#34. Spoiler alert! Protein protein protein.

If you have daily afternoon energy crashes then this episode is for you. Bridget talks through an average day of meals for her and how they benefit consistent energy levels throughout the day. Go to this link to find the resource which writes out Bridget's normal meals and her grocery shopping check list. It's not rocket science, but it could help you refine the way you shop and eat in order to feel energized all day long.

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Welcome to I'm Hormonal, your source of information about women's hormone health and how to support your body. Naturally, I'm your host, bridget Walton, and I'm a certified functional hormone specialist and menstrual cycle coach. I am on a mission to hold these hormone conversations with as many menstruators as possible, because you deserve easier access to accurate information about what's up with your unruly menstrual cycle and with your fertility mysteries. Don't you think it's time that we figure this out once and for all? On today's show, we are going to be covering how you can eat for optimal energy levels. So if you are somebody who has energy crashes in the afternoon, if you're tired partway throughout the day, if you just want to understand how you can set your hormones up for success for the day, then this is the episode for you. And when we finish out the episode, my hope for you is that you'll have a really good practical understanding of what are some things that you can tweak and focus on for your breakfast, lunch and dinners, for your snacks, so that you can have better, consistent energy throughout the day. Let me come back to the start and just say hello and welcome. I'm Bridget, and I started this podcast last year because I think it's really important to share what we know and what I know about hormone health so that, hopefully, you can start to have a better understanding of what your body symptoms mean, how you can impact those symptoms as they relate to hormones and, overall, feel more confident and empowered and trusting in your body. This podcast is called I'm Hormonal because we're all hormonal. It's essential for life. It doesn't have to be a bad thing and I think it's something that we can start to celebrate instead of dread. One quick reminder before we get into the good stuff the information that I share with you is for educational purposes only, and it shouldn't be used as a replacement for any sort of one-on-one support from a certified practitioner or from your healthcare provider. So, for today specifically, I'm going to be sharing with you what works for me, what I like to eat for breakfast, what I like to eat for lunch, what I like to eat for lunch, but, of course, you may have different dietary requirements based on other things that you have going on in your life or conditions that you have to navigate. So take what works for you and leave the rest, but, as always, if you have any questions, then you can always reach out to me on Instagram at Bridget Walton. Or and this is a new feature you can check out the link in the show notes where it'll say send us a text. And you can actually just send a text right to me with your questions or your comments and I'll see that and get back to you.


One last thing before we get into the meat and potatoes of today's conversation. But if you are somebody who you're going for a walk right now, you're driving, you're cleaning your kitchen, whatever you're up to. If you're just not somebody who, like me, takes notes while you listen to podcasts, then rest assured you can check out the following website in order to get a PDF of a lot of the information I share with you today, which will also include a template for a grocery list, in case that's something that will benefit you. So you can go to wwwbridgetwaltoncom slash podcast, slash 34. For whatever it's worth, you can always go to BridgetWaltoncom slash podcast and then the number of the episode, and that will take you to a page where it'll show you the full episode transcripts, any applicable links for discount codes or other references that I mentioned in the episode.


Throughout the episode today we are going to be coming back to a couple of different hormones, but primarily one cortisol and two insulin, as well as how our insulin levels relate to blood sugar. While certainly there are more hormones that impact our energy levels, these two have a markedly significant impact on our energy levels and crashes throughout the day, so we will come back and focus on these two. As a quick reminder, cortisol is our stress hormone, so when stress is high whether that's emotional stress or physical stress, because we're doing big workouts or maybe not getting enough sleep, anything like that our cortisol levels are going to naturally go up. Also, insulin is the hormone that helps our cells to bring in the glucose in our bloodstream so that we can actually make energy from them. So insulin is important, but we want to make sure that our insulin levels aren't too high. That being said, low cortisol and low blood sugar that equals one sleepy babe. So, again, I'm just mentioning this so that you can kind of see what's the overall picture of the recommendations that I will give you, but it all will come back to making sure that your cortisol levels and insulin, as well as blood sugar, are in a good way and not fluctuating rapidly. One hormone that I'm not going to be focusing on as much today will be our thyroid hormones. Our thyroid hormones absolutely have a huge impact on our energy levels and how we feel, or how you feel, but that won't be the focus of conversation for today. So if you're like, oh, what is Bridget doing, not talking about this, then just know we'll cover that at another time.


