1. You can’t do anything without enough energy. One of the first things you should think about before starting any task is how you can fuel up appropriately.
2. For humans, our main source of energy is carbohydrates. Yes, a lot of diet plans warn you about the dangers of carbs, but that doesn’t mean you can cut them out completely. You need some if you want a truly balanced diet.
3. Of course, it’s not just about eating carbs. It’s also about the type of carbs. You can eat simple or complex carbohydrates, and they’ll have a different impact on your body. Knowing the difference can help you plan appropriately.
4. Simple carbs are sugars. They’re quick burning for when you need an immediate burst of energy, but they won’t last long. Natural sugars, like those in fruit, are better for you than the heavily refined stuff you might find in cookies and candy.
5. Starch is a more complex type of carb that’s able to sustain you through the day. You can find it in common, everyday staples like bread, pasta and rice. Again, though, you don’t want it overrefined. Whole wheat flour is better than white flour, so choose brown over white when you can.
6. Fiber (cellulose) is like a more complex carb still in terms of structure, but humans don’t use it for energy. We can’t break it down properly in our stomachs (unlike cows and other ruminants). Instead, it’s used to help other food move through the digestive system.
7. There are a few other options for topping up your energy as well. Protein is better known for its role in growth and repair, but if you need energy, it can provide a top-up. Then there’s fat, which is the most demonized nutrient but capable of giving you long-term energy stores.
8. Energy isn’t just something you need to think about at the start of the day, although breakfast is essential. You need to recharge every time you exert yourself, like after a hard exercise session.
9. Government dietary advice includes recommendations for how much food energy you should take in each day. This can vary depending on age, body type and lifestyle, so figure out what’s best for you.
10. Food energy is just one dietary consideration, so don’t forget all the other parts of a balanced diet.