit and a handful of nuts, or a low-fat granola bar -- are great munchies for energy. Store them in your purse or briefcase so they're always handy.

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