How many of you can relate to this…It's a typical work day and you eat your lunch around noon. You are feeling great after lunch and are thankful that you have satisfied your body's hunger need. Suddenly, the clock nears 2 p.m. and you begin to feel sluggish and in desperate need of a nap. If you could get a pillow and lay under your desk, you would. Instead, you seek out the vending machine in search of some type of caffeine.
Coffee, soda and chocolate are usually the top choices for that mid-day energy boost. Are you aware that certain foods have energy properties and nutrient contents that help to increase alertness and energy? I have put together a small list of foods and beverages that you can consume to help boost your energy levels during the day:
1. Kiwi is a small fruit that contains high levels of vitamin C, which is an important source of energy. Research has shown that people who lack the proper amount of vitamin C in their diet tend to feel more run down and sluggish. Other foods that are high in vitamin C are apples, broccoli, oranges, and green and red peppers.
2. Complex carbohydrates like those in black beans and other legumes help keep your blood sugar levels balanced throughout the day, providing a steady, slow-burning source of energy to make you feel awake. Another benefit to eating black beans is that they are a rich source of iron, an integral part of hemoglobin, which transports oxygen in the body, and key enzyme systems for energy production and metabolism
3. Cantaloupe is an extremely good source of energy due to its combination of B3, B6, dietary fiber, and folate. The B vitamins help the body process sugar and carbohydrates, and the fiber gradually distributes the sugars throughout your body, as needed.
4. Whole grain foods consistently send steady streams of glucose to the brain in order for it to function properly. Research indicates that eating whole grain breads and cereals for breakfast stabilizes blood sugar for up to 10 hours! This ultimately leads to increased levels of alertness, memory retention, and concentration throughout the day. Consuming whole grain foods is a great way to help boost your energy levels and reduce any stress that may affect your day!
5. Water is necessary for your body to produce energy, including digesting, absorbing and transporting nutrients. If you don't drink enough of it, your cells will be less able to receive the nutrients they need for energy, leaving you feeling sluggish. If plain water doesn't appeal to you, try spicing it up with a squeeze of lemon, lime or other citrus
6. Lean meats are essential for proper organ functioning and the maintaining of high energy levels. Lean protein is specifically important because it contains tyrosine, an amino acid that helps improve mental focus and functioning. Other foods that are also highly recommended because of their amounts of tyrosine are eggs, sardines, shellfish, and turkey.
Page 2 of 2 - The next time you are looking for a boost of energy, try including some high-energy foods instead of sugary, high- caffeine items. You can begin by packing these items in your lunch each day. Make them a part of your daily meal plan and monitor their effectiveness!
LaDale Walker, RD, LDN, of Middletown Family Wellness and Counseling is a registered dietician and licensed nutritionist. She can be reached at (302) 449-4166 or firstname.lastname@example.org.