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By Susan Dombrowski, DaVita® dietitian
What you eat greatly affects your energy level. Meals that are too high in refined carbohydrates and lacking in protein may lead to a quick rise in blood sugar, followed by an equally rapid drop, making you feel less energetic just an hour or two later. On the other hand, a well-balanced and kidney-friendly meal with healthy carbohydrates (fruits, vegetables and healthy grains) coupled with a good source of protein (fish, poultry, egg whites, lean meat, protein powder or a supplement) can help keep blood sugar on a more even keel and keep you mentally alert.
When you eat is also a factor in how your energy level is regulated. Skipping meals will leave your energy flagging, too. Since food fuels all activity—both physical and mental—you'll have a hard time functioning if your tank is empty. If you skip a meal, you'll likely be tempted to grab the quickest food available, and if you stop at a fast food restaurant or convenience store it is often less nutritious. If you are pressed for time when you need to eat, try to avoid highly-processed foods loaded with sodium and phosphorus additives, such as packaged foods.
Plan to keep healthy snacks around such as low-potassium fruits and vegetables, nourishing grains and easy-to-grab sources of protein. If you lack time for a healthy meal, a protein bar can be used as a meal replacement and is a great alternative that provides convenient and delicious nutrition in minutes. Talk to your dietitian about which protein bars are appropriate for your kidney diet.
Fitness is another factor that determines how much energy you have throughout the day. People who are fit utilize energy more efficiently; therefore they have more energy to get them through the day.
Sometimes people with chronic kidney disease (CKD) may say that they feel too tired to exercise, but the answer to getting out of the slump is increasing their amount of activity. When your energy is lagging, regular exercise can lead to better and more restful sleep, meaning you store up more energy to use the next day. It may sound ironic, but the more you exercise, the more energy you'll have.
Knowing what to eat and when to eat it along with better fitness can be the recipe you need to help you garner more energy. You'll accomplish your goals more effectively, which leaves you with time to spare for things that matter to you most.
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