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These three meal-planning secrets will keep you full of pep all day long.

It’s not just what you eat that can make you feel either peppy or tiredit’s also your eating schedule. The way that you space out your meals and snacks has a huge impact on your energy levels. Schedule your eating wrong and you’ll feel sluggish all day long, but eat the right way and you’ll be raring to go from morning to night. These are the three most important tips to keep in mind.

  1. Don’t wait too long to eat your first meal. When you first wake up, you typically haven’t eaten for at least 10 to 12 hours. As a result, your blood sugar levels are incredibly low. And low blood sugar levels mean low energy. You may not feel hungry, but if you wait too long to eat, then you’ll become suddenly starving and shaky. Instead of waiting for that moment, when your defenses are down and you’re likelier to grab a quick and unhealthy fix like a doughnut, eat a filling, nutritious meal that contains protein (try egg whites) and whole grains. This will sustain your energy levels until lunch.
  2. Make smaller meals and eat more often throughout the day. Downing a huge plate of food—especially one that’s full of carbohydrates, fat, and sugar—will force your digestive system to kick into high gear. And when all of your energy is being used to digest a big meal, it isn’t being used to help you do anything else. That’s why after a huge lunch, you usually want to nap instead of tackle a big project. On the other hand, eating small meals closer together keeps your blood sugar levels even and gives you a more steady supply of energy. Since you’re eating more often, it’s important to keep these meals small (in fact, they can even be large snacks).
  3. Don’t just eat often—drink often, too. Being dehydrated won’t just make you thirsty—it will also make you sleepy. So starting with breakfast and continuing with every meal throughout the day, make sure that you drink a big glass of water along with whatever you’re eating. (Note: This doesn’t mean that you should always chug an extra-large cup of joe. While coffee does contain water, it’s important to limit how much caffeine you consume, especially in the afternoon and evening, so it doesn’t interfere with your sleep later.)