Our food choices affect our lives on a daily basis, without us even realizing it! Eating foods that give your energy will help you every step of the way, from being able to think clearly at work, pushing ourselves during our workouts, and feeling energized to make it through the day. Ever experience the mid-afternoon slump? Reaching for that coffee or pastry may not be the answer, and may even backfire.
Food has a direct impact on our physical and mental performance, which is why a poor decision at lunch or in the afternoon can derail your efficiency.
Most foods we eat are converted into glucose in our body, which provides the energy our brains, blood cells and muscles. The mid-afternoon slump occurs when we start to run low on glucose, making it difficult to stay focused. Usually when we experience these symptoms, we reach for a quick fix like a sugar-laden baked good, granola bar, fancy frap or soda. These foods do result in a rapid burst of energy, however, it causes a crash just as quickly. Foods high in fat also make matters tough as they slow down our digestive processes and absorption of nutrients, making us tired.
It is key to plan and prevent the slump from occurring by eating healthy foods that give you energy all throughout the day – not all at once. The top strategy I tell my clients is to have a snack or meal every 3-4 hours balanced with quality complex carbs or healthy fats and protein. Packing healthy snacks that keep our blood sugars stable will help you stay alert and not lose your concentration with your stomach grumbling away.
6 Best Foods That Give You Energy
1) Citrus fruit – Citrus is like oranges are nature’s antidepressants, helping calm anxiety and stressors of the day. They also have the added bonus of boosting your mood and energy levels through their natural sugars. I recommend pairing them with some Greek yogurt for extra protein to slow the release of carbs into your body for sustained energy.
2) Dried Fruit and Nuts – dried fruit are high in natural sugar to give you an energy boost while nuts help to sustain the energy and keep you fuller for longer. Beating fatigue and that midafternoon slump. Make sure you portion out your serving size as it is easy to go overboard and not realize you have packed hundreds of calories back in mere minutes.
3) Mint – mint has a unique power to give you a perk while fighting off your stresses. It also has the bonus power of aiding digestion when your lunch doesn’t sit well so you aren’t distracted by gurgling of digestive processes.
4) Dark chocolate – full of antioxidants, 1 piece a day does wonders for fighting off cravings and fatigue through small amounts of naturally occurring caffeine. Choose one that is a minimum of 70% cocoa. Pair it with a 1tbsp of peanut butter or nut butter of choice for a bit more staying power so you don’t get hungry shortly after.
5) Eggs – an amazing source of choline that enhances memory and reaction time, as well as a balanced protein source to keep you satisfied any time of day. Try a poached egg on sprouted grain toast for an afternoon pick-me-up.
6) Casein – the slower digesting counterpart to whey protein found in milk, provides a gradual release and absorption of protein into your body to keep you full between meals. Pair with some frozen fruit and a spoonful of ground flaxseed in a smoothie for some fiber and carbs for an energy boost that’ll keep you going until dinner.
These are my top go-to foods that give you energy and fight off cravings! And don’t forget to use the Body Beautiful mobile app to track your calories for the day, to make sure you stay on track with your recommended daily calorie intake.