by Matt Alderton | December 06, 2012
It's only 10 a.m. and it already feels like you've put in a full eight hours at your desk. With seven hours to go until quitting time, however, you've still got a long day of work ahead of you. To get through it, you're going to need some serious energy. So, you reach for your weapon of choice — a soda, perhaps, a cup of coffee or a giant-sized energy drink, served in a neon-colored can. Either way, it's caffeinated, which makes it a poor choice, according to CNN contributor Tiffany Barrett, a registered dietician at Emory University's Winship Cancer Institute.

"Energy drinks mask the symptoms of fatigue and dehydrate the body. The majority of energy drinks contain excess sugar, high levels of caffeine and other stimulants," Barrett explains. "Relying on caffeine and energy drinks makes us feel worse in the long run by causing our system to crash."

What's the solution, then? Barrett recommends these alternatives:

• Water: "Being hydrated is an easy and inexpensive way to increase energy levels," Barrett says. "Keep a fresh water source with you at all times and drink throughout the day. Add lemons, limes or oranges for taste variety."

• Breakfast: "Studies show that breakfast helps keep you alert, starts your metabolism for the day and keeps you satisfied until lunch," Barrett states. "Good options include whole-grain cereals, breads, fruit and lean protein instead of doughnuts, pastries and white breads."

• Protein: "Not consuming enough protein during the day can be a primary reason for fatigue," according to Barrett. "Protein-based foods provide the body with fuel to repair and build tissues. Protein takes longer than carbohydrates to break down in the body, providing a longer-lasting energy source."

• Snacks: "If you let yourself get too hungry between meals, your blood sugar falls, and you get lethargic," Barrett explains. "Keep your blood sugar and energy level steady during the day by consuming snacks … Combine complex carbs with a protein and/or fat for lasting energy. The protein and fat slow the breakdown of sugar into the blood, preventing fatigue."

• Omega-3 fatty acids: "Studies have shown that omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation, combat depression and improve mood and memory," Barrett says. "Try to focus on omega-3 fats from food rather than supplements. Excellent sources include salmon, tuna, walnuts, flax seeds, leafy greens and hemp seeds."

For more tips, go to:

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