Are you low on energy? Do you find that food can drag you down? Instead of feeling more energized are you finding yourself more fatigued? Juggling career, life, family all can zap the energy out of you. The best solution is to eat small meals of energy-promoting foods several times throughout the day, rather than waiting and waiting until you’re ravenous and you gorge on a huge meal made up of all the wrong choices. With that in mind, we offer you a roster of foods that will keep your batteries charged, ready and rearing for your Kiama Group Fitness program and avoid the dreaded mid arvo crash!
Oats are low on the glycemic index, as they have a lot of fibre, which means that your body gets a steady stream–rather than a tide–of energy as carbohydrates gradually flow into your bloodstream. Oats also contain the energizing–and stress-lowering–B vitamin family, which helps transform carbs into usable energy.
Caffeine is what makes coffee the morning cup of ambition that it is; it’s caffeine that blocks a chemical called adenosine that otherwise interferes with energy-boosting neurotransmitters. So having that morning cuppa isn’t going to hurt you and can actually make you more productive at work. But remember, more than two cups of coffee per day can be counterproductive, since the initial high is followed by mild withdrawal symptoms, one of which is fatigue. Also, be sure to drink more water when drinking coffee, as caffeine acts as a mild diuretic.
Lentils provide both carbohydrates and protein, making them a great addition to any meal. They’re also a great source of fibre–which translates to a slow release of glucose–as well as B vitamins, iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc, calcium and copper. And they’re low in fat and calories to boot. Some other good choices include chickpeas and kidney beans.
Without water, your body cannot generate energy. Water makes it possible for your system to digest, absorb and transport nutrients. It also helps regulate body temperature. When you’re dehydrated, your cells receive nutrients for energy less efficiently, and your body can’t properly expend heat through sweating. Both conditions lead to fatigue. Aim to drink 2L of water a day.
The sugar in bananas is an easily digested form of carbohydrate. Bananas also provide a lot of potassium, an electrolyte that helps maintain normal nerve and muscle function. Unlike some nutrients, potassium isn’t stored by the body for long periods of time, so your potassium level can drop during times of stress or during strenuous exercise, when the nutrient is lost through excessive sweating.
Turkey contains an amino acid called tyrosine that, when digested, helps to manufacture the brain chemicals like dopamine. These “uppers” bring your brain to full attention, improving your mental function.
Chocolate can elevate your energy levels by way of certain bioactive compounds such as tyramine and phenylethylamine, says a study in the Journal of Food Science. Chocolate has also been claimed to improve anemia, awaken the appetite, aid in digestion, improve longevity, and increase sexual appetite. Chocolate does contain sugar and caffeine along with fat and calories, so consume in moderation and, when possible, opt for dark chocolate, which has the fewest calories and the most antioxidants.
If you eat a strict low-fat diet, iron deficiency can develop. Iron is a component of the haemoglobin in red blood cells and is found in the myoglobin in muscles and other tissues. When iron levels are inadequate, the cells in your body slowly suffocate from lack of oxygen and burn carbohydrates inefficiently. Consequently, you feel sluggish, can’t concentrate, and are exhausted after minimal effort. As red meat is the most readily absorbed form of iron, treat yourself to a high-quality steak (skip the Quarter Pounder) once a week to maintain healthy iron stores.
Not all fats are created equal. Saturated fats tend to make you lethargic by lowering the amount of circulating oxygen in your bloodstream. 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 canola oil.
Research suggests that magnesium-rich foods such as yogurt can provide an energy boost. Magnesium activates enzymes that are important for protein and carbohydrate metabolism. Magnesium also helps in the release of energy by transferring the key phosphate molecule to adenosine triphosphate, the explosive energy source you use when you lift weights. Other low-fat dairy foods to make room for are low-fat cheese, skim milk, and low-fat cottage cheese.