It's 3 p.m., and you're definitely dragging. Your body feels like a car that's run out of gas. And while your official workday may soon be over, your day probably isn't.
If you're like most women, your to do list probably still includes some or all of the following tasks: pick up the kids, cook dinner, get in a work out, supervise homework, tend to aging parents, walk and feed the dog, feed the cat, catch up on bills, and take care of housework.
Whew. Reading the list alone can make you feel exhausted.
But here's a solution: our six proven fatigue-fighting strategies. Some of these strategies offer an instant energy boost, just in time to shine for the 4 o'clock meeting. Other strategies are longer-term remedies. They require a bit more patience, but they'll pay off big-time in the long run. Once you've mastered these energy-boosting strategies, any one of them can make you feel like you've just had a tune-up.
Energy Boost #1: Reach for energy food
You may be thinking "candy bar!" but a sugar boost will just leave you lagging again in an hour. For a nearly instant energy boost that lasts, eat a healthy snack containing protein and a complex carbohydrate, says Christine Gerbstadt, MD, MPH, RD, a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association and a weight control researcher at Drexel University in Philadelphia.
One place to find complex carbs is in whole-grain products. "Try a whole-grain cracker with low-fat cheese," Gerbstadt says. "Or a peanut butter sandwich on whole-wheat bread."
The secret? "That combination of protein and a complex carbohydrate (digested more slowly than simple carbs) increases your blood glucose in a sustained way," she says. "It boosts energy longer than if you eat gumdrops, for instance."
Energy Boost #2: Eat a high-carb, high-fiber breakfast
For short-term and long-term energy boosts, make a habit of eating a high-fiber, carbohydrate-rich breakfast, says Jaimie Davis, PhD, RD, research associate at the Institute for Prevention Research at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles.
As proof it works, Davis points to a study that compared the effects of two carbohydrate-rich breakfasts -- one high-fiber, one low-fiber -- with two high-fat breakfasts. The high-fiber, high-carb meal was associated with the highest level of alertness between breakfast and lunch. The study was published in the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition.
To boost the fiber and carbs in your first meal of the day, select such foods as whole-wheat toast or high-fiber cereal. A half cup of high-fiber cereal can contain as much as 14 grams of fiber, and some high-fiber breads have 6 grams per slice. Aim for 25 to 30 grams of total fiber daily, Davis says, noting that most Americans get perhaps 10 to 15 grams.