Nutrition that Will Power You Up!
We’ve talked about energy-packed breakfast and lunch ideas. This week let’s look at some excellent food sources of energy and end with some good sites for healthy dinner recipes.
Wanting to feel more energetic is universal, but there are different ways of obtaining that energy, some good and some not so good. Obviously getting energy from food sources and from physical activity are the best ways. Some not-great sources of energy are sugary foods and drinks and caffeinated drinks. While not entirely awful, sugary foods and sugary and/or caffeinated drinks will at best give you a brief burst of energy as your sugar levels spike but then provide you a crash as those levels naturally come back down. For energy, it’s best to rely on foods and drinks that raise your energy levels naturally and save the sugary carbs and caffeinated drinks for the occasional treat.
For energy, look to protein. Protein will give you the right amount of energy to get you through your day or workout. But any food packed with complex carbs, protein and fiber will revitalize you.
Packed with complex carbs, brown rice is also an excellent source of magnesium. Research from the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service tells us low magnesium hinders the body’s metabolism. One cup of brown rice provides over a quarter of magnesium needed daily by women and ⅕ of the magnesium needed daily by men.
The bane of every child’s existence, beef liver is chock-full of vitamin B12, the vitamin that keeps energy levels from dropping. Containing protein as well as B12, beef liver will fuel your day. Vitamin B12 can also be obtained from meat, fish, poultry, and eggs.
Sardines contain Omega-3 fats, vitamin D, and calcium without the harmful mercury. Fatty fish, like sardines and salmon, are heart-healthy ways to increase your energy levels. Just be mindful of the sodium level when eating canned sardines. Sometimes sardines are canned in, or flavored with, a liquid high in sodium.
Beans are a great source of protein and are actually one of the ways vegans get their quota of protein. These little guys also have lots of fiber, which helps to slow digestion, meaning you feel fuller longer. They are rich in magnesium, which is crucial to increasing and stabilizing the body’s energy levels.
Classified as a legume, lentils provide fiber, complex carbs, and slowly digested protein. Just half a cup of cooked lentils contains more protein than a whole egg, over a quarter of the daily dose of fiber, and all for approximately 115 calories and almost no fat. They can be eaten alone or used to increase protein in soup and salads.
Chicken is an excellent source of lean protein, but only without its skin. The skin provides unneeded fat and calories. Plus chicken is a lighter choice than pork, lamb, beef – meats that contain unhealthy saturated fats.
Edamame is a perfect energy booster with slowly digested fiber, healthy fat, and complex carbs. You’ll get 16 grams of protein in a cup of edamame and less than 200 calories. Edamame is also rich in magnesium and B vitamins. The body uses these nutrients to convert carbs into energy.
Whole Grain Cereals and Breads
Whole grains are made from the entire grain seed – which is the germ, the bran, and the endosperm. Refined grains lose approximately 25% of the grain’s protein in the refining process. Many other key nutrients are lost in this process as well. Examples of whole grains are:
- Brown Rice
- Whole-wheat breads, pastas, crackers
Packing 6 grams of protein and only 70 calories, eggs have more nutrients per calorie than most other foods. An egg provides slowly-released energy and a long-lasting feeling of fullness. Both the white and the yolk combine to form a superfood.
Not all energy needs to come from food. Try these energy-boosting drinks for a quick, tasty jolt!
An occasional soda isn’t going to kill you, just try to not rely on it for energy. The same goes for caffeinated teas and coffee. Caffeine gives a nice jolt but too much is, well, too much. We’ve all experienced the jitters and shakiness that accompanies large amounts of caffeine. And the coming down isn’t great, either. So limit yourself and time your intake appropriately – drinking caffeine too late in the day will interfere with your sleep, leading to, guess what? Low energy levels in the morning!
So simple, so available, and so overlooked, water is the mainstay of life. When your body doesn’t have enough water you feel it. Water provides energy, carries fuel and nutrients to your cells, and flushes your body of waste. Studies have shown that when you drink enough water you consume less of the bad stuff, like fats, salt, cholesterol, sugar, and total calories. It’s also important to drink enough water when you work out. Drink at least 8 ounces both before and after your workouts and more is recommended if you’re exercising for longer than 30 minutes at a time.
Maybe I’m biased, but green tea is perfection in a cup. Rich in L-theanine, green tea provides alertness and energy without the jitters you get with other caffeinated teas. L-theanine is an amino acid that provides that jolt of energy and alertness and may also protect against some illnesses such as the common cold and the flu. Research found that participants in a study who took a green tea supplement twice a day for three months were 23% less likely to suffer from colds or the flu for any longer than two days. Another important ingredient in green tea is EGCG, epigallocatechin gallate. This is a catechin, a natural antioxidant that prevents cellular damage and reduces the formation of free radicals in the body. Green tea does contain caffeine, which adds to the energy boost you get from a cup, but in lower levels than other teas.
Sites for Energy-Boosting Recipes
Image Credit: Hello Doctor