Get your boost with these powerful foods.
It’s not uncommon for dieters to feel low on energy. Restricting calories, limiting carbs, and other dietary changes can easily make you feel dragged out and depleted. Or maybe you’re not on a diet but still feel a lack of energy. This is also common and very likely due to what you’re eating or not eating.
Why are you feeling dragged out? Simply put, food provides the fuel your body needs to function. Some foods are high-grade fuel, enabling you to cruise efficiently for long distances. Other foods are low-grade, leaving you sputtering and running on fumes. Choose high-grade foods to gain and maintain the energy you need for life.
A Good Start
To get a head start on the day, you’re going to need an energizing breakfast. Keep your blood sugar balanced throughout the day with a healthy combination of fiber and protein in the morning. Protein is highly important and comes from low-fat milk, yogurt, or eggs. Fiber should be added in via whole-grain cereal, toast, or bagels. Look for whole-grain products that contain at least three grams of fiber per serving to provide long-lasting energy stores. An example of an energizing breakfast is oatmeal (high in soluble fiber) with low-fat milk.
Skipping the first meal of the day or filling up on empty calories will leave you feeling zapped and sluggish come mid-morning. A sweet breakfast like syrup on white flour pancakes, jelly piled on white toast, or a cinnamon roll may taste good and give you an initial boost but later cause your blood sugar and energy levels to plummet. Healthier alternatives include whole-grain pancakes or whole-wheat bread French toast topped with fruit.
Feeling an afternoon slump? When a siesta isn’t an option, try a quick pick-me-up snack. Here are a few ideas. A small 6-ounce container of Greek yogurt will provide sustained energy. Containing as much as 20 grams of protein, Greek yogurt packs in four times the amount of protein as regular yogurt.
High in protein, fiber, and nutrition, nuts are a quick way to fill up. Eat a handful of almonds or spread some peanut butter on a banana to satisfy your hunger and get filled with a boost of energy. Just remember that nuts are high in calories, so you’ll want to limit your snack to a quarter-cup.
Beans are another great source of energy. High in fiber and protein, beans can easily be added into your meals. You can also snack on hummus dip with veggies or whole-grain crackers.
Make the Most of Meals
Depending on your choices, the larger meals of your day—lunch and dinner—can either weigh you down or keep you moving. And it starts with portion control. Ever eaten so much you don’t feel like getting out of your seat?
Don’t do it again! Avoid overeating by limiting your lunches to fewer than 1,000 calories. You should also avoid carbohydrate-filled main dishes like white pasta or white rice and balance carbs with foods rich in protein like lean meats, poultry, or fish.
A salad made with the right ingredients can be a great low-calorie, high-energy meal option. Dark leafy greens, colorful veggies, a source of protein like grilled chicken or chickpeas, and a low-fat vinegar-oil based salad dressing is a recipe for long-lasting energy.
Women are particularly prone to iron deficiencies, which can cause fatigue. Include a source of iron with each meal to ensure you’re getting enough of this vital nutrient. Iron-rich foods include beans, spinach, lentils, meat, fish, and poultry.
No matter what you’re eating, swap processed food with real food and you’ll likely notice a real difference in your energy levels. Food in its original form contains more nutrients and no additives, making it high-grade fuel.
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