Amidst cravings and comfort eating, keeping track of your daily diet can be tricky. But our food choices are a fundamental factor when it comes to boosting our health and productivity. According to expert dietician Marci Anderson, the food we consume - and when we eat it - can affect our sleeping pattern, moods and energy levels, to name but a few. Needless to say then, our diet goes hand-in-hand with our daily goals.
Since it’s crucial that you choose the right meals, drinks and snacks to have throughout the day, we explore some of the most common daily goals - and how to smash them with the right food choices!
7 A.M. Goal: Maximize Metabolism
When you hear the alarm go off in the morning, it’s time to get out of bed and boost your metabolism to the max. Eating breakfast instead of skipping it is associated with better metabolism, so make sure you eat within an hour of waking up.
But what to eat? Don’t grab that bowl of sugared cereal and full fat milk. Instead, control your hunger by consuming a balance of unsaturated fats, complex carbs and protein. For an overnight quick-fix, try overnight oats topped with fresh fruit. Or, if you’ve got more time on your hands, bake eggs in avocados for a real breakfast winner!
10 A.M. Goal: Focus on Work, Not Office Donuts
Despite having a nutritious and satisfying breakfast before work, it is easy to fall into the trap of unhealthy eating when the office snacks catch your eye . Not to worry - it’s perfectly normal to feel hungry again just three or four hours after a substantial breakfast.
However, instead of reaching for the donuts and cookies that are perched tantalisingly close to your desk, resist the temptation by eating the right type of snack. For a quick fix, try a cup of low-fat Greek yogurt sprinkled with pumpkin seeds; this contains 15-20 grams of protein, which will help to reduce cravings. Alternatively, if you need a more hearty snack, chop a banana and team with a tablespoon of peanut butter. This combo of filling carbs and protein will keep temptation at bay until lunch - and tastes amazing too!
1 P.M. Goal: De-stress & Detox
Whether you’ve had an intense business meeting or you’re simply heavily-laden with your workload, lunchtime is your chance to de-stress and detox. Quinoa is a magnesium-rich protein which relaxes blood vessels and muscles, so try and incorporate it into your lunches as much as possible.
It’s also important to consume foods high in vitamin B6 as these aid the nervous system and immune system, as well as being natural mood stabilisers. Vegetables are a good source of vitamin B6 so try and eat at least a serving of greens and other fresh vegetables every day.
Wondering how to incorporate these into your on-the-go lunch? Try making a spinach, quinoa and roasted tomato salad. To give your lunch more flavor, sprinkle it with maca root powder: as an added bonus, this could also help to enhance the body’s natural ability to cope with stress.
3 P.M. Goal: Ditch the Afternoon Energy Slump
As the day wears on and you’re yearning for COB, the afternoon may bring with it the dreaded energy slump. Instead of reaching for the coffee pot to give yourself a boost (the caffeine could prevent you from falling asleep later on), boost productivity levels by grabbing a handful of unsalted nuts.
Whether you go for almonds, walnuts or pecans, these nuts provide a natural energy boost by re-fuelling your blood glucose levels. Many studies have also found that moderate consumption of raw nuts is linked to weight loss. This is because nuts are packed with healthy fats, nutrients and minerals - just make sure you don’t eat more than handful though, as they are high in calories.
5 P.M. Goal: Make That Workout Count
You're feeling exhausted after a day at work - but it's not over yet! Finding the energy to go to the gym (or for a jog) after a stressful day can be hard, but if you're going to put in that effort, it’s important to fuel your muscles so you get the most out of your workout. During exercise, your body breaks down and oxidises branched chain amino acids (BCAAs).
These are key for reducing the catabolism of working muscles and enhancing muscle recovery after exercise. To help you look after your body and maintain muscle mass, consume protein shakes or protein powder containing BCAAs before your workout.
7 P.M. Goal: Boost Your Evening Metabolism
At the end of the day you’re probably going to want to relax and unwind. This is especially true in the winter when the temperature drops and you’re less likely to venture outside. To give your metabolism one final boost in the evening, add chilli peppers to your dinner.
The source of the heat that you feel when you eat them is from the active component capsaicin - found naturally in chilis. Studies have shown that spicy meals which contain capsaicin can help spike your metabolism and control your appetite for longer.
There are a variety of chili peppers you can buy which offer a diverse range of heat intensities and flavor, so experiment with adding different types to your meals. Slice up jalapenos or habaneros, and add them to a salad or mix cayenne pepper in soups or rice for a spicy delicacy!
10 P.M. Goal: Dream the Night Away
After the stresses of the day,it can sometimes be hard to drift into a peaceful slumber. If you’re struggling to get your forty winks every night, you need to increase your intake of the amino acid tryptophan.
Tryptophan is a natural mood regulator which boosts the production of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin. So to stop that mind racing when you’re supposed to be having downtime, have a glass of soy milk before bed: this contains carbs which promote the production of tryptophan. The calcium in the drink also relaxes your blood vessels, so you should have a restful sleep. Sleep tight!