During a long day of shopping (for endurance)
What To Eat: Steel-cut oatmeal, egg whites, fruit, and nuts.
Why: Starting off any long day with a good breakfast is key. “Try steel-cut oatmeal for long-acting, low-glycemic carbs, and some egg whites or a protein shake for protein,” suggests David Greuner, MD, a cardiovascular surgeon and director of NYC Surgical Associates. “Adding a fruit in the morning will also give you sustained energy for the day.” Endovascular surgeon at NYC Surgical Associates Christopher Hollingsworth, MD, adds that multiple small meals (versus three large meals) is also key. “A large meal can really slow you down and make you feel fatigued during a long day out running errands. Take along a bag of almonds and snack frequently for quick hits of energy.” Here are more healthy snacks you don’t have to feel guilty about.
After staying up late to wrap presents (for alertness, to recover from a sleepless night)
What To Eat: In the morning, drink 16 ounces of water; eat a hard-boiled or scrambled egg, a piece of fruit, and a half-cup of oatmeal. Continue to eat fiber-rich carbohydrates and protein at each meal. For lunch, try a chicken breast and steamed broccoli with a black bean and quinoa salad. For dinner: salmon, steamed veggies, and brown rice. Coffee or green tea will provide the caffeine the body craves after a sleepless night.
Why: “Dehydration makes fatigue even worse, so starting your day with water will counteract that,” say The Nutrition Twins, Tammy Lakatos Shames, RDN, CDN, CFT and Lyssie Lakatos, RDN, CDN, CFT, authors of The Nutrition Twins’ Veggie Cure and co-founders of the 21-Day Body Reboot. “You want to fuel with a mix of complex carbs, protein, and fiber for sustained energy—so an egg (one of the most absorbable forms of protein and a good source of energy-boosting B vitamins), fruit (carbohydrates and fiber), and oatmeal (carbs and fiber) for breakfast makes the perfect protein, fiber, carbohydrate combo.” The fiber-packed oatmeal appears to offer an extra advantage and may make you more alert during the day, say the twins, citing a study showing that people who ate high-fiber cereal in the morning reduced fatigue by 10 percent, possibly because the fiber keeps blood sugar levels stable, helping to keep energy levels on even keel for a longer time. Here are more reasons to fill up on fiber, a superstar nutrient.
Before a big meeting (to stay calm)
What To Eat: Tea with a little bit of milk
Why: “Green, black, and oolong tea contain the amino acid theanine, which passes the blood brain barrier to bring on a mental calmness and ease anxiety while creating alertness, making it the perfect tonic before an important meeting,” say The Nutrition Twins. “Additionally, the little boost of caffeine in the tea will give a mental edge without being too much to cause anxiety. Add a splash of milk to the tea and the calcium in the milk will help to relax the muscles as well.” Check out the amazing health benefits of tea.