What type of foods do you eat? Do you notice the difference in your energy levels based on what types of food you consume in a day? The quality of foods that we eat contributes to the quality and quantity of activities that we do in a day making us more productive and alert. Food is our body’s main source of energy and our body uses this energy for all of its functions. It contains nutrients that when broken down in the gastrointestinal tract that releases energy that can be used by the body’s cells, tissues, and organs for its normal function, growth, and repair. Knowing which energy giving foods to eat will definitely help your metabolism.
Even when we sleep at night, we still expend a considerable amount of energy. Our other body parts are still functioning even we have already dozed off, our heart still beats to support circulation, kidneys are still doing their work to produce urine and brain activity that is still taking place, these activities are still occurring because of the foods that we eat. We eat food for survival and to carry out our everyday functions.
The surplus of the energy that does not get metabolized is stored mainly in adipocytes or fat stores to be used later on when there is an energy debt. Those nutrients that provide energy are protein, fat, alcohol, and carbohydrates which are collectively known as macronutrients.
Foods that are rich in protein include meat, fish, chicken, beans, eggs, and pulses. While the foods that are rich in fat include fats and oils, full-fat dairy, and some processed foods that use fat in the cooking preparation stages like confectionery. And a good example of carbohydrate-rich foods are rice, bread, pasta, cereal, potatoes, and some fruit and vegetables. Alcohol, when consumed can also give us energy but has no nutritional value, which is why it is often referred to as empty calories. Food also contains important micronutrients that are also known as vitamins, minerals, and trace elements but do not have calorie content but are extremely important for our health.
Among the four macronutrients, fat is the most energy-dense, the second is alcohol. One gram of digested fat in the body produces nine kilocalories. While one gram of alcohol provides seven kilocalories. Protein and carbohydrates, on the other hand, has roughly four kilocalories per gram. The numbers mentioned indicates that foods that are high in fat contain more calories than foods that are low in fat.
Energy requirements vary from one person to another. The energy needed by the body depends on age, gender, body size and composition, and the levels of physical activity. A lot of people feel tired at some point during the day because of the lack of energy that affects our daily activities making us less productive. When we do a workout, to perform a specific exercise we need higher levels of energy. An adequate amount of food and fluid should be consumed before and after exercise to help maintain blood glucose concentration during exercise to maximize performance and improve recovery time.
Even though all sorts of food give us energy, the type and quantity of food that we eat plays an essential role in determining your energy levels throughout the day because some foods contain nutrients that could help increase your energy levels and maintain your alertness and focus during the day.
Here is a list of foods that have been proven to help promote energy levels:
These are an excellent source of Vitamin E, an antioxidant that many of us fall short on because there are few good food sources of it and the form of Vitamin E found in nuts called gamma-tocopherol helps in protecting our body against cancer.
An egg on a single meal fulfills about 10 percent of your daily protein needs. Protein from an egg is certainly the most complete food protein short of human breast milk, which means the protein in eggs contains all crucial amino acids that your hard-working muscles need to promote recovery.
With a wide variety of flavors to choose from, yogurt is a healthy breakfast and snack option especially when you’re on the go. It contains magnesium that is crucial for the release of energy, it carries also a dose of calcium that is good for the bones and teeth. You may also enjoy a cup of yogurt after your workout to help replenish your glycogen sources.
Oranges are high in Vitamin C, potassium, and folate. This citrus fruit rations out energy steadily over time instead of giving you a quick sugar rush. Peel and eat an orange to benefit from the pectin and fiber in the fruit’s membrane.
Because it is composed mostly of sugars (glucose, fructose, and sucrose) and fiber, bananas are foolproof energy food. You may top it peanut or almond butter for a well-rounded snack, or you may opt to include it on your bowl of breakfast cereal for an extra boost that will keep you going until mid-day.
As the saying goes, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away”. It does not only prevent you from sickness but also gives you a powerful jolt of energy. It contains a high amount of fiber to give you a more prolonged lift compared to other fruits.
A spoonful of honey is nature’s equivalent of an energy drink. It is low in a glycemic index that has natural sweeteners that act as a time-released muscle fuel during exercise and help replenish muscles post-workout.
They are high in carbohydrates, beta-carotene (Vitamin A) and Vitamin C that helps midday fatigue.
They are not just delicious but are also packed with fiber that slowly delivers energy keeping you revved up for hours after you consume them. You can either eat them plain or you can toss then on top of your yogurt or oatmeal.
Avocados help in keeping you feel energized because of its healthy fats that enhance the way your body absorbs nutrients and can also be stored by your body to be used as energy sources. It also contains fiber that helps maintain steady energy levels and a good source of B Vitamins which your body uses to convert food into energy.
Steel Cut Oats
Steel-cut oats are made through passing the whole grain through steel blades, which slices the oats into slivers. This type of method helps the oats retain more fiber and protein, making a bowl of oatmeal made from steel-cut oats leave you feeling full and satisfied longer than a bowl of common oatmeal.
An added scoop of tuna on your salad at lunch will give you the energy you need to power through the afternoon. It is an excellent source of Vitamin B that your body uses in the conversion of food into energy. And a serving of tuna contains 25 grams of protein that helps in keeping you awake and alert.
Because it is packed with Vitamin B12, it can give your energy a boost needed through your mid-afternoon slump. The next time you are feeling yourself fading and in need of energy boost, snack on a scoop of cottage cheese with cantaloupe slices.
This grain is rich in manganese, a mineral that helps in producing energy from protein and carbs. Brown Rice will help you maintain high energy all day and you can serve it as a side dish with your favorite lean proteins and nutrient-packed veggies for a filling meal.
A good source of omega-3 fatty acids that helps in lowering cholesterol and reduces the risk of heart diseases. Salmon also contains protein, Vitamin B6, niacin, and riboflavin that helps in converting food into energy.
This a good alternative for non-fans of brown rice. The Quinoa is rich in magnesium and protein that relaxes the blood vessels and muscles, getting rid of pent-up stress while providing you with lasting energy that will keep you energized throughout the day.
This green leafy vegetable is an excellent source of iron, a key component of energy production in the body, which is probably the reason why Popeye suddenly becomes strong and energetic when he eats his spinach upon facing his opponent. When you eat a spinach salad for lunch, you will not probably feel an afternoon energy slump.
Chickpeas or Garbanzo beans are surely one of the best legumes that are good for the body. They are full of protein, fiber, and Vitamin B9 and a great mid-afternoon snack that will give you the energy boost that you need to make it till the end of the day.
The next time you want to keep your energy up and running, stick on to these foods for a productive day ahead.