Our bodies are interconnected supermachines. Everything in our body affects one another, from physical to mental health and diet. These machines may not always perform perfectly, but how we treat our bodies and food can help improve our daily lives. The food we eat fuels us. No one enjoys feeling exhausted, especially when it seems like you've had a great night's sleep and done everything right but find your energy flagging midafternoon. It's also far too easy in today's always-on, connected world to burn the candle at both ends.
When your energy slumps, what can you do? Some of us may turn to coffee or a quick sugar rush, and while there should never be any shame associated with food, too many over-processed snacks can add up. Sugar and caffeine can get you a quick rush, but then it's often followed by a crash which could make you feel more tired than before.
To keep your energy going during the day, reach for complex carbs with protein and fiber. Which foods are the best at keeping you awake and energized? Here are a few we love to add to our daily diet.
You may be scratching your head when we mention drinking water for energy, but did you know that dehydration can be one of the reasons you feel tired? If you find your energy flagging in the afternoon and realize the last time you drank water was in the morning or have entirely forgotten about it, reach for a glass and take a drink. Water carries nutrients we need for energy through our cells, and when you're not drinking enough, you can start feeling sluggish.
Become dehydrated enough, and it could lead to suffering headaches, poor concentration, and even a mood dip!
Science Says: Chia Seeds
Small but mighty, the health benefits of chia seeds are many. Chia seeds can help blood sugars, boost weight loss, help you feel fuller longer, and come with 10 grams of fiber with 5 grams of protein per ounce. These seeds are also one of the best plant sources of omega-3s. Chia seeds are a powerful combination of proteins, healthy fats, and fiber. The fact that they are low-carb means they don't cause spikes or drops in blood sugar or insulin levels, giving you an excellent energy boost needed during the day.
Surprisingly, reaching for your favorite piece of dark chocolate candy could be a perfect pick-me-up for your energy. One of the chemicals found in dark chocolate is called theobromine, similar to caffeine. That tasty piece of dark chocolate can boost your mood and enhance your energy. Dark chocolate contains nutrients like iron, copper, magnesium, zinc, and phosphorus. In addition to the chemical theobromine, coca has phenethylamine, a dopamine-releasing chemical (a type of neurotransmitter) that works to help mood and attention. Did you know you can eat a 1.6-ounce low-lat dark chocolate bar daily for excellent health benefits without worrying about overindulging? Now you do!
If you're not vegan or have no allergies or issues digesting them, adding eggs to your daily diet will give you plenty of nutrients and at least 7 grams of energy-producing protein. Eggs also contain leucine, an amino acid known to stimulate energy production in our cells and help boost the breakdown of fat to produce energy. Rich in vitamin B, which assists enzymes in performing, try adding an egg to any meal to keep your vitality up!
You might see the suggestion to switch from white rice to brown rice as a healthier choice, but it is also a very nutritious, satisfying food packed with fiber. A half cup of brown rice delivers two grams of fiber and manganese. Manganese is a mineral needed for enzymes that break down carbs and proteins, turning them into energy. As brown rice is low on the glycemic index, there's less risk of blood sugar spikes.
Beans are considered a powerhouse food that delivers essential nutrients and is a great plant source of protein. With their high protein amounts and slow-digesting carbs, they can help maintain your energy levels throughout the day. Beans also contain antioxidants that help fight inflammation and further promote energy.
Look to the black bean for the best bean to add to your diet. Just ¼ of a cup of black beans delivers 7 grams of fiber, 25% of your recommended daily value, and 10 grams of protein, 20% of your daily value.
When you need an energy boost, reach for a banana to add to your breakfast, lunch, or snack. Bananas contain three natural sugars, sucrose, fructose, and glucose. Along with fiber, a banana can give you a sustained and substantial boost in energy. Researchers found two bananas provide enough power for a high-impact 90 minutes workout! No wonder athletes all over the world include them in their diets!
You might have heard you must cut all carbs for a healthier diet. We're here to remind you that not all carbs are bad! There is such a thing as good carbs. One of the better sources of healthier carbohydrates comes from oatmeal. However, there is a difference between instant oatmeal and cooking it yourself. While they are nutritionally the same, the vital difference is the glycemic index—the measure of how quickly the body digests food and how much that food causes blood sugar spikes.
Cooked oatmeal has a lower glycemic index, meaning you can avoid the carb rush and crash.
Are there foods that increase fatigue?
Some food and drinks may increase your feeling of fatigue and low energy. If at all possible, when struggling with energy levels, try and avoid:
- High fructose, high in sugar foods and syrup or honey
- White bread
- Baked goods
- Highly caffeinated drinks
- Heavily processed foods
You don't have to cut them all out, but when experiencing the afternoon urge to nap despite having a good night's sleep, try to reach for something with less sugar and more proteins and fiber.
We hope we've helped you through your day with enough energy to keep you going!