Forget the energy drinks, supplements or packaged sports bars — get your zip from naturally energizing foods. Try these 5 to get extra oomph every day.
1) Whole-Wheat Bread
The body’s primary source of energy is carbs. I’m not referring to jelly beans and lollipops (a.k.a. simple sugars). If you load up on them, you’ll end up hitting the wall within 20 minutes. Whole grains burn off slower, giving you longer-lasting vigor. They also contain loads of B-vitamins, which work together to boost energy and your metabolism.
Other whole-grain sources: Whole-grain cereal (like raisin bran or shredded wheat), brown rice and oatmeal. Kashi makes great whole grain hot and cold cereals that we love.
Need an immediate burst of energy? Have a handful of strawberries. They’re coming into season now at your farmers’ market or produce grocer — this means they’re sweet and juicy. Strawberries also contain fiber, which helps your body more slowly absorb the carbohydrates you eat. Fresh fruits make a great mid-afternoon snack, especially for that 3pm slump.
Other energy-boosting fruit: cherries, apricots …. just about any fresh fruit will give you a lift.
Believe it or not, one cooked cup of broccoli actually contains as much vitamin C as an orange. Why is that vitamin important? Well, an Arizona State University study found that 1 in 3 women were not getting enough in their diets. After upping their intake to 500 milligrams a day, they reported feeling better and more energized. Forgo vitamin C supplements and just up your broccoli snacking or sides. (This applies to men, too).
Other vitamin C-packed veggies: cabbage, radishes and spinach
To keep energy levels constant, you need to get enough iron. Unfortunately, iron is the most common nutrient deficiency in the US (and in the whole world). This mineral helps transport oxygen to wherever your body needs it by hooking onto red blood cells. Common iron deficiency symptoms? Low energy and fatigue.
Not only does pork contain iron, it’s also a good source of the B-vitamins like thiamine and niacin, which are both involved with your metabolism. Choose lean cuts of pork, like tenderloin and pork chops — higher fat foods can weigh you down and make you sluggish.
Other lean proteins: beef tenderloin, chicken breast and shrimp
Our bodies are two-thirds water. Water helps control body temperature and digestion and, of course, we need it to produce energy. Even slight dehydration can make you tired. Classic recommendations say 8 cups a day, but this can vary per person. Keep a glass by your side and sip away all day. And don’t count out food — eating foods with high water content (fruits and veggies especially) count towards your daily water needs.
The Most Important Thing
Don’t skip meals! Too much time between meals causes your body to start running on fumes, and you’ll be more likely to overindulge at your next meal. Eating larger portions then makes you feel tired and sluggish, too. Stick to 3 balanced meals and 2-3 small, healthy snacks daily — this way you’ll replenish your energy at a slow and steady pace.