Everyone wants more energy, but sometimes it can be elusive. There are many reasons why we feel tired and drained, including lack of sleep, too much stress, and not enough exercise. According to many experts, however, poor nutrition is the number one culprit when it comes to sluggishness. If you need more energy to help deal with the rigours of modern life, certain foods and drinks can give you an instant boost while also providing you with long-lasting nutritional benefits.
Breakfast plays a vital role in setting up energy levels for the day, and is the one meal people are most likely to forget. Having a good breakfast has been shown to improve alertness and concentration, while also preventing obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. Eggs are a fantastic option if you are looking for an energetic start to the day, providing a short-term energy boost while also promoting long-term nutrition.
According to Lisa Moskovitz, RD, CDN, a sports nutrition expert, counsellor and registered dietitian with NYC-based Nutrition Energy, “Egg yolks are naturally rich in B-vitamins, which are responsible for converting food into energy and they also have Vitamin D to maintain strong bones. Plus, they’re one of the best sources of protein, which is essential particularly after an intense training session when muscle breakdown occurs the most."
Other good choices for breakfast include whole grain breads, fruit, yoghurt, and oatmeal. It's important to eat the right mix of protein and carbohydrates while also paying attention to the sugar and fat content of your morning meal. While many commercial breakfast foods are high in sugar energy, they are likely to leave you feeling flat later in the morning. A similar thing can be said for coffee, a fantastic pick-up which does come with a come down an hour or two down the road. While caffeine can be used effectively to improve work and exercise performance, it's important not to rely on it as the only way to boost energy levels.
Nuts and dried fruits are a great way to boost energy levels between meals, with trail mix and similar products an easy way to keep yourself going throughout the day. “Nuts and dried fruit are the ideal combination of healthy fats, fibre and protein. While refined carbs that are void of fibre quickly break down into glucose for short bursts of energy, fibre helps slow down glucose-release so there is always a steady supply." says Moskovitz, who recommends making your own mixes to avoid the excess sugars and oils often added to commercial products.
Other popular energy foods that can be eaten alone or added to meals include bananas, almonds, dark chocolate, coconut, guarana, quinoa, goji berries, and pumpkin seeds. When it comes to meals, fresh salmon is always a great way to add a little energy to your life, due to the essential omega-3 fatty acids needed for energy production, brain activity, circulation, and heart health. Curry is also a great energy-booster, with turmeric, cinnamon, cumin, and other spices known to boost energy levels with antioxidants, normalise blood sugar levels, and promote good circulation.
The most important way to enhance your energy levels, however, is also the most simple. Drinking water throughout the day is a great way to keep your hydration levels in check and make sure your body is working as efficiently as possible. According to Maskovitz: “Dehydration kicks in much sooner and harder than starvation. Water is responsible for transporting all nutrients in the blood that we use for energy as well as getting rid of waste build-up that leads to fatigue. Without enough water, we cannot metabolize the food we eat into fuel and ultimately cease to function properly."