With so many ads about which superfoods are best, it can be confusing to decipher what's a scam and what's the truth. That's why I compiled a list of the top five energy boosting foods that will give you true, lasting energy to keep you hopping all day.
Oats contain the energizing and stress-lowering B vitamin family, which helps transform carbs into usable energy. Oats are also low on the glycemic index because they have a lot of fiber. That means that your body gets a steady stream of energy, as opposed to a short-term spike because the carbohydrates gradually flow into your bloodstream.
The key here is to look for high-fiber oatmeal, like oat bran. For the best nutrition kick, avoid instant oatmeal and stick with more natural varieties, then add your sweetness.
Beans are an excellent source of fiber, which translates to a slow release of glucose, as well as B vitamins, iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc, calcium, and copper. Lentils provide both carbohydrates and protein, making them a great addition to any meal. Lentils help reduce your cholesterol and blood pressure, and they're low in fat and calories to boot.
Bananas provide a lot of potassium, an electrolyte that helps maintain healthy nerve and muscle function. Unlike some nutrients, the body doesn't store potassium for extended periods of time. This means that your potassium level can drop during times of stress or strenuous exercise when the nutrient is lost through excessive sweating. The sugar in bananas is an easily digested form of carbohydrate.
Other fruits such as apples, grapes, peaches and pineapples also make great energizing and refreshing snacks. We all know we need to be eating more fruits in our diet!
Studies show that chocolate can elevate your energy levels by way of certain bioactive compounds such as tyramine and phenylethylamine. Chocolate has also been claimed to improve anemia, awaken the appetite, aid in digestion, and improve longevity. Chocolate contains sugar and caffeine along with fat and calories so consume in moderation. When possible, opt for dark chocolate or raw cacao for the highest source of antioxidants.
These little guys are great if you're looking to improve your focus and mental clarity. Monounsaturated fats such as almonds provide essential fatty acids, known as omega-3s and omega-6s that produce an alert mental state.
Other healthy fats to include in your diet are avocados, seeds, nuts, olive oil, and fish oil. Of course, you'll want to check with your health practitioner before making drastic changes to your diet.
Into Your Daily Menu
Incorporating these foods into your daily menu takes some planning, so here are some ideas you can use to ensure you'll have all the energy you need every day.
Smoothies For breakfast, a banana fruit smoothie is a quick and easy way to get the potassium your body requires for normal function. In a blender, combine a small banana, some frozen berries of your choice, ice, 1/2 cup low-fat milk, and a teaspoon of vanilla. You can also add a tablespoon of peanut butter or some raw cacao powder as well.
Oatmeal If you need a quick breakfast, you may not always think of oatmeal, or you may think of instant oatmeal, which isn't as nutritious. Some companies are making instant oatmeal healthier by not adding as much sugar and artificial flavoring, but you'll always want to compare the sugar and fiber amounts across a few different brands to find the most healthy oatmeal.
Cereals Another great alternative to a bowl of hot oatmeal is bran and muesli cereals. They contain a lot of the energy boosting nutrients of oatmeal and often include healthy nuts and dried fruits as well.
Almonds These nuts are perfect as a mid-afternoon snack. Grab a handful and take them to work with you in a snack cup or baggie.
Dark Chocolate When you're feeling sluggish, a small dark chocolate bar is all you need for a great pick me up that will last longer than an hour or two.
Dinner Side Dishes
Beans Lentils are a great side dish to enhance many dinner entrees such as tacos and burgers. You can also make lentils a main dish by combining several types into one dish as a bean soup or bean casserole served with cornbread. Another way to eat lentils is to add some pepper and melted shredded cheese as part of a healthy lunch.
Working these naturally energizing foods into your daily routine doesn't have to be difficult. With a little imagination and effort, you can have all the energy you need to stay awake and alert throughout the entire day!