Decode Your Food Label

Energy management should be one of the principal concerns of the working man, and yet the average guy fuels his body the way he gases up his vehicle: when it's running on fumes. It's a red-warning-light response, and it usually triggers a pit stop for a café au lait and a croissant. Why we eat like the French when there's work to be done, we'll never know. But there's a better way to wake up that doesn't involve overpriced coffee: Eat smart. And eat often. More specifically, snack often. By snacking on the right foods at strategic times, you'll keep your energy levels stoked all day, says sports nutritionist Nancy Clark, R.D. Here's what to eat when, with the prep time you've got.

7 A.M.: Jump-Start Your Body

They call it breakfast for a reason: You haven't eaten for at least 8 hours. Your blood-sugar level is at its lowest ebb, and now it's time to fuel up with protein and some fat, but mostly with complex carbohydrates.

At home: Grab a bowl and mix together a three-to-one ratio of Fiber One cereal plus Cap'n Crunch's Peanut Butter Crunch. Add ½ cup of 2 percent milk. That'll give you fat, protein, and long-burning fiber, plus a little sweetness to spike your blood sugar and help wake you up. Researchers at Cardiff University in Wales gave 150 men and women either high-fiber or low-fiber cereal every morning for 2 weeks. At the end of the study, those people who ate the most fiber also reported feeling the most energetic. "Fiber helps slow down the absorption of food in the stomach, so you have more energy over a sustained period of time," says Elizabeth Kunkel, Ph.D., R.D., a professor of food science at Clemson University.

In the car: Munch on a pack of Frito-Lay Trail Mix. These single-serving tubes of nuts, raisins, and chocolate chips cost just a dollar, and you can dump one right into your mouth while you navigate rush-hour traffic. The raisins provide potassium — a mineral your body needs to convert sugar in the blood into energy. As for the nuts, they're high in magnesium. When magnesium levels are low, your body hikes its production of lactic acid — the same fatigue-inducing substance that causes your muscles to burn when you're pushing yourself to crank out that third superset.

At your desk: Dig into Knudsen Cottage Doubles while checking your e-mail. These to-go bowls of cottage cheese come with a side of fruit. Eat them separately or stir the fruit into the cottage cheese to make it more flavorful. Besides being high in muscle-building protein, cottage cheese is a good source of calcium and phosphorus, two minerals that help build your muscles' energy reserves. Researchers in Denmark found that men who replaced 20 percent of the carbohydrates in their diet with a high-protein food like cottage cheese not only had more energy, but also revved up their metabolisms, increasing the number of calories they burned each day by up to 5 percent.

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