You may not realize it, but many entrepreneurs are just like athletes. We work long days. We travel. We have to perform at high levels, and sometimes we do all those things without the benefit of proper meals. But food is energy. It’s fuel for all the hard work we do. While you probably don’t need to consume 12,000 calories a day like Michael Phelps, you do need to feed your body. And here are some of my go-to recommendations:
1. Endurance enhancers
My biggest challenge, especially when I’m on the road, is making sure my meals stick with me on busy days when I don’t have a chance to stop for lunch. What I need most are foods that help me perform over the long haul.
- Quinoa – the ultimate superfood, quinoa has carbohydrates, protein, and all the nine amino acids. This wonder grain helps me keep from feeling hungry all day.
- Chia seeds – like quinoa, you’re getting a complete protein with these magical little seeds that I love to eat blended in yogurt or a smoothie.
- Avocado – We sometimes get so caught up in avoiding fat that we forget that fat is one of the nutritional elements that keeps us feeling full longer. Throw in vitamins C, K, and B6, and you see what a powerhouse the humble avocado can be.
2. Energy Boosters
While slamming a cup of coffee or downing an energy drink may pick you up for a brief period of time, that feeling never lasts forever. Far better are some gentler energy sources that provide a lift without the crash.
- Almonds – perfectly balanced fat and protein, almonds give you a long-burning energy boost without the caffeine jitters or the sugar rush.
- Blueberries – When your body’s craving something sweet, take the natural route with antioxidant rich blueberries.
- Peppers – thanks to their capsaicin content, peppers give you an energy rush and boost your metabolism. Embrace the heat!
3. Relaxation Promoters
After a busy, stressful day, it can be hard to turn your mind off and get a good night’s sleep, but we all know that sleep is critical to optimum performance. When you need a little help winding down, try these options.
- Dark chocolate – If stress is what’s keeping you awake, indulge in some dark chocolate for its combination of serotonin, magnesium, and dopamine.
- Honey – The same substance that makes you sleep after Thanksgiving dinner – tryptophan – also appears in honey. Combine honey with the natural sleep aid chamomile and a cup of tea, and you’re set for a great night’s sleep.
- Cherries – while a number of people take melatonin to help with sleep, cherries are a great natural source for this sleep-regulating substance.
I have two more strategies I use to make sure I’m physically on top of my game. First, I always pack little bags of supercharged trail mix with almonds, dried fruit, pumpkin seeds, and banana chips, and I stash them everywhere. They’re in my backpack, my desk at work, and even in my overnight bag. That way, I always know that even in the biggest rush, I won’t be distracted by my growling stomach.
And finally, the thing that matters most to the way I feel is regular exercise. I used to make the excuse that I didn’t have time, but what I realized is that I have to have time. If I don’t get my body moving and my blood pumping, I feel like crap. A brief exercise break or two in my workday – no matter where I am – refreshes my mind and helps me keep focused.
Being an entrepreneur is about more than just business sense. You are the face of our company. Make sure you’re performing your best.
Mike Michalowicz (pronounced mi-KAL-o-wits) started his first business at the age of 24, moving his young family to the only safe place he could afford – a retirement building. With no experience, no contacts and no savings he systematically bootstrapped a multi-million dollar business. Then he did it again. And again. Now he is doing it for other entrepreneurs. Mike is the CEO of Provendus Group, a consulting firm that ignites explosive growth in companies that have plateaued; is a former small business columnist for The Wall Street Journal; is MSNBC’s business make-over expert; is a keynote speaker on entrepreneurship; and is the author of the cult classic book, The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur. His newest book, The Pumpkin Plan has already been called “the next E-myth!”