Let's talk a little bit about breakfast and I'll give you the rundown on what I normally like to have for breakfast, why, and some rules of thumb that can help you to plan out your breakfast. When I get up in the morning, I love to have this mixed green salad. I don't know why I'm so obsessed with it, but I get mixed greens or spinach or, honestly, whatever leafy greens are on sale that week. I add extra virgin olive oil and apple cider vinegar and then I put some tahini on there. If you've been here before, you know that I love tahini so much. If you're new to tahini, it's just ground up sesame seeds, but it's like rich and just chef's kiss. I also like to add some different seeds on the salad. So if I'm in the first half of my cycle, in accordance with seed cycling recommendations, I will go with pumpkin seeds and flax seeds. I'll grind up the flax seeds in my coffee grinder. Normally, if I'm in the second half of my cycle then I will put on well sesame seeds in the form of tahini, as well as sunflower seeds, and sometimes we'll add on hemp seeds as well. So that's what I like to eat first thing, and while I'm eating that, I will be cooking up a couple of eggs. So I normally have two or three eggs. I will have maybe half an avocado with it, and I'm a gal who loves some goat cheese, so if I have goat cheese on hand then I will incorporate that as well.


Something that you may have heard me talk about before is that getting at least 30 grams of protein in your breakfast is sort of the goal to shoot for. So everything that I just listed off, if chat GPT's math was correct, comes to about 35 grams of protein, and it looks like it is just about 700 calories. So I like to focus on my first meal of the day being a rich one, full. I'm not really trying to skimp on breakfast, because I know that if I have a protein and fat forward breakfast, that that's going to set my blood sugars up for success and my insulin levels up for success for the rest of the day. Just to clarify what I mean by success here I mean that they will be stable, as opposed to just fluctuating up and down when you know, which then can result in mood swings and just generally starting to feel hungry, starting to feel tired and those sorts of things. If my ideal breakfast isn't something that sounds really good to you, then there are certainly infinite options that you can consider. But something like a quiche, a savory smoothie, or even if you just have leftovers from dinner the night before, then those are some things that could fit the bill, could get you a high protein and just generally like low sugar sort of focused breakfast.


One other thing I want to mention about breakfast is that I'm always waiting until I'm eating or after I'm done eating before I consume any caffeine. That's something, too, that will help you with your energy levels and staying more consistent throughout the day. Just to recap breakfast and the rules of thumb you want to have a protein and fat forward breakfast. Wait until you've consumed something or finished breakfast before you bring any caffeine into your body. Also, if you're somebody who likes to work out in the morning, I would really recommend eating something before you are working out. Now, if you're somebody who you feel great, you have great energy throughout the day, you're like Bridget, I don't eat before I work out and I feel great then more power to you. Do whatever feels best for your body. But if you're trying to figure out what's going on and even things out, then I would encourage you to meal prep some hard-boiled eggs so that you can have a hard-boiled egg real quick before you head to the gym. Sometimes, if I'm going to do a morning workout, then I like to have an apple with almond butter pretty forward on the almond butter. And just as one other option that's really easy and quick to grab would just be a handful of cashews or almonds or anything else that's not super sugary, not super carb or starch forward that you can have real quick before you head to the gym.


All right, let's move on to lunch. So for me for lunch because I'm normally working from home I will prepare either chicken or salmon. I recently just rediscovered my Instapot man. I can't believe that I let that thing collect dust for so long. It makes life and meals so much easier. But anyway, I will have a protein veggie and a starch, so not to overcomplicate it and I know that that is certainly not revolutionary, but that's how I try to plan out.


