So, don’t count on coffee to be your saving grace. Instead, take a close look at what you’re putting on your plate. It’s not a stretch to say that diet and nutrition play a key role in how energetic you feel and whether you maintain that energy throughout the day.
The worse thing to fill up on are refined carbohydrates and sugar. These foods will cause your blood sugar to spike and fall just as rapidly, leaving you feeling tired, unmotivated, and hungry. While there’s no magical food that will keep you running on all four cylinders all day, adding these foods to your diet is a way to keep your energy level high longer.
Oatmeal is a healthy source of carbohydrates that will give you sustained energy to get through a busy day. It’s an excellent source of complex carbs, which are slowly digested and keep you feeling full for hours. Oatmeal is also rich in vitamins and minerals. Plus, oats are a good source of beta-glucan, a carbohydrate that strengthens your immune system and defends against unwanted invaders, like viruses. For more nutrients and antioxidants, add berries to your morning bowl of oatmeal. Berries also supply carbohydrates in a fashion that won’t spike your blood sugar or cause a rapid fall a few hours later.
Beans are another source of slowly digested carbohydrates that won’t spike your blood sugar. Plus, they’re loaded with fibre, a dietary component that fosters a healthy gut microbiome and may lower the risk of cardiovascular disease. Being an excellent source of protein, they’ll also keep your fuller longer. To top it off, beans are a good source of B vitamins and minerals, such as iron, phosphorus and zinc.
A diet rich in fibre promotes healthy bowel function and helps to prevent constipation. If you’re concerned about developing gas from eating beans, soak the beans for 12 hours and discard the soaking water before cooking them. This eliminates some of the indigestible carbohydrates that cause gas. Choose from a variety of beans, but dark red beans and black beans are an excellent source since they are higher in antioxidants.
Quinoa is a seed that many people mistakenly believe is a whole grain. Regardless, it contains carbohydrates combined with fibre that provides sustained energy without glucose spikes. This mighty seed also contains all the essential amino acids your body needs for protein repair. Combine that with the vitamins and minerals in quinoa, such as B-vitamins and magnesium, and you can see why it’s a healthy choice. Quinoa is a good substitute for brown rice with its higher protein content. Wash it thoroughly and discard the water before cooking to remove saponins that can make quinoa taste bitter.
All nuts can give you a sustainable energy boost, but walnuts stand out for their high omega-3 content. Omega-3s are fatty acids with anti-inflammatory activity, and most people can use more protection against inflammation. If you trade junk carbohydrates, like potato chips, for walnuts or any other nut, you’ll find your energy level improves and stays higher longer. Plus, nuts have a high satiety factor, so you’ll reach for fewer snacks during the day. Despite their high calorie content, research shows people who eat nuts are less likely to be obese.
One smart step you can take to have more sustainable energy is to switch soft drinks and other sugary beverages for unsweetened green tea. Along with moderate quantities of caffeine, green tea contains theanine, an amino acid that has a calming effect that also improves alertness. Rather than feeling hyped up, like you do after coffee, green tea with theanine will give you a relaxed sense of alertness. To get the most theanine from green tea, choose a high-quality Japanese green tea.
The Bottom Line
Now you know how to add a little more energy to your day. Skip the junk and add some of these foods to your daily meals and snacks. If you’re used to eating sugar and junk food, replacing it with these foods could be just what you need to feel more energetic throughout the day.
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