THE BEST FOODS FOR INCREASED ENERGY
By Lisa Coffman
We’ve all been there. Its mid-afternoon and you’re struggling to keep your eyes open. You grab a candy bar or another cup of coffee. But the next day, you’re back in the same situation. After days of this, you start to wonder whether or not there is a better option. The good news? There is. Food is vital to survival and good food is the basis for good health. A diet that is well-balanced and rich in nutrients will energize you all day.
Protein is vital for life. Your body breaks protein down into amino acids, which are then used to build new proteins. These new proteins help to keep your cells, and in turn, your organs, healthy. Making sure you have enough lean protein in your diet will ensure your body has the amino acids it needs to keep cells healthy. Lean protein also lets you stabilize your blood sugar for longer periods of time. By doing so, you avoid the crash that causes fatigue.
As well, lean protein contains iron, which supports energy. Iron is used for several things in the human body, one of which is to transport oxygen, and iron is vital to that process. When your cells get all the oxygen they need, you feel energized. Fish, seafood, poultry, pork, nuts, and legumes are all great options for getting the lean protein you need in your diet.
Fruits and Vegetables
Just as amino acids are essential to your health, so is a diet rich in fruits and vegetables. The vitamins and minerals contained in fruits and vegetables are essential for your body to function properly. Giving your body all the vitamins and minerals it needs enables you to function at an optimum level so you have enough energy to get through your day. Be sure to include a variety of colors, including superfoods like kale, spinach, blueberries, and raspberries. And don’t forget the typical ones, like carrots and bananas.
When you’re low on energy, it’s easy to turn to caffeine or sugary drinks. While caffeine isn’t a bad thing when consumed in moderation, it’s important to realize that it is only a crutch. It’ll help you feel energized for a while, but it masks an underlying poor diet. Caffeine and alcohol both dehydrate your body, so it’s important to limit their intake and drink plenty of water throughout the day. Sugary drinks (and foods) help you feel energized for a little while, but once the initial blood sugar high wears off, you’ll be even more tired than when you started. Be sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day, as being dehydrated can cause you to feel fatigued.
Variety in your meals is important. Carbohydrates are digested first and are the first food to raise your blood sugar after eating. Protein is next to be digested, then fat, and then fiber. When you eat a variety of different foods with each meal, like carbohydrates, protein, fat, and fiber your blood sugar is stable for a longer period of time. This also boosts your energy so you have ample to get you through the day.
Try this simple and delicious salad containing that all-important variety I was just talking about it. Your body will love it as much as you do.
¼ lb ham, sliced
2 hardboiled eggs, sliced
6 cups lettuce, chopped
2 medium tomatoes, diced
½ avocado, diced
1 cup chicken breast, cooked and diced
½ cup blue cheese
½ cup honey mustard dressing
In a large bowl, combine the lettuce and dressing.
Evenly divide the lettuce onto four plates or bowls.
On top of each bowl or plate, place the tomatoes in a line down the middle.
Evenly divide the remaining ingredients on either side of the tomatoes. Serve immediately and enjoy.