It’s a common issue for people to be running on fumes by mid-morning and mid-afternoon, roughly a couple of hours after they’ve eaten breakfast and lunch. But what’s the cause? Meals that don’t fuel you for the day. The solution? Being more intentional with what you consume. The result? The ability to get through your day without nodding off in your morning meetings, or at your desk in the afternoons. So, what should you be eating? What we like to call energy foods.

In short, you need to be eating protein and healthy carbs for every meal, and you need to snack on healthy fats that contain those same healthy carbs in between as you’re hungry. Doing this will keep you from gorging and overeating,  and it will also provide you a steady stream of foods that fuel you throughout the day. The problem is that some people don’t like the idea of consuming carbohydrates throughout the day. What those people don’t understand is the difference between good and bad carbohydrates: good carbs (like fruits and nuts) are actually digested very slowly for a gradual boost of energy, while bad carbs (like pizza and hot dogs) give a quick boost of sugar fueled energy, followed quickly by a crash.

Breakfast

There’s no better way to start your day than making sure you’re getting the protein you need to sustain your body for a few hours, and some healthy carbs to keep you feeling full and energized. A piece of fruit, eggs, Greek Yogurt, peanut butter and steel cut oats with some nut butter and berries are all great options.

Lunch

Lunch is a great time to continue getting the nutrients you need while you refill your tank for the day, and salads are the best way to do just that. Eating dark, leafy greens like spinach and kale, paired with grilled chicken, some veggies and an organic dressing is a good idea. If you’re not much of a salad person, go for protein and make an effort to skip breads and grains (like pasta) that will just cause a crash. A ground turkey patty with a side of spring vegetables, for example.

Dinner

Keep your dinner carb-free, if you can. Focus, rather, on protein and produce. Grilled chicken with a side salad and broccoli, spaghetti squash with ground turkey, or ground beef lettuce wraps with tomato and avocado are all great options for light but substantial and healthy dinners.

Snacks

Throughout your day, snack on things like almonds, fruits, nut butters, avocados and light carbs like popcorn. These foods will keep you energized and won’t sit heavily on your stomach, or go unused by your digestive system.

Being strategic with your meals can not only be good for maintaining a goal weight, it can also provide you the fuel and energy you need to get through a busy day without crashing.

What are your favorite energy foods?