It seems that in this fast-paced world we’re living in today, where all of the information you could possibly want is literally right at your fingertips, people are more confused than ever about basic human health. So what do we do? We turn to the internet to figure out how to get better sleep, what high energy foods to eat, and which exercises will provide us with the bodies of our dreams as quickly as possible. After all, time is of the essence and we need results now! Lucky for you, we’re here to answer all of your questions, starting with what high energy foods you should be eating to keep your glucose levels steady and your stamina strong.
High Energy Foods: Fruits & Vegetable
Foods that are high in fiber, like apples, tend to take the body longer to digest, which provides a lingering feeling of fullness. They are also high in fructose, a natural sugar found in fruits, that provides a spike in glucose levels resulting in higher energy levels, that come on quickly. This is a great snack if you need immediate energy. If you are interested in keeping your energy levels higher for longer periods of time, but still need energy now try adding a protein like nuts butter or greek yogurt to your apple snack.
If you’re looking for a nutritious way to provide your body with a quick spike in energy that doesn’t need to last very long, then banana is ideal. Between the natural sugar and the high fiber content of this snack, you’ll feel a spike in your energy in no time. For energy that lasts a little longer, and helps to keep your glucose levels steady try pairing your banana with a protein like peanut butter, or a complex carb like oatmeal.
A study by FreeLife International has shown that there is a strong correlation between athletic performance and goji berry consumption. Those who consumed goji berry juice were less likely to report feelings of fatigue, and more likely to report having more expendable energy throughout the day. It is theorized that the energy comes from the balanced and complimentary high carbohydrate and protein content of the goji berry. Other factors that may help increase energy include the presence of iron as well as vitamin A. According to The FASEB Journal, a vitamin A deficiency reduces energy production by as much as 30%.
It is a common misconception that all fruits give you a spike in energy that is not very long-lasting. While oranges do contain fructose which helps energy levels increase shortly after consumption, they also contain high levels of vitamin C, potassium, and folate. These ingredients are what help the orange to provide a steady stream of energy over a longer time period.
Iron is incredibly important to the production of energy within the body, and spinach is packed with a crucial nutrient. An iron deficiency can cause physical and mental exhaustion. Not getting enough of this nutrient has also been shown to decrease a person’s immunity. Incorporating fresh spinach into salads is a great way to benefit from the intense amount of iron available through this leafy green.
To improve iron absorption, eat iron-rich foods paired with foods rich in vitamin C.
Carbohydrates are essential for energy production, but it’s important to make sure that you’re choosing complex carbohydrates rather than simple carbohydrates that your body will burn through faster. Complex carbohydrates, like sweet potatoes, help to keep the glucose levels steady within the body and allow for long-lasting energy production. The high levels of beta-carotene, or vitamin A, and vitamin C in sweet potatoes also work together to help fight off the fatigue that you may feel midday.
High Energy Foods: Protein & Dairy
If ever there was a snack worthy of the title ‘superfood’ the almond would be it, especially when it comes to energy production. The amount of protein, manganese, copper, and riboflavin found within a single handful of almonds is enough to boost your energy level and keep it high. While the manganese and copper work together to keep your energy levels high throughout your body by neutralizing toxins found within cells, the riboflavin aids the protein in oxygen-based energy production.
Most beans (aside from green peas, string green beans, and green lima beans) are considered to be both a protein and a carbohydrate. This is incredibly important because these two macronutrients are essential to the production of energy, and it cannot be completed without them both. The fact that they are a protein that is also a vegetable means that beans are a wonderful choice for both omnivores and vegetarians to increase their energy levels.
The energy that can be made from brazil nuts comes mainly from their high fat caloric content. These fats are mostly mono-unsaturated fatty acids however that helps to lower LDL (bad cholesterol) and increase HDL (good cholesterol). In addition to being high energy foods, brazil nuts also contain more selenium per serving than any other natural food source. Getting enough selenium in your diet is important to help prevent coronary artery disease and certain cancers. As an added bonus it is also a remarkable mood booster.
Edamame is a cooked soybean, and soybeans are a good source of B-complex vitamins, which help assist the body in breaking down simple and complex carbohydrates to manufacture energy. Edamame also contains carbohydrates, fiber, and protein, all of which work together to provide the body with the building blocks that it needs to form sustainable and long-lasting energy.
Eggs provide an extraordinary amount (97%) of usable protein. A single serving of eggs (2 large eggs or 100 grams) provides the body with thirteen grams of protein, which equates to about 25% of your daily value. Don’t limit your dietary intake of eggs to just breakfast though, they also make for a great after-workout snack. Not only will this high energy food help boost your endurance but it also contains essential amino acids that are needed to rebuild muscles.
Say goodbye to any brand of yogurt that isn’t greek, and say hello to more nutrients and energy when you switch it out for any brand of plain greek yogurt. You will cut your simple carbohydrate, and sodium intake in half without losing your calcium. You’ll enjoy more protein, and magnesium, both of which are vital to energy production, and a steady release of energy. When you buy plain greek yogurt, you are able to flavor it yourself with any number of fruits, nuts, or spices that you choose to make a healthier version of your favorite flavor. Plain varieties can even be seasoned to make a tangy vegetable dip.
