As the old saying goes – You are what you eat. Obviously, we know that this isn’t entirely true. You can munch on a jelly donut without actually transforming into this tasty dessert disguised as breakfast. It is true, however, that the foods on which you choose to nosh impact lots of things – including your energy levels.
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Some foods are packed with calories, making it more likely that, by consuming them, you’ll pack on the pounds. Other foods are even more nefarious, not only containing oodles of calories and fat, but also zapping all of your energy so, at day’s end, you haven’t the energy to walk across the room and get the remote, let alone work out. If you suspect that your diet is sabotaging your workout intentions, consider swapping out some of your diet to make room for these energy-boosting foods.
1. Leafy Greens
As a general rule, the more vibrant the color, the more nutritious the food. It should come as no surprise, given this, that leafy greens are an exceptionally healthy element to include in your diet. Leafy greens are rich in vitamins A and C. They are also great sources of fiber and calcium, all of which help keep your energy tanks filled.
If you’re a salad lover, swap out your bland and boring iceberg for some rugged romaine or succulent spinach. If you struggle to consume foods that are primarily comprised of leafy greens, sneak them into your diet by blending them into smoothies or adding them to sandwiches.
If you’re seeking the perfect, energy-rich breakfast, look no further than classic oatmeal. As high in fiber as it is warm and delicious, oatmeal is a stick-to-your bones breakfast. Because the fiber in oatmeal takes a long time for your body to digest, you’ll reap the energy benefit of oatmeal long after you consume it.
Remember that you don’t have to only eat oatmeal in its natural form to experience these benefits. Cookies containing oatmeal can also offer long-lasting fullness – and won’t even lead to much weight gain if you keep it light on the sugar.
3. Peanut Butter
Say what? Peanut butter is good for you? Well, not always. Peanut butter is a calorie-dense food, so slather it on with caution. It does, however, provide long-lasting energy, making it a great addition to your energy-boosting diet.
Enjoy some peanut butter with an apple or added to some toast in the morning. If you want to relive your youth, whip up some classic ants on a log – just like mom use to make.
Good for more than just preventing those pesky Charlie-horses that wake you in the night, bananas offer loads of energy-boosting vitamins and nutrients. These naturally pre-packaged fruits offer a rich assortment of B vitamins as well as potassium and fiber. All of these components work together to make bananas a muscle-helpful food.
Enjoy a banana with your breakfast to get you going strong out of the gate. If you want an energy-filled sandwich, add some bananas to your peanut butter bread to reap the benefits of both foods simultaneously.
When the need to snack hits, skip the chip dip – which will zap your energy – and opt instead for energy-boosting hummus. The components that go into this dip, primarily tahini and beans, make it naturally rich in energy. Like so many other energy-helpful foods, the fiber in the beans leads to slow digestion which in turn allows for sustained energy.
While enjoying humus with pitas is a great option, the best bet is to skip the carbs and dip veggies. Not only will these crunchy veggies keep you feeling light and capable, but they’ll help you cross off some other items from the “I should be eating more of this” list.
6. Greek Yogurt
If you’re looking for a sweet and creamy treat that will leave you feeling energized, Greek yogurt should be your go-to. Lovers of this great-any-time food swear by the heavy dose of protein it offers.
Greek yogurt makes a great breakfast addition, but you shouldn’t relegate this food to morning consumption. Add a cup to your lunch or trade your typical dessert for Greek yogurt instead. Enjoy Greek yogurt alone, or add some favorite things to it to make it more to your liking. The addition of berries and granola, for example, can make your typical yogurt a bit more exciting.
If eating yogurt just isn’t your style, you can still experience the rewards of adding this food to your diet by incorporating it into your cooking. Unsweetened Greek yogurt has the same consistency and pungency as sour cream, making it an ideal – and healthier – option. Add it to your potatoes in place of typical sour cream or, for a more convincing disguise, mix it into your sour-cream-containing recipes.
Salmon has long been touted as the healthiest of protein options. This pink and flaky fish is rich in omega-3 fatty acids and protein. While omega-3s will keep your mind sharp, the protein it contains will keep you energetic long after you finish your meal.
Salmon is an easy choice for dinner, but you can enjoy it at other times throughout the day as well. Enjoy some cold salmon with your eggs or fold it into an omelet for a breakfast treat. For lunch, add some cold salmon, left over from the previous night’s dinner, perhaps, to your salad, which will obviously contain loads of dark leafy greens.
8. Air-popped Popcorn
If you’re seeking a crunchy snack, step away from the chips. Instead of these greasy and oh-so-bad-for-you finger foods, try air-popped popcorn instead. Popcorn is rich in both fiber and whole grains. This makes this snack as energy-boosting as it is enjoyable to munch during a movie.
Eat your air-popped popcorn plain or with salt. If you’re seeking ways to step it up a notch, consider mixing it with some dried fruit and dark chocolate pieces to make an energy-rich trail mix.
9. Jazzed Up Water
If you want to dose yourself with feel-good components, but can’t possibly incorporate yet another healthy food into your diet, get stealthy about it and add some energy boosters to your water. You’re already drinking eight glasses a day anyway, right?
Add lemon juice to your water to help with allergies – and make you feel fuller faster. If you want to improve your digestion, add some cayenne pepper or ginger. Remember that just a dash will do. For a bold energy boost, mix in a spoonful of honey.
Enjoy this mixture warm, or sip it cold throughout the day. Because variety is the spice of life, it may be advantageous to continually mix up your water additions. This way, you don’t get too tired of any particular mixture.