Foods That Will Increase Your Energy
I used to assume that feeling tired all the time was just part of being a normal, functioning adult. I mean, how many of us experience this on a daily basis, right?
But while reaching for the coffee pot may seem like the only way to combat fatigue at times, there’s a better, more effective way to address the pervasive sleepiness that seems to plague many of us these days: our diets.
In fact, our diets can do all kinds of things to counteract low energy levels…. you just have to know which foods to eat!
Don’t worry, it’s a lot simpler than you think. And to help, we put together a list of energy boosting foods below that will help you feel fresh day in and day out.
But first, we need to clear something up.
What your body uses for energy (and in what order).
Food contains 3 essential energy sources your body can use to help you function on a daily basis. These nutrients must come from your diet, your body cannot produce them by itself. Each of these nutrients are different, and your body prefers to process some over others (some are easier sources of energy).
That said, it’s important to know how your body reacts to each one and which ones it prefers in order to make sure you understand which foods provide the best energy.
Carbs get a lot of bad press these days, but contrary to what you’re told, you couldn’t live without them. They are your brain’s primary energy source and your body desperately needs them to function. Your body will always turn to carbs first for energy, as they are the easiest and quickest source of energy.
Fats are your body’s second choice as an energy source, and contain the most calories per gram of any dietary nutrient. However, they also take more energy to process than carbs, so if carbs are available, your body will skip over fats for it’s glucose-based neighbor.
Proteins are your body’s third choice as an energy source because they are much harder to process than carbs or fats. Proteins provide more sustained energy than fats or carbs as they take longer to break down into a form your body can use.
8 foods to eat if you have low energy levels.
Can you start to see how each of the three energy sources above affect your energy levels? You need carbs for on the spot energy while you need to make sure you have a healthy balance of complex energy sources like protein and fat for a more sustained boost.
This is why the best foods to eat for energy are a balanced combination of the three nutrients above, as the combination will provide the energy your body needs to function both in the short term and long term.
That said, here are 9 foods we recommend eating if you’re experiencing low energy levels.
Whole grains are great sources of energy because they are what is known as a “complex carb”. Complex carbs are harder for your body to process than simple carbs and provide a mellower, more sustained energy boost. Simple carbs on the other hand tend to spike your blood sugar levels quickly and give you a lot of energy followed by a quick drop (the “crash”).
Eggs are one of the most complete sources of protein around, and will give you a long sustained boost in energy (as well as helping you feel fuller, longer). Eating high protein foods like eggs also helps you use excess energy from fat that your body has stored, which lasts longer than a blood sugar spike from carbs. That said, you can’t function on eggs alone… you need some carbs to keep your body fueled up and energetic.
Not only are fruits tasty, they are also a great source of healthy carbs and sugars that will give you a quick boost in energy. In fact, eating an apple will give you more energy than a cup of coffee ever will, because it actually fuels your body with carbs, rather than acting as a stimulant for your nervous system.
Nuts (and Nut Butters)
When balanced with something like an apple and consumed in moderate quantities, nuts and nut butters will give you a sustained boost of energy that will start with the sugars and carbs from the fruit and continue through with the fats and proteins of the nuts. This will keep you fuller, longer and you won’t get an extreme spike in energy that results in a crash later.
(Note: try to avoid nut butters with added sugar)
Speaking of combining proteins, fats, and carbs, there’s a reason why trail mix is such a great snack for the trail… while you’re out exerting yourself physically, the mix of nuts, dried berries, and even a little chocolate provide the right balance for keeping you filled up and full of energy. Again, the carbs provide a quick jolt and the proteins and fats backfill with a sustained burn of fuel.
As the umbrella category for all kinds of beans, lentils, and peas, legumes are in some ways a balanced meal all by themselves. They are full of complex carbs and protein that your body needs to function at a high level over long periods of time, and will keep you feeling full so that you’ll burn excess fat instead of needing to consume more.
This one might be a little counter intuitive for some, since honey is very sweet. But in actuality, honey is an amazing energy source (some refer to it as “nature’s energy drink”). It’s extremely low on the glycemic index which means it’s sugars are much more complex and harder to break down, but it still processes quick enough to provide you with a quick jolt of healthy energy when you need it.
Spinach is loaded up with iron, an essential nutrient your body needs to absorb energy efficiently. Many people who have low energy levels often have an iron deficiency and would benefit from eating more iron rich vegetables like spinach.
Eating these foods on a regular basis will help you feel more energized and are great for your overall health in many ways. They will help you feel full and will help you slim down simultaneously when eaten in moderate quantities, since it will push your body to use its reserves instead of urging you to eat more.
What questions do you have about energy and nutrition? Leave a comment below and we’ll help you answer them!
This article was originally posted on NatureAdvanced.com April 2018