Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Eat These 7 Energy Foods, Increase Energy Levels
If you’re starting an exercise routine, perhaps you’re doing so because you feel tired all the time and want to improve energy levels. You may feel your mood shift as your energy levels rise and fall throughout your day. If your car was moody or unreliable, you would probably look into getting fixed or maybe even get a new car altogether. Well, the whole body transplant hasn’t been invented yet, so for now you’ll have to fix the body you got. Starting a regular exercise program is a step in the right direction towards increasing energy levels, but you need to change your fuel, first.
As a fitness professional, I recommend solid meals that consist of whole, nutrient-rich, energy foods to my clients. Most have told me it’s hard to make all that food, or eat that way. I understand this. Eating healthy isn’t always convenient. It isn’t always cheap. But hey, what’s the alternative. You have low energy and feel like crap in large part because you eat crap. If you want to increase your energy levels, lose weight, or get a better body, you must work to change your eating habits.
I recognize that many of you are faced with long commutes, longer workdays, and family obligations that make it difficult, if not impossible, to follow. Many busy professionals fall into the trap of not eating at all for long stretches of the day, breaking for fast food, and then topping up with a huge supper. Clearly, this isn’t the way you increase energy. In fact, eating habits like this increase stress, irritability, decrease energy, and impair the function of your immune system.
Make sure you read every word of this. Don’t skip to the end.
Before I get into what specific energy foods are great for boosting sagging energy levels, let’s start with the basics. If you’re screwing up basic healthy eating and fat loss principles, the specific energy boosting foods can’t help you.
Let’s examine the 5 basic energy increasing tips a bit closer:
You should aim to eat 4-6 small meals per day. Spacing out your meals will help regulate your blood sugar and maintain good energy levels throughout the day.
Avoid drinking your calories whenever possible. Drinking liquid sugar like the kind found in fizzy pop, juices, sodas, and booze is the last thing you need when you’re trying to lose fat and increase energy. Stick with water and green tea. Make sure you get at least 8 glasses per day.
Fast food doesn’t equal fast energy. Grabbing high fat, high sodium foods made with low quality ingredients can increase your waistline and cholesterol, but not your energy levels.
Eat 5 to 10 servings of fiber-rich fruits and vegetables. Your energy levels will increase and you’ll get more done in less time as a result.
Eat healthy fats. Most North Americans consume way too may harmful saturated fats, and virtually eat almost no healthy fats. Good sources include fish, olive oil, raw almonds, just to name a few.
Take a half-hour each night to plan what you’re going to eat tomorrow. This is something that healthy people have in common. They don’t leave their nutrition to chance. Again, I know it’s not easy. I’m not going to stand here and tell you anything other than the truth. You might not want to hear it, but it doesn’t make it any less true. It's going to take time to clean, cut, and cook your own healthy food. It’s going to take effort to plan, shop, and prepare healthy meals.
But, you CAN do it.
And believe me, when you do, you’ll never feel like crawling under your desk at 3 o’clock for a nap, again. Okay, pep talk’s over. Now that you understand the basics, we can get a bit more specific. Certain foods have energy properties and nutrient profiles that help to increase alertness and energy.
Here’s my short list of the top 7 energy foods that you can eat to boost your energy levels:
Blueberries. Blueberries help fight off urinary tract infections and contain tons of antioxidants with cancer fighting properties.
Oranges. Oranges are an energy food that contains a valuable source of Vitamin C, increases iron absorption, and boost energy levels.
Spinach. Popeye was no dummy. Green vegetables contain powerful cancer-fighting compounds.
Salmon. This energy food is a top source of omega-3 essential fatty acids, and can help decrease your risk of heart disease and cancer. There is also some preliminary evidence that shows that fish oils can help increase fat loss.
Almonds. Snacking on almonds between meals can help to decrease you appetite, helping you to maintain or lose weight. They are a healthy fat and a rich source of protein. Stick with raw almonds though. Most roasted almonds are cooked in hydrogenated oils.
Olive Oil. Olive oil is a healthy monounsaturated fat that lowers bad cholesterol and increases heart-healthy good cholesterol. It should be in your kitchen.
Green Tea. Green tea is another great source of powerful antioxidants. With less than half the calories of coffee, it’s also a better energy boosting choice.
Source: Dale Andrew, M.A., Fitness Professional