In our constant search to find ways to overcome exhaustion and boost our energy, we're often turning an "energy in the bottle" drink, packed with sugar and caffeine, then repeating.
Not only is a reliance on energy drinks potentially bad for the waistline and nutrition, studies have shown constant fatigue is bad for the immune system and your mind.
The solution? Leave the beverage aisle and head to the fresh foods and deli to unlock natural energy contained within many iron-rich, high-protein and healthy fat foods as an alternative for a true boost you can feel good about. Try these six of our favorites to get started.
An excellent source of complex carbs and healthy protein, this fantastic grain is also a good source of folate, zinc, magnesium, phosphorus and several antioxidants. Mix some cooked quinoa in with a lunch salad for an energy boost that may make your afternoon go a little bit smoother. Quinoa can also be used as a breakfast option with fresh fruit and skim milk.
Check out this collection of great quinoa recipes, including desserts.
In addition to helping maintain heart health, omega-3 fatty acids are essential for brain activity and energy production. Wild caught salmon provides plenty of omega-3 fatty acids to help keep you going strong when the going gets tough. Four ounces of baked or broiled wild caught pink salmon comes in at about 170 calories. That’s lots of benefits for such a low calorie load.
Since one ounce of raw almonds (about 24 nuts) packs about 160 calories, you have to exercise a little caution with these nutritional powerhouses. If you’ve got the discipline, these little wonders can be a great “pick-me-up” snack. They contain lots of Vitamin E, magnesium and protein; a combo which helps sustain your energy for hours.
High in fiber, oatmeal slows the release of glucose into your bloodstream. This action saves you from spikes in blood sugar and excess insulin production. Adding easy to prepare oatmeal to your breakfast rotation helps you achieve consistent energy levels and avoid mid-morning slumps. Combine oatmeal, almonds, dried fruit and our next energy boosting food for even better results.
While all yogurts are a great source of calcium, protein, phosphorous and the dynamic duo of vitamins B6 and B12, plain, nonfat Greek yogurt is truly the superstar of this family of healthy foods. Greek yogurt has a thicker and creamier texture because the liquid whey is strained out. As a result, it is lower in lactose and has twice the protein of its thinner cousins. This extra protein will not help sustain your energy but it will also help you feel full longer. As an added bonus, the probiotics in yogurt help regulate your digestive system and maintain your immune system. You can tame the tangy taste with the natural sweetness of fresh fruit. Avoid “fruit on the bottom” Greek yogurts as they often contain added sugars.
Edamame is a fancy name for immature soybeans in the pod. They are rich in energizing nutrients, particularly B vitamins, protein and manganese. The B-complex vitamins are essential for energy production as they help break down carbs and transport oxygen. One cup of shelled soybeans from edamame packs over 8 grams of hunger stopping fiber and 17 grams of protein. Consume them raw as a nutrient rich snack or add them to your favorite dishes to boost your long-term energy.
Try adding a few of these six energy boosting foods to your diet, maybe pass on the "energy in a bottle".. and ramp up your healthy lifestyle!