On Your Health

Check back to the INTEGRIS On Your Health blog for the latest health and wellness information for all Oklahomans, published three times a week.

Eat Your Way to More Energy

That sluggish feeling that creeps up on us as the day goes on – it’s all too familiar. As busy adults with demands from jobs and families, running out of energy is simply not an option. So we reach for quick fixes, only to be greeted by the strong urge to just lie down and take a nap shortly after. What gives? Aside from sleep, your nutrition could be affecting your energy levels more than you might think.

Why Quick Fixes Backfire

Sugar, soda, energy drinks – it’s no secret that these will do the trick… in the short term. Unfortunately, while soda and sweets can give a quick boost, they’re quick fixes that perpetuate the cycle of blood sugar highs and blood sugar crashes. Moderate caffeine intake is fine by itself, but because it’s typically in drinks that also contain a lot of sugar, the crashes still happen. The key to sustained energy is to keep blood sugar levels steady and to acquire energy from natural sources that work with and for our bodies.

Vitamins and Minerals as Energy Sources

So what should we be eating more of to increase our energy levels? The best foods for energy typically contain one or more of the following:

  • Vitamin B12 – helps support cellular energy production
  • Potassium – a natural electrolyte
  • Magnesium – required for the body to produce energy
  • Calcium – essential for proper nerve function
cherries as energy source

Complex Carbohydrates

Studies show that complex carbohydrates (fibers and starches) provide the body with longer-lasting energy compared to their simple counterparts (sugars). Complex carbs have lower glycemic indexes and take the body longer to break down. Fiber, a component of complex carbohydrates, helps to regulate and “pace” our bodies’ use of the energy from our food so that we don’t get a burst of energy followed by a crash, but rather a steady energy level that allows us to function well throughout the day.

Try These Naturally Energy-Boosting Foods:

  • Whole grain bread and oats - high in fiber
  • Sweet potatoes - high in potassium and fiber
  • Lemon – helps balance the body’s pH levels – try infusing it in your water
  • Salmon and tuna - good sources of B12 and healthy fats
  • Chia seeds - antioxidants, high fiber, high protein
  • Chickpeas, lentils and black beans - high in protein, fiber, potassium and magnesium
  • Berries and bananas - provide antioxidants, fiber and potassium
  • Greek yogurt – high in protein, calcium, magnesium and potassium
  • Kale and spinach – high in potassium and calcium

Don’t Forget Water

Your body can’t distribute and absorb those natural energy sources without water. Every cell, tissue, and organ in your body uses water to be able to perform basic functions. Water helps remove toxins, keeps our metabolism humming, and aids in keeping energy levels up. So next time you need an energy boost and are tempted to reach for that sugary soda, opt for a cool glass of water instead. Your body and your energy level will thank you.

For more information on a way that food can boost your health, check out the I On Your Health post Foods That Help Combat Depression.

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