While it is true that your body converts all food into energy, certain foods such as those high in fat and calories can leave you feeling fatigued as they require more energy to digest, may cause insulin spikes giving a quick burst of energy followed by tiredness.
If you find yourself lacking in energy mid-morning or mid-afternoon, feeling unproductive, out of flow or perhaps just missing the buzz of working in an office to keep your mood elevated, what and when you eat can have a profound effect on your energy levels.
Protein, healthy fats and complex carbohydrates release glucose into the blood gradually providing the body with a steady flow of energy. Eating smaller, healthy balanced meals more regularly will help regulate your blood glucose levels. It is trial and error to find the right diet for your individual body. Pay attention to the times of day you feel your energy levels slumping. B vitamins have a direct impact on your energy levels, your brain function and cell metabolism.
The best way to eat in order to feel full of energy is to follow a healthy, balanced, whole food diet.
Whilst this list is in no way exhaustive, the first five are my healthy go-to snacks or my emergency snacks when I need a quick boost. The remaining five are my favourite energy foods I consume several times a week.
- Bananas – a wonderful source of complex carbohydrates, potassium and vitamin B6
- Apples – Containing natural sugars for an instant pick-me-up (but without the sugar crash refined sugars give), and fiber, apples provide a slow and sustained energy release. Fruits & berries in general are high in vitamins and antioxidants.
- Nuts – These are energy dense packed with nutrients and healthy fats. Particularly walnuts which contain omega fatty acids.
- Dark Chocolate – The antioxidants in the cocoa increase blood flow throughout the body, can help improve your mood and reduce mental fatigue.
- Water – Even the mildest dehydration can leave you feeling zapped of energy affecting your concentration levels. Drink water even if you are not thirsty!
- Spinach – An excellent source of nutrients, iron and magnesium, I use spinach as a base for my smoothie most mornings, adding it to as many meals as I can.
- Avocado – Full of healthy fats, fiber and a great source of B vitamins which the body uses to convert food into energy.
- Quinoa – This seed is a great source of magnesium, fiber and protein providing lasting energy. It also contains many vitamins and minerals. Quinoa is high in carbohydrates however it has a low glycemic index.
- Salmon – High in Omega 3 fatty acids which can lower cholesterol, protein, vitamin B6 & B12, niacin and riboflavin, making it a great source to include in your diet.
- Eggs – Packed with protein and rich in B vitamins and nutrients for sustainable energy, eggs are one of the best all round foods. They contain more nutrients – vitamins, minerals, amino acids – per calorie than most other foods. Not only that, containing choline they boost brain health.