Ever feel sluggish and tired and just assume you didn’t get enough sleep? OR feel slow and unproductive around lunch time? It may be more than just lack of sleep. It may be the foods that you are eating. There are foods that both make you tired and give you energy. It’s possible that you just aren’t eating enough of the food that gives you energy and too much of the foods that takes it away.
Foods that you should make sure you are getting plenty of in your diet are those that consist of protein, complex carbohydrates, high fiber, high carbs, magnesium, dopamine, norepinephrine, B-12, and water. I will be discussing a list of foods you should incorporate into your daily diet to help raise your energy levels, and a list of foods you should avoid that slow down your productivity.
TOP 5 FOODS THAT HELP RAISE YOUR ENERGY
1. Protein and complex carbohydrates- if you are feeling tired, grab a snack of whole grain crackers with low fat cheese or a peanut butter sandwich on whole wheat bread.
2. High fiber and high carbs- I know carbs are a no-no on most diets, but it might be a lack of carbs causing you to lack energy. Carbs raise serotonin levels and absorb more slowly, keeping your blood sugar and energy levels stable. Fiber helps to keep your energy steady throughout the day. A great energy breakfast is whole wheat toast or a high fiber cereal. Also, try swapping out some brown rice instead of white. Beans, whole fruits, and vegetables are good sources of fiber to help sustain your energy.
3. Protein and Magnesium- These are able to turn convert your sugars in to energy. Low magnesium can also drain your energy. Foods high in magnesium include whole grains, bran cereals, and some fish.
4. Dopamine, norepinephrine, ad B-12- Tyrosine found in lean meats can help to boost the levels of dopamine and norepinephrine that help you to feel more alert and focused. Lean meats also have B-12 that can help to ease insomnia. Some lean meats that not only have these in it but are also rich in protein are lean pork, lean beef, lean turkey, and skinless chicken.
Healthy snacks & salads
5. Hydration- water may not be a food, but it definitely aids in energy. Making sure that you are staying hydrated can help you to avoid getting tired. Even mild dehydration can slow metabolism and steal your energy. Drink plenty of water or get it from fresh fruits and vegetables such as apple wedges and celery. Oatmeal and pasta are also good sources because they soak up water during cooking.
NOW ABOUT THOSE FOODS WE SHOULD AVOID...
1. Microwave meals- these are full of salt and chemicals that just suck up your energy. Avoiding these will help your energy levels rise, especially if you are relying on them on a daily basis.
2. Turkey- I know I said that turkey can help with energy, but that is lean turkey and not a lot of it. Turkey is full of tryptophan that relaxes your body, which is why after eating a Thanksgiving turkey, that most people feel the need for a nap.
3. High sugar candy- We all get a craving for sweets every now and then, some more than others, but this is definitely something that we should avoid. High sugar candy causes your blood sugar to raise and then crash very quickly, leaving us drained of energy.
4. Fried Foods- Besides that fact that these just aren’t that great for you anyway, you should avoid them because if takes more energy to break down fatty foods, thus stealing it from us and making us lethargic.
5. Red meat- Again, because of health reasons, this should typically be avoided of consumed rarely, but it’s also an energy thief. Red meat takes a long time to digest, therefore using a lot of energy that we can’t use ourselves.
6. Breads- Another if gives us energy but also takes it away. In this instance, whole wheat carbs are good but that white, starchy, fatty carbs are not. They cause of blood sugar to rise and then quickly crash making us extremely tired. Muffins, donuts, pastries, etc. should be avoided or consumed on occasion.
7. Alcohol- A glass of red wine is supposed to be good for the heart, but alcohol in general isn’t good for your sleep habits. Drinking alcohol slows down your central nervous system and if you drink it too close to bed time, it can cause insomnia. Just remember if you partake, to drink smaller amounts and make sure that it’s a good time before your hit the sack to avoid being up all night.
Healthy & delicious dark chocholate snacks
Essentially, if it is going to cause your blood sugar to spike and then crash quickly, then you should probably eat it sparingly. I’m not saying that you can’t have these things, (who doesn’t like a glass of wine with dinner or an occasional pastry), you just have to make sure that you are eating more foods that give you energy than you are those who steal it to balance it all out. If you have been feeling lethargic lately and have been consuming a lot of the foods that steal you energy and less of those that give it to you, you might want to change your diet a bit.
Substitute a few of the foods that take energy with some of those that supply it and see how you feel. It may completely change your day. Productivity here we come!