Foods to Boost Your Energy
By Rachel Berman RD, Director of Nutrition
There's nothing worse than going from hungry to tired. Meals that weigh you down can turn what was supposed to be a boost into a bust. Because food really is fuel, use these foods to get you back on track.
Our bodies are composed of up to 75% of water and not replenishing our H2O stores can result in fatigue and headaches. Because we don't sense thirst until we're already dehydrated, the trick to keeping our energy up with water means being proactive. Whether you set specific times to get a swig, purchase a liter-sized bottle to keep on hand, or grab a cup every time you pass the water cooler, make some water drinking rules. Another way to stay hydrated is to boost your intake of water-rich foods. 80% of our water intake comes from beverages, but the other 20% comes from foods. Incorporate more celery, cucumbers, watermelon, and lettuce into meals to stay thirst-free and full of energy.
Foods high in fiber actually help stabilize our blood sugar which keeps us energized all day long! When we eat foods with simple sugars such as candy or refined, white bread products we get a rush of energy from the spike in blood sugar that turns into a lag and drag sugar crash soon after. High fiber foods include 100% whole wheat bread, oatmeal, raspberries, pears, strawberries, bananas, lentils, black beans, artichoke, broccoli, and carrots. Remember to drink more water as you ramp up fiber in your diet to keep you regular. With more water and fiber in your gut, you'll also feel full longer helping you stave off overeating.
Want to stabilize your energy even more? Pair that fiber-rich food with something containing lean protein like lean beef or skinless poultry, both of which contain the amino acid tyrosine. Tyrosine can help boost brain chemicals that increase focus, specifically dopamine and norepinephrine. It's no fluke that protein bars are sometimes called energy bars. Protein is also essential to growth and repair, ensuring that your body recovers from exercise and other physical strain. Multiple studies show more protein equals more satisfaction at meal time. With fiber, the added effect could mean eating less.
Almonds contain magnesium and B vitamins which help convert food to energy. Research shows that almonds and other nuts, can help boost weight loss since they contain unsaturated fat and fiber to help satisfy us longer. In fact, a recent study also found that adults who eat nuts have better diet quality and improved nutrient intake. Both point to even more energy to go around.
Fatty fish like salmon contain omega-3 fatty acids which have been found to combat depression and improve mood. These hearty healthy fats also keep you energized throughout the day. In fact, a study found they also help fight chronic pain and stress. Yet another study saw that they can also reduce inflammation and lower anxiety. With less anxiety, you may make better decisions at meal time and that could lead to keeping the energy ball rolling.
Coffee and Black Tea
Coffee may work in the short term for an energy boost, black tea is another option. A recent study found black tea improves attention and self-reported alertness. Try having just one or two cups and after mid-afternoon put the mug down so as not to affect your sleep. Because, after all, a good night's sleep is just as important for your energy level!
What foods do you keep on tap to boost your energy?