Feeling a little frazzled and exhausted lately? In addition to trying to find some time to unwind, it might also be an idea to take a look at what you’re eating. Food is the fuel which keeps our bodies going. And while some foods are know to make you feel sluggish and tired (foods high in saturated fat or with a high glycemic index like white bread, sweets, soda and fruit juice) others can actually help you feel more energized. We all know it’s important to eat plenty of fresh and nutritious foods, but there are a few nutritional powerhouses that help boost your energy.
Leafy green vegetables
Eating plenty of leafy green vegetables is a powerful way to supply your body with energy. Their high iron content will keep your energy levels up, because it’s a key component of energy production in the body. And you can vary endlessly. What about spinach, kale, romaine lettuce or endive? Use them as a base for a salad for lunch, eat them stir-fried for dinner, as a side dish or mix them in your fruit smoothie for an extra boost.
Consuming some healthy fats is one of the easiest ways to keep you going. It will help stabilize your blood sugar levels during the day, which means your energy, will keep going too. Some antioxidants require fat to be absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract before they end up in your blood where they will start their work. Antioxidants are important for energy because they fight free radicals and keep your cells healthy. Enjoy a sliced avocado on wholegrain toast or mix some nuts and seeds in your favourite yogurt. Tip: keep a bag of unsalted nuts in your bag or at your desk, to control hunger pangs or for when you need a pick-me-up.
Complex carbs are a great source of energy, because their high fiber content slows the release of glucose in the bloodstream. This eventually leads to a more balanced energy level throughout your day. Start the day with a bowl of oatmeal, eat wholegrain breads and opt for brown rice or whole wheat pasta at dinner. A nice bonus is that it controls your appetite!
Feeling sluggish in the afternoon? Instead of reaching for a cup of coffee, try drinking a tall glass of water first. Water is required to transport nutrients in the blood that we use for energy as well as getting rid of waste build-up that leads to fatigue. When your body is dehydrated, it cannot turn the food you consume into energy, your body’s fuel. Aim for about 8 to 10 glasses spread out evenly over the day and drink even more when it’s hot outside or when you’re exercising.
You may be surprised by this one, but it’s actually a great option when you need a quick and fast pick me up. Dark chocolate is a great energizing snack! It contains the natural stimulant theobromine, which is similar to caffeine. And it’s packed with anti-oxidants, iron, magnesium and tryptophan (a pre-cursor to serotonin) so it boosts your energy and your mood!
These are only a few tips to help you on your way to feeling more energized. But it is even more important to never skip meals and to try and eat at regular intervals (every 2 to 3 hours). Eating small meals over the course of the day will help balance your blood sugar levels, which in return gives you steady energy. And resist the temptation of consuming refined sugars, often found in candy, pastries or white bread. These processed carbs deliver a quick but short lived energy blast, only to make you feel sluggish and tired later in the day. Enjoy nature’s nutrients in their purest form by eating a variety of whole nutritious foods so your body can perform at its best!