Lean meats, including pork, beef, chicken, and turkey, are all sources of protein that also contain an amino acid called tyrosine. The body uses the protein provided by these lean meats to increase energy production, rebuild muscles, and make necessary hormones. Tyrosine is used to increase levels of dopamine and norepinephrine (brain chemicals) that help you to feel more focused and alert throughout the day. Without the ability to stay sharp, this energy is fairly useless to your body.
Peanut butter, as well as other nut butter, are high energy source foods. Although many of them will be high in caloric fuel no matter which brand or type you choose to buy, but there are a few things that you can look for to make sure you’re capitalizing on the nutrients profile, without adding unnecessary sugar to your diet. First of all, make sure that your peanut butter is all-natural. The ingredient list should really on read ‘peanuts’. This will make sure that you’re getting the most nutrients out of this food, without packing in the extra sugar that accompanies more popular brands. Secondly, make sure that you are sticking to a 2 tablespoon serving, whether you’re mixing it in with your morning oatmeal, or dipping your apples in it. This will ensure that you aren’t increasing your calorie intake beyond a healthy level.
Pistachios are high energy foods thanks to their winning combination of protein, fiber, and monounsaturated fats, not to mention the fact that they taste great. The fats found in pistachio are known to lower LDL (bad cholesterol) while increasing HDL (good cholesterol). The protein will work hard to provide you with usable energy, while the fiber will keep you feeling fuller, longer, and keep your glucose levels steady. Having to shell the pistachios before you eat them may seem inconvenient, but it’s actually helpful in making sure that you don’t overdo it at snack time.
The ingredients in pumpkin seed including manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, and zinc are used to aid in the production of energy that is created from the protein and healthy fats that the seeds also provide. Fiber content within pumpkin seeds makes sure that you continue to feel full and satisfied long after you’ve eaten. High energy foods, do not tend to come in the form of seeds, but if you’re looking for a great energy source in seed form for snack time, it doesn’t get much better than the pumpkin seed.
In addition to being a great natural source of omega 3 fatty acids, salmon is also high in protein and vitamin B6, which are both necessary for energy production. It is true that without protein-energy production would be limited, but protein is also important to repairing and healing muscles, ligaments, and tendons after a workout. Most diets could handle, and even require an increased amount of protein in order to not only repair these damages but also to produce enough energy to do so.
High Energy Foods: Grains
Air Popped Popcorn
Do not confuse air-popped popcorn with the instant microwavable variety for nutrients, and please don’t destroy this healthy snack by smothering it in butter and salt. Plain air-popped popcorn is a whole grain carbohydrate, that provides a kick of fiber to keep you going long after you’ve finished your snack. The nice thing about air-popped popcorn is that it provides that crunch you may want from chips or crackers while filling you up more based on volume and nutrients alone.
Magnesium is an essential nutrient for energy production, and a single cup of brown rice will provide you with 88% of your daily value. Magnesium is needed to synthesize fatty acids and for carbohydrates and proteins to produce energy. During energy production magnesium can also be found within the mitochondria of cells protecting them from the potential damage of free radicals.
Oatmeal is packed with fiber, which is the main reason that it’s such a great breakfast food. The complex carbohydrates in oatmeal will provide your body with the energy it needs, while the fiber ensures that the energy is proportionately disbursed for hours. Fiber takes quite a bit of time for the body to digest, so not only will your energy boost last longer, but you will likely feel more full for a longer period of time. Your glucose levels will be unlikely to spike or crash while your body is busy digesting these high energy foods, so you’ll be more likely to feel focused and alert after an oatmeal breakfast.
Buy unflavored varieties and spice them up yourself with fruits, nuts, spices, and even peanut butter!
Not only is quinoa a gluten-free grain, making it a viable option regardless of dietary restrictions, but it also contains more protein than any other grain or rice. In fact it is considered a complete source of protein making this the perfect snack for after any workout, to fuel your body with the energy, and muscle repairing proteins that it needs. Quinoa does of course also provide your body with complex carbohydrates that are readily available for energy production.
High Energy Foods: Beverages
Coffee is an extremely popular choice for an early morning, mid-afternoon, and even early evening quick boost of energy. The caffeine content of a small cup of coffee is enough to temporarily improve your mental focus and physical energy, but beware of drinking too much at once. When it comes to caffeine consumption less is often more. It is actually more beneficial to your energy levels to consume a few smaller cups of coffee throughout the day, than one or two large doses. It is also important to be aware of how late in the day you take your last coffee break, as the caffeine can inhibit nightly sleep, which would have negative effects on your energy levels in the long run.
If you aren’t much of a coffee drinker but are interested in getting the same quick energy boost that it provides don’t worry, you might be able to find it in tea. The amount of caffeine found in tea leaves is actually higher than that found in coffee beans, but when both drinks are brewed the amount of caffeine drops dramatically in most teas. Although coffee will more frequently have higher levels of caffeine in it than tea, the same energy boost can be achieved with small and semi-frequent doses of tea throughout the day.
You may be aware that your body can confuse thirst for hunger, but did you know that it can also confuse thirst as fatigue? According to nutritionist Keith Ayoob, EdD, RD, without adequate water intake you can be left feeling tired or lethargic throughout the day. Basic hydration is also a vital component to helping the body to keep each system functioning properly and together in synchronization.
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