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10 Foods to Keep You Energized Throughout the Day
Feeling tired and need a pick-me-up but want to avoid the jitters and sleep disturbances that can come from coffee and energy drinks?
Are you feeling a little run-down lately? If you are feeling fatigued, don’t grab an energy drink or reach for the second, third, or—dare I say—fourth cup of coffee. Instead, gain natural, all-day energy from delicious, nutrient-dense foods that will help you power through your workday and still leave you energized for the evening. Unlike coffee and sugary energy drinks, real food won’t interrupt your sleep or leave you feeling jittery. Meals and snacks that contain lean protein, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats will give you all-day energy so you can be your best self.
Oats are loaded with energizing fiber, both soluble and insoluble, as well as beta-glucans. Beta-glucan is a type of soluble fiber that helps regulate your blood sugar levels, keeping your energy up all day. Steel-cut oats also provide protein, and their hearty texture is more satisfying than quick oats.
To reap the most benefits, seek out chocolate with at least 75 percent cacao or higher. The higher the percentage of cacao, the more antioxidants and less sugar it contains. Dark chocolate contains an energy-lifting, mood-boosting nutrient called theobromine, as well as a very small amount of caffeine (not enough to cause jitters or disrupt sleep).
Eggs are one of the best sources of choline (an essential B vitamin), a nutrient of which Americans don’t get enough and is found in very few foods, giving you energy by providing cell structure and synthesizing neurotransmitters—both important for a healthy metabolism. Eggs also provide protein and iron, both essential for energy production.
Beans really are nature’s most perfect food. They are loaded with fiber, which helps slow digestion and keeps your blood sugar levels stable, thus preventing spikes and dips in glucose that cause you to feel drained and hungry. Beans are also loaded with muscle-building protein and iron, key players in the production of energy in your body.
Fabulous Fatty Fish
Fatty fish, including salmon, herring, mackerel, rainbow trout, lake trout, sardines, eel, carp, Chilean sea bass and anchovies are rich sources of omega-3 fats, which provide your body with lasting energy. They also provide energy-boosting B-vitamins, particularly B12, and you may be left feeling lethargic if you aren’t getting enough B12 in your diet. This vitamin-B powerhouse food helps your body efficiently turn the food you eat into long-lasting energy. Fatty fish also provide vitamin D—which helps fight fatigue—especially if you eat the bones.
Since walnuts have the highest concentration of omega-3 fats among all of the nuts, they provide consistent, steady, slowly-released energy (both mentally and physically) to help you stay focused and energized throughout your busy day. Additionally, walnuts are one of the only natural sources of melatonin, which helps keep your circadian rhythm regular, leading to a better night of sleep and a more energized day. Walnuts also provide you with important metabolism-revving minerals including manganese, copper, phosphorus, and magnesium.
This fabulous fruit not only provides a hefty dose of healthy monounsaturated fats, it also provide filling fiber. The monounsaturated fats in avocado will help release sustaining energy throughout the day, and the fiber will keep you full for longer and keep your blood sugar stabilized, helping you avoid the crash that can occur after ingesting simple carbohydrates. Avocados also contain energy-pumping B-vitamins.
Spinach (And Other Greens)
Spinach, and other greens such as collards, kale, mustard greens, and turnip greens, are excellent sources of iron, an integral component in the energy production process in your body (iron delivers oxygen to your cells). In fact, about 10 percent of women ages 20-49 years old actually have iron deficiency. Enjoy a spinach salad with some chicken or beans for lunch and reap the pump-you-up rewards all afternoon and into the evening. Top your salad with some orange segments or sliced bell peppers—vitamin C helps you absorb the iron from plant sources.
Melon, such as cantaloupe, honeydew, and watermelon, are 90 percent water, which can help you stave off dehydration. Being dehydrated can zap you of energy and dampen your mood. Melons are also loaded with potassium, vitamin A and vitamin C.
Forego the coffee and reach for a hot cup of green tea. Green tea is chock-full of an amino acid called L-theanine, which helps you feel more focused, alert, and invigorated without feeling jittery or causing you to experience the flu-like symptoms that come when you give up coffee. L-theanine has also been shown to bolster your immune system, helping you ward off the common cold and the flu, which will certainly leave you feeling low on energy.