You eat the kinds of food that your mom used to prepare. Or your diet may be just the same as everyone else around you.
But you can’t help envying the kind of lifestyle that other people lead. They still have the energy to have fun with their loved ones when they come home. They can even take evening walks under the moonlight and go to the movies or gastropubs on Friday nights.
Why do they have that kind of energy, while you are always tired and beaten at the end of the day?
Chances are it’s your diet. Many people constantly feel fatigue because they are feeding their bodies with the wrong foods. Not all kinds of food are good for us, like pastries and sodas, even though they contain energy in the form of carbohydrates. Some carbs provide our blood with too much fuel too soon, leading to a sudden crash — making you hungry and enervated. You need the right kind of carbs, plus protein and healthy fats.
There are many types of diet that are being promoted online, some of which advise people to avoid carbs completely, focus on protein intake alone, or increase their intake of fat up to 60%.
But nutritionists all over the world still uphold the importance of a balanced diet consisting of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy proteins, along with healthy oils and water.
Why a balanced diet? Why shouldn’t you avoid carbs?
According to Abbott Nutrition News, “Carbohydrates, also known as carbs, are vital at every stage of life. They’re the body’s primary source of energy and the brain’s preferred energy source. Carbs are broken down by the body into glucose – a type of sugar. Glucose is used as fuel by your body’s cells, tissues, and organs. When your body doesn’t get adequate carbohydrates, it looks for another energy source, breaking down the protein in your muscles and body fat to use as energy. Glucose is significant for the brain, which can’t easily use other fuel sources like fat or protein for energy.”
Moreover, carbs like fiber feed your microbiome, with most of these organisms living in your gastrointestinal tract. A healthy microbiome promotes immune and digestive health. Further, a high-fiber diet prevents the growth of pathogenic bacteria that causes many diseases, such as diabetes, obesity, and cancer.
Meanwhile, here’s the importance of protein, according to the European Union Food Information Council: “Our bodies are made up of thousands of different proteins, each with a specific function. They make up the structural components of our cells and tissues, as well as many enzymes, hormones, and the active proteins secreted from immune cells. These body proteins are continually being repaired and replaced throughout our lives. This process (known as ‘protein synthesis’) requires a continuous supply of amino acids. Although some amino acids can be recycled from the breakdown of old body proteins, this process is imperfect. This means we must eat dietary protein to keep up with our body’s amino acid demand.”
And what are healthier fats? The American Heart Association stated the following facts in its website: “The ‘bad fats,’ saturated and trans fats, tend to be more solid at room temperature (like butter). Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats tend to be more liquid (like canola oil). Fats can also have different effects on the cholesterol levels in your body. A diet high saturated fats and trans fats raise bad cholesterol (LDL) levels in your blood. Eating an overall healthy dietary pattern that is higher in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats can lower bad cholesterol levels.”
Now, if you want to boost your energy, this knowledge about carbs, proteins, and healthy fats will help you attain your goal. The following foods will reinvigorate you due to their energy-boosting nutrients — carbs to fuel your body, proteins for cell growth and repair, and fats as another energy source that’s especially beneficial during a long period of low-intensity exercise.
Here’s a list of energy-boosting foods according to WebMD:
- Oatmeal. Rich in fiber and other nutrients.
- Eggs. Known as the “complete source” of protein, they contain all nine of the essential amino acids we need, along with the mineral iodine.
- Chicken. Remove the skin and you have a good source of lean protein. It also contains less saturated fat compared to other meats, such as lamb, beef, and pork.
- Beef liver. One of the best sources of Vitamin B12, which helps in the maintenance/restoration of a healthy nervous system and in nerve regeneration after an injury.
- Oysters. They offer a quick replenishment of vitamins and nutrients that our bodies lose, like vitamin B12, vitamin D, iron, copper, and zinc.
- Beans. Another excellent source of fiber, protein, folate, and magnesium. They help lower the risk of heart disease, cancer (breast, colorectal, kidney, stomach, and prostate), and diabetes.
- Sardines. Well-known marine source of omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA), along with many kinds of vitamins and minerals. The nutrients of this fish species promote heart, bone, and mental health. Also, regular consumption of sardines lowers the risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
- Walnuts. These nuts contain a lot of polyunsaturated fatty acids, along with alpha-linolenic and linoleic acids. Both alpha-linolenic and linoleic acids help in keeping our hearts, blood, and nerves healthy.
- Coffee. As everyone knows, this beverage contains caffeine that can give you a quick boost of energy. But you should avoid overconsumption, since it has its bad effects as well.
- Tea. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, “Black, green and oolong tea all contain caffeine. Black tea has more caffeine than green tea. However, the caffeine content also relates to the brewing process. The longer the tea steeps, the greater the caffeine content. Caffeinated teas typically have less caffeine than coffee.” Tea can be invigorating, but it’s also recommended not to overdo it since an overload of caffeine can cause heartburn, dizziness, nausea, nervousness, sleep disturbance, and gastrointestinal problems. Many herbal teas don’t contain caffeine.
- Berries. They are considered “superfoods,” packed with antioxidants and other nutrients, including prebiotics that promote gut health. They also help to boost memory and learning functions while reducing the risk of heart attack and type 2 diabetes.
- Dark chocolate. According to Devon Peart, a registered dietitian with the Cleveland Clinic, the percentage of cocoa solids can affect the magnitude of dark chocolate’s benefits. The higher percentage of cocoa solids, the more flavonoids and the lower sugar. Flavanols help to lower blood pressure and improve blood circulation, which is beneficial for the whole body. Dark chocolate is also rich in many antioxidants that help us sleep well, enhance our mood, and protect our skin from UV rays, among other things.
- Water. “Up to 60% of the human adult body is water. According to Mitchell and others (1945), the brain and heart are composed of 73% water, and the lungs are about 83% water. The skin contains 64% water, muscles and kidneys are 79%, and even the bones are watery: 31%.” These facts come from the website of the United States Geological Survey. Hence, we clearly see just how essential water is to life. Aim to be well-hydrated at all times to maintain your vigor, but avoid getting malhydrated.
- Foods for exercise. Now, if your need an extra boost of energy for exercise, get them from foods that are rich in the right type of carbs, proteins, and healthy fats. Enjoy whole grains, fruits like nuts and avocados, veggies, and fish or lean meat.