There are several factors associated with fatigue and sluggishness; and poor nutrition is definitely one of them. By taking notice of what you eat each day and choosing the best, the most natural wholesome foods, you will improve energy levels and general well being.
Not all foods will boost your energy levels to the same degree, but choosing the right foods at the right time throughout the day is always going to impact your physical and mental performance in a positive way.
Foods can increase our energy in various ways: by aiding the metabolism to burn more, by providing necessary calories, by delivering stimulants, and by regulating the concentration of blood sugar in the body.
The most important body functions depend on fluid balance. Dehydration causes blood volumes to drop and key metabolic processes to slow down. A good idea is to never wait until we are obviously thirsty. Drink plenty of water throughout the day to avoid becoming dehydrated. Remember that dehydration and fatigue go hand-in-hand.
Taking into consideration that the human brain is made up of 85% water, a mere 2-3% drop in our body's water supply will produce signs of dehydration: fuzziness, less effective short-term memory, trouble with concentration and detailed work, and even headaches.
Fiber is an energy stabilizer. Other potential advantages of consuming fiber are the production of health-promoting compounds during the fermentation of soluble fiber, and insoluble fiber's ability (via its passive water-attracting properties) to increase bulk, soften stool and shorten transit time through the intestinal tract.
High fiber foods will give you strength and reduce the risk of high blood sugar, obesity and heart disease. Fiber slows digestion, providing a regular supply of energy throughout the day.
Increase your fiber intake by eating vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds whole fruits and some high-fiber-whole-grain products.
When it comes to nuts, we specially recomend almonds and hazelnuts which are not only rich in protein and fiber, but contain plenty of magnesium. In the process of converting sugar into energy, the body uses this mineral to activate many enzymatic reactions.
Vital for boosting energy and mood. A smart carbohydrate is one that will supply you with constant energy and an ample supply of nutrients.
For optimal energy balance we must replenish our body regularly with small amounts of smart carbs. For best effect, they must be optimally combined with protein and healthy fats (saturated and monounsaturated, trying to keep the polyunsaturated fatty acids at bay, except omega-3 fatty acids). In order to do this, it is very important that you try to avoid simple liquid carbohydrate drinks like soda and juice. Keep far away from processed and refined carbs like cakes, potato chips, cookies, fries, candy, white fiber-poor bread, pasta and rice.
Smart carbs are the body’s preferred source of fuel. They raise serotonin levels and keep blood sugar and energy stable. The best sources of smart carbs are: Vegetables, fruits, legumes (beans, lentils, peas), whole grains like brown rice, and whole-wheat pasta.
Coffee is an stimulant and one of the world’s most popular pick-me-ups. Caffeine steps up the body’s metabolism, temporarily improving mental focus and energy. Frequent coffee drinking will keep you alert and focused, and boost your mood. Small amounts distributed evenly work better than a single large dose.
Harvard researchers have discovered that coffee is not only a great and mostly harmless stimulant, but that it can give great health benefits as well. Studies show that coffee is loaded with antioxidants, enhances endurance and lowers the risk of color cancer, Parkinson's disease, diabetes, heart disease, cavities and headaches.
Tea is another alternative source of caffeine, and black tea in particular helps cut levels of the stress hormone cortisol circulating in the blood. In this way, drinking tea has a double energizing effect. Less stress, more energy.
The amino acid L-theanine, found almost exclusively in the tea plant, actively alters the attention networks of the brain. It has been proposed that theanine is absorbed by the small intestine and crosses the blood-brain barrier, where it affects the brain's neurotransmitters and increases alpha brain-wave activity. The result is a calmer, yet more alert, state of mind.
Dark Chocolate and Cocoa
Caffeine at work again, along with another stimulant called theobromine. Dark chocolate boosts both energy and mood. And it contains many of the health benefits of dark vegetables. This comes in the form of antioxidants called flavonoids which help relax blood pressure, improve blood vessels' ability to dilate, decrease the body's inflammatory immune responses and have a general hormone balancing effect.
We can enjoy limited amounts of dark chocolate without guilt, as long as we don't overdo it: Remember that chocolate normaly contains high amounts of simple carbs.
Other articles in this series:
- Breakfast is The King
- Mixing macronutrients
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