When you’re trying to keep energy levels high, one of the most important things to remember is to never skip meals. Once you go more than five hours without food, your body starts running on empty. Hunger starts to overwhelm your senses, leading to thoughtless food choices (like hitting the nearest fast food joint or vending machine.)
Instead, rely on small snacks of about 150-200 calories that can help replenish your energy at a slow-and-steady pace until it’s time for your next meal. You can use these picks, which have extra energy-boosting power, as your snack. Or, eat them as part of a meal on days you know you need that extra boost as a pre-workout snack.
So forgo the energy drinks and cups of coffee to boost your energy. Instead, try incorporating these 10 healthy foods to get a natural pep in your step.
Start your morning off with whole grains. Carbs are the body’s primary source of energy. And they're not as evil as you think. Whole grains, like oatmeal, are absorbed slower, giving you a longer-lasting boost. Oats also contain B vitamins like niacin, thiamin, and folate, which work together to help your body metabolize energy.
If you’re looking for a quick boost before a workout, yogurt is an easy grab-and-go snack. Yogurt contains lactose, a milk sugar, which is easily used for energy. It also has a good amount of protein, which helps slow down the absorption of that lactose, making the energy boost last longer.
Shrimp are low in calories and contain vitamin B12, which helps with energy metabolism. This crustacean also has a nice amount of omega-3 fat, shown to help boost energy and mood.
Worried about the cholesterol in shrimp? Don’t be. The latest Dietary Guidelines Committee Report recommended eliminating the existing cholesterol guidelines (of 300mg per day or less) as the scientific evidence is just not strong enough. They concluded that eating high amounts of cholesterol in foods like shrimp and whole eggs, doesn’t raise blood cholesterol.
For a quick fix, grab a handful of juicy strawberries—they’re in season right now. Natural sugar from fruit (aka fructose) is a better choice than the kind you'd get in a candy bar since fruit also contains fiber, which helps your body more slowly absorb the sweet stuff.
Hummus is a Mediterranean dish made from pureed chickpeas, sesame seed paste, olive oil, and lemon juice. Chickpeas are composed of carbs, protein, and fat. This means you’ll get a nice boost of energy from the carbs, while the protein and fat help stabilize blood sugar by slowing down carb absorption. Enjoy hummus as a dip for vegetables or use it as a condiment on sandwiches.
A recent Swedish study found that nitrates contained in spinach may help increase the efficiency of our mitochondria, which helps produce energy in our cells. Although more research is needed, it’s just another reason to stick to Popeye’s No.1 power food.
Almonds contain magnesium, an electrolyte needed for proper muscle function. Studies have found that folks with low magnesium levels tend to tire out more quickly during exercise.
These babies also provide a ton of B-vitamins like niacin, folate, thiamin, and riboflavin, which help convert food to energy.
This easy to tote snack is a perfect pre-workout snack. Not only are bananas brimming with B-vitamins and fiber, which help promote long-lasting energy, they also are a good source of potassium, which helps with muscle function.
I’m talking about air-popped popcorn, not the calorie and fat-laden movie theater popcorn. Many folks are surprised to learn that popcorn is a whole grain. The air-popped version contains about 30 calories per cup, so you can have 3 or 4 cups without thinking twice. Plus, popcorn contains plenty of fiber to keep you satisfied longer.
OK, so it's not a food, but it is one of the most important nutrients (yes, water is considered an essential nutrient). With two-thirds of our body made of water, it is important to stay hydrated. Water helps control body temperature, digestion, and acts as a medium in many metabolic processes in the body, including energy production. Although 8 cups of water per day is the classic recommendation, the amount of water you need varies from person to person. Find out how much water you should drink each day.