Sometimes we all need a little pick-me-up. According to family physician Dr. Bikash Chowdhury, it's natural for our energy levels to fluctuate throughout the day. In fact, you can even feel fatigued and run down even when you're getting enough sleep.
Thankfully your diet delivers plenty of opportunities to tweak your energy levels back up when you need an extra lift. What follows are eight of Dr. Bikash Chowdhury's favorite energy-boosting foods that won't break your budget.
1. Citrus Fruits
For a healthy energy boost with breakfast, the old favorite orange juice, or even better, a whole orange is a great choice. Citrus fruits, particularly oranges and lemons, contain high levels of vitamin C, potassium and folate, all powerful antioxidants which can help battle oxidative stress, a common cause of fatigue.
Vitamin C also aids in the absorption of iron, which is known to increase mental alertness. Eating citrus along with iron sources, such as spinach, is an excellent food synergy for increased energy.
Along with your breakfast citrus, eggs are an excellent natural energy source. They contain quite a bit of high-quality protein, which the body converts to energy evenly. The also contain leucine. This amino acid helps cells mitigate blood sugar to produce more energy. It also aides in converting a higher percentage of fat stores to energy.
Nuts are a great energy-promoting snack. They contain an ideal mix of protein, carbohydrates, healthy fats, and fiber, which helps the body burn energy more consistently throughout the day, avoiding spikes and troughs. They're also high in a host of pro-energy vitamins and minerals such as B vitamins, vitamin E, iron, and manganese.
As a bonus, almonds, cashews, and hazelnuts are all high in magnesium, a nutrient that's involved in converting sugars to energy.
Bananas are excellent, energy-friendly food. They contain potassium, which has beneficial antioxidant properties. This potassium is complemented by carbohydrates and vitamin B6 for a potent increase in energy and mental agility.
5. Brown Rice
Not only is brown rice great for maintaining daily energy levels, but it can also be eaten as a base with a wide range of foods, allowing you a great many opportunities to eat this healthy powerhouse.
It contains high levels of manganese and complex carbohydrates. Manganese helps your body create consistent energy from carbs, so the combination of the two in one food makes brown rice a potent energy source. It also contains fiber, giving brown rice a low glycemic index. For all these reasons brown rice a favorite among healthy energy food.
Spinach is loaded with nutritional value and should be a part of everyone's diet. For those seeking energy-positive foods, spinach contains plentiful iron, one of the basic elemental building blocks of energy metabolism. It also contains quite a bit of the amino acid tyrosine, which plays a role in brain function and helps promote alertness and focus.
7. Fatty Fish
Inflammation is one of the many causes of fatigue. Fatty fish varieties contain omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, both of which help to reduce inflammation, mitigating this potent energy drag.
Fatty fish are also replete with vitamin B12 and folic acid, the combination of which helps the body create more red blood cells. This allows oxygen and iron to reach the body's cells more effectively, further increasing energy levels and mental acuity. Beans, also an excellent energy food, contain quite a bit of folic acid. Combining these with fatty fish is a great way to boost the benefits of each.
8. Dark Chocolate
As a healthy, end-of-the-day dessert, or a mid-day snack, embrace dark chocolate. Dark chocolate contains more cocoa than milk chocolate, which means it's significantly better for you. Not only does it contain a small amount of caffeine it's also stocked with theobromine, another natural stimulant that promotes energy and awareness.
Dark chocolate is packed with antioxidants that fight oxidative stress as well as help increase blood flow to encourage better muscle and brain performance. Dark chocolate is one of the best sweet treat options, both nutritionally and for enhanced energy.
A Healthy Diet Makes a Healthy You
To maintain optimum energy levels throughout the day, eating a proper diet that includes lean protein, fiber, and complex carbohydrates, as well as high-energy foods is a great start. You'll also want to make sure you get enough sleep, don't skip meals, and keep yourself hydrated. With the right strategy, you can feel fully energized throughout your day.
About Dr. Bikash Chowdhury:
Dr. Bikash Chowdhury is a family physician and a family man, currently working in a medical center in Ontario, Canada as well as Tillsonburg District Memorial Hospital near London, Ontario, Canada. With hard work and devotion, he graduated from Chittagong Medical College in Bangladesh and moved to Canada in 2003 with his family. After completing his two-year Residency at the University of Western Ontario, he became licensed to practice family medicine in Canada.