My lunch is first, what's the protein that I'm going to have? Second, will I have another mixed green salad, like I did for breakfast? What other veggies do I have on hand? And then, when it comes to starches, I really love making rice in coconut milk, so it has higher fat than well rice that's just boiled in water would. Also potatoes, sweet potatoes I mean, you guys don't need me to explain to you what starches are. So you got this. Also, I like to have fruit in the middle of the day if I'm going to have fruit. I don't super often eat fruit, but regardless, that's when I have. It is at lunchtime.


Also, if you're somebody who has maybe less time at lunch and you want to make a smoothie, I would say that's something I do from time to time too. Again, focusing on how can I pack in as much protein and fat as possible. Again, focusing on how can I pack in as much protein and fat as possible. So one thing I do is, if I have any avocados that are basically on their deathbed, I will throw them in the freezer before they are too bad and then I can save them and put them into smoothies later on, which makes it super creamy. Also, I get cauliflower rice and so I've got that in my freezer, which I use sometimes for rice-like meals, but I'll also put it in a smoothie. Having some protein powder on hand can make it really easy to get a high protein smoothie. And, last but not least, just consider what vegetables can you include in the smoothie to help with maybe a little bit more fiber and just generally meeting your vitamins and mineral goals.


Low sugar fruits are also best. So I think I just said last one, but this is really the last one. You know berries are pretty low sugar, but yeah, just saying okay, maybe can I go without the mango, without the banana, without the pineapple, which are going to be a lot higher in sugar. Generally, tropical fruits are. If you're somebody who has energy drops after lunch, again, this is something to really take a look at of. Are your lunches protein forward, fat forward, or are they more carb heavy? If you're having pasta for lunch, you're having pizza, you're having a sandwich that is really bready, then that's something to just be aware of and reconsider. See what you can tweak to make it more protein, fat heavy, and that will help you to have better sustained energy throughout the afternoon, again, because your blood sugar levels are staying more stable as opposed to fluctuating up and down, and that'll help you feel better.


Okay, let's go ahead and talk about dinner. So dinner I like to have at least three hours before I go to sleep, rather I like to finish dinner, maybe I should say but three hours before I go to sleep, rather I like to finish dinner, maybe I should say but three hours before I go to sleep, and I prefer a dinner that is more veggie forward. So I'll have olives or something else with vinegar in it as a starter for the meal to help with stable blood sugars. But then I'm like a big soup girl, big soup gal, big soup girl, big soup gal, so I'll have a soup. Last night I had chili. If you're somebody though right, you're a busy mom and you are getting any sort of pizza or pasta or anything that is more carb forward, then just remember that it would be really good for your blood sugar levels again to eat something that is veggie forward before you get to that carb portion. Veggie forward, protein forward. Hopefully you guys aren't annoyed by me saying that so much, but that's the main takeaway is how can I eat my food, or how can you eat your food in order that best serves your blood sugar, and that would be in the following order Vegetables, protein and then carbs.


One thing that I want to mention you've probably noticed that I haven't mentioned anything about pork or beef or any other mammals. There certainly are nutritional benefits of having red meat or whatever it is that you like in those categories. That's just something for me personally that I don't really love. Yeah, mammals just have too many like emotions for me to feel really good about eating them. So anyway, from a nutritional needs standpoint, I just want to clarify I do think that there are benefits of eating red meat or eating, you know, like liver or other other. What's the word that I'm looking for? Oh, organ meat. There we go, eating organ meat from other animals. That's just not something that I personally love to dive into.


We're getting close to wrapping up here, but I couldn't go through this without talking a little bit about dessert. So if you're going to be having a sweet treat, I would really recommend that you have it as an actual dessert. Don't replace lunch with the piece of cake that is available at your office going away, party, eat, lunch and then eat the dessert, because that will, overall, help your blood sugar levels to be more stable. For me personally, I like to go with dark chocolate. I like to eat an apple with almond butter I know I said that as breakfast, but kind of love it as dessert too. And then, third and finally, one thing that I enjoy eating is a protein powder mixed with yogurt, or sometimes I will mix collagen in with it too, and that's something that's really easy with some probiotics and helps me to get protein in there too. If you're a dairy gal, then of course Greek yogurt is going to have more protein than just plain or otherwise non-Greek yogurt.


