Although we'd like to hope and dream that we have endless energy, we certainly do not. It's inevitable for the hustle and bustle of life to catch up with you from time to time. When you feel an energy crash coming on, you're probably inclined to reach for caffeine (which is good in moderation) or sugar to fight the feeling. But did you know that you can feel even more energized by simply changing your diet? Consuming the proper nutrient-rich foods is game-changing when it comes to boosting your energy.
A study done by the Physiology & Behavior Journal proved that consuming sugary, high-fat, or processed foods can cause extreme fatigue, lack of motivation, and decreased performance. So instead of aiding your tiredness with sugar and bad foods, nutritionist Amy Shapiro, MS, RD, CDN, who is the founder and director of Real Nutrition based in NYC, suggests certain foods she relies on to boost energy.
"Generally speaking, whole grains, high fiber fruits and veggies, nuts/seeds, eggs, and beans all provide great energy sources," explains Shapiro. "They are void of sugar and processed ingredients, so they'll help to prevent blood sugar crashes that will make you feel lethargic."
"Beans are high in protein and fiber," says Shapiro. "That is the magic recipe for high energy because when paired together your blood sugar stabilizes and your energy soars."
Beans are also good for your overall heart health. A study done by the Canadian Medical Journal revealed that eating one serving of beans daily can significantly reduce your LDL levels by 5% and your risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
"Chia seeds are known to provide tons of nutrients including iron, omega-3, fiber, and protein," says Shapiro. "They will help to manage blood sugar levels and keep you going on just about a tablespoon of them."
Shapiro suggests an easy way to incorporate chia seeds into your diet is to add them to yogurt, oatmeal, or your smoothie for sustained energy.
"Salmon is high in omega-3 fatty acids, which will help with brain clarity and cognition," explains Shapiro. "Nothing is better than a clear head to help you feel energetic."
Research done by the The American Journal of Epidemiology proved that drinking coffee can lead to a longer life. Specifically, four cups of coffee per day reduces the risk of death by 16% and three cups per day lowers the chances of cardiovascular disease by 21%.
"Coffee is loaded with antioxidants and caffeine, which is known to give you an energy burst and has been proven to improve athletic performance when consumed prior to working out," Shapiro adds.
According to Shapiro, Brazil nuts are one of the best sources of selenium, which is a nutrient we usually don't get enough of.
Studies show that just eating as little as two brazil nuts daily can greatly improve your body's selenium status and overall health.
"Eggs are one of my favorite foods because they're the perfect protein with all 10 essential amino acids and choline," explains Shapiro. "Eggs help with brain development, alertness, and energy."
A good amount of research has been done on the overall health benefits of eggs because they're packed with protein and improve your muscle strength, power, and energy.
We can go on and on about the benefits of green tea: anti-inflammatory, anti-aging, benefits the heart, reduces blood sugar, and more. "Green tea provides tons of antioxidants, as well as caffeine, at a more alertness level than coffee," says Shapiro.