What we eat has such a big impact on our energy levels, so I thought we’d zoom in on “energy powerhouses” today.
Pulling energy from foods is mainly about carbohydrates, which get broken down into glucose—the muscles’ main energy source. Not enough carbs and you are run down; too many carbs and the extra turns into fat. The wrong kind of carbohydrates certainly turns into fat!
What not to do for energy: reach for a quick, sugary, refined carbohydrates! They will give you a quick energy burst, but will leave you feeling horrible and with a few (or a lot of) extra pounds! The sugary spikes that come from large meals or high glycemic foods (all refined flours and sugars) lead you on a glucose roller coaster which is …just plain horrible! By keeping the glucose levels on an even keel, your energy levels don’t drop drastically and you find yourself more able to deal with the demands of everyday life. And since your blood sugar drops within four hours of eating, you have to remember to eat the NEWAY™ way: frequent, smaller eating events made up of a combination of high-fiber complex carbs and low fat protein. This combination will boost your mental and physical energy and give you regular energy throughout the day. So if you have gotten away from this simple way of thinking and eating, get back to it, my friend! Your energy levels depend on it.
Here you go–my favorite energy foods:
1. The snacks in the following list have a combination of complex carbohydrates and protein and will help you through the mid-afternoon slump:
Whole wheat pizza
Oatmeal (the old-fashion kind, of course)
Fruit smoothie with low-fat yogurt
Peanut or Almond butter on an apple
Dried fruit and almonds
Yams with low-fat sour cream
Cut up carrots and hummus
Gazpacho and whole wheat bread
Low-fat cottage cheese and fruit
Hard-boiled egg and fruit or raw veggies
2. Breakfast: Breakfast is absolutely the #1 “eating for energy” strategy. It gets your metabolism off to a strong start and makes nighttime snacking a thing of the past. Coffee is not breakfast. Focus on whole grains and vegetables which aid the metabolic production of energy. Add a lean protein and you are all set.
3. Ezechiel Bread: sprouted grain bread, which means that it contains many types of grains (even beans and lentils!) and no flour at all. Check out the ingredients list: Organic Sprouted Whole Wheat, Filtered Water, Organic Malted Barley, Organic Sprouted Whole Millet, Organic Sprouted Whole Barley, Organic Sprouted Whole Lentils, Organic Sprouted Whole Soybeans, Organic Sprouted Whole Spelt, Fresh Yeast, Sea Salt. It’s full of healthy, whole (not refined) ingredients that are naturally rich in nutrients like protein and fiber. This mix of grains and legumes also means that each slice is a complete protein (containing all 9 essential amino acids), which is great for anyone, especially vegetarians. Here are some nutrition facts for just one slice: 80 calories, 75 mg sodium, 3 grams fiber, 4 grams protein. Despite ingredients like soybeans and lentils, it doesn’t taste “beany” at all. Its taste and texture is dense, hearty, and a little bit nutty. I keep mine in the refrigerator, and when you pull it right out, it can be kind of dry. So I prefer to toast this bread for better flavor and texture, or to microwave it for a few seconds, which softens it up and really makes it moist.
4. Flaxseed, the little seed with a big punch: all of these nutrients are contained in flaxseeds: lignans, phyotestrogen that protects against certain cancers, omega-3 fatty acids, fiber and complete protein. One tablespoon of flaxseeds contains 35 calories, 1.6 g protein, 2.8 g carbs, 2.8 g good fats, 2.5 g fiber. Flaxseeds decrease total cholesterol, bad cholesterol. Triglycerides and blood pressure; they regulate bowl function, improve blood glucose control and reduce inflammation. You can eat flaxseeds whole, ground or as an oil. Or have my yummy skinny muffin.