Let's switch now to talking about my grocery list and what I'm considering when I head to the grocery store on Sundays. So a couple of things to start off with. I eat a lot of eggs, I eat a lot of chicken and a lot of fish or other seafood, so that's something that's on the top of my list that I'm trying to make sure I have for each day. From there, I pretty much am looking at okay, what nuts or seeds do I need? And I get mixed grains, of course, because I have that every day. Personally, I like to make my own almond milk, so this is coming back to nuts. I recently bought a almond milk maker which you can also make soups and a ton of other stuff with. But it's so easy it's like so easy to make almond milk and it doesn't have any of the additives or preservatives that can be in store-bought almond milk, so I think that's a great option.


What else do I like to get at the grocery store? When I'm buying veggies, I really try to focus on. What colors do I not already have in my shopping cart? How can I get a variety of colors? Of course, vegetables that are brighter in color are going to have generally more phytonutrients. So get a variety of colors. And the same thing applies to fruit. Just remember what I mentioned earlier about generally tropical fruits having higher levels of sugar in them than things like berries or otherwise. Apples also, oranges also. They have so much sugar in them. So that's something certainly a lot of benefits, but that I don't really eat. Super common. Final honorable mention here avocados big avocado gal. So that's something else that's on my list for every week.


As we wrap up the episode for today, I want to challenge you to take out a pen and pencil or open up the notes app on your phone and write out what your specific plan for yourself will be to accomplish some of these things. How will you better plan your meals out or plan your meals out differently so that you're getting a variety of foods? Shoot for 30 or more foods a week that includes different spices and everything that you're taking in. It's good for your gut and for your just overall digestive system to have that variety. But don't just assume that you're going to do it. Don't just assume that some of the suggestions that I've made today or you know ideas that maybe you're like, oh that's a good idea, I could do that. Don't just assume that it will happen. If you want to make change and see change, then you got to put a plan into place. So do you have an accountability buddy who you can bring into the fold on this? Is your partner or one of your friends also looking to make changes in what they eat? Maybe there's somebody good to get on board here.


A couple of final mentions too. Here A couple of final mentions too. I would say pick a kind of normal quote, unquote, normal week to start making some of these changes, or meal prepping, and I would really challenge you to spend a couple of minutes at the end of each day to reflect on how you feel or how you felt that day. So, each day that you are prioritizing eating a high protein breakfast, did that help you to avoid an afternoon slump? Or if you're eating food with your caffeine, did that help you to avoid an afternoon slump? So make note of how you felt. What's different Again, sometimes, if we're not writing it down, it can be hard to remember.


It's just not something that goes into our long-term memory, but that will help you to orient yourself on just what's making a difference for you, and we'll either help you stick to that habit or make changes that will better suit your body or make changes that will better suit your body. On the same note of habits and sticking to the goals that you set, I just wanna mention that maybe meal prepping would be a good idea, something that will help you out. Sometimes, when it comes to building new habits, we need to stack our habits. So you've probably heard that term before habit stacking. But what if you put your journal on your pillow at night? And so every night when you get into bed, you brush your teeth, you sit down, you write down what you're going to eat for the next day, or whatever it is, and then again you have that plan laid out that you can go ahead and execute. You don't have to think of anything. You don't have to think okay, what did Bridget say in the episode? Or what else have I read? What else is interesting to me? And that autopilot can help you to really reach your goals.


So let's wrap it up here for today. Again, you can go to Bridget Waltoncom slash podcast, slash 34, to get the downloadable for today. It has the like my ideal meals throughout the day. It also has an example for a grocery list that you can use, and I have a couple of other prompts on this downloadable, on this resource that you can use in order to make sure that you are eating in a way that is supporting your optimal energy levels and consistent energy levels throughout your day. If you found this conversation to be helpful, I would be so grateful if you would consider sending this to a sister or a friend of yours. Also consider subscribing, rating and reviewing the podcast. And again, thanks so much. I really appreciate you, especially if you made it all the way to the end here, so thanks so much, and I will see you again next week. Vegetables that are brighter dang it wait.