Why are you on a diet? To lose weight, get fitter or gain muscle? All of those are great goals, but only if you also get one basic thing – enough energy. Only when you feel good and energized to do what you love, like riding a bike, can you call it a success. Let’s look at how diets affect energy levels and how to recognize progress.

Do you need coffee to stay awake?

How much do you hate the sound of your alarm clock? Having a hard time getting out of bed and feeling exhausted in the morning is a clear sign that your energy levels are off. The same thing is true if you need coffee to stay awake after lunch or mid-afternoon. Though these issues sound more like you’re not getting enough sleep or are living a stressful life, your diet influences them a lot too.

Your body is missing minerals and vitamins

How much energy you have is not just a question of calories. Your body needs nutrients to make a good use of the calories you ingest. For example, you need vitamin B1 and B2 to successfully convert sugar into ATP, energy that your cells can use. Vitamins B6, B12 and C also help you produce neurotransmitters like dopamine or serotonin that serve as stimulants and allow you to focus. Similarly, you need minerals like magnesium, zinc and calcium to produce the enzymes needed to metabolize food into energy.

Too much sugar can cause energy dips

Modern, processed foods often lack the above-mentioned nutrients. And not only that, these foods also contain a lot of sugar. Having stable blood sugar is the key to avoiding afternoon crashes. Foods high in sugars, like sodas, desserts, juices, or breakfast cereals, enter your blood stream way too fast and create spikes that cause you to feel groggy, almost sleepy later.

You’re doing it right if

You are not relying on coffee, tea, or energy drinks to get through the day.

You are waking up well-rested and in a good mood (ideally without an alarm clock).

The idea of being active and getting some movement sounds good, not exhausting.

These improvements might come way before you actually lose any weight. If you start feeling more energy which is stable throughout the day, you’re doing it right. Adjust your diet with this in mind!

This article is a part of series: Eat to Ride