We are all well aware of the phrase “you are what you eat.” Too often we apply it to weight gain, rather than energy loss, but the catchphrase applies in both circumstances.
Just as there are certain foods that are guaranteed to affect our waistlines, there are as many which can wreak havoc on our energy levels. And some of these foods may be unexpected.
So, which foods you should cut back on if you are looking to stay energetic and healthy?
Everyone knows that carbohydrates, especially sugars, are considered energy sources. We all know that they can make us fat, but, despite the fact that carbs are converted to glucose, and therefore energy, in our bodies, they can also have the opposite effect.
Consuming excess carbs will produce a quick energy boost by increasing our blood sugar levels, and a rise in insulin levels. But this is quickly followed by fatigue and weakness, as the insulin levels quickly plummet.
Carbohydrates are most beneficial when consumed in a natural state because they contain quite a bit of accompanying fiber. Processed grains are much less healthy, and much more energy deflating. Pasta, most breakfast cereals, cookies, cakes, muffins, and the like fall into this category.
Red meat also gets a bad rep because of its high-fat content. This can be bad for your energy levels as well as your cholesterol.
The body requires so much energy simply to digest red meat such as steaks, burgers, pork chops, and lamb, that it has a debilitating effect on energy levels, leaving you feeling sluggish and slow.
Fried foods and fast foods are also high in fat and may slow down the digestive process, making our bodies expend too much energy on the digestive process, and leaving little energy for us to use to get through our day.
Salmon, often touted as a healthy alternative to red meat, can also affect energy levels because it contains a high amount of vitamin B6, which the body converts to melatonin, a sleep-inducing hormone. So it may not be a good idea to have salmon for lunch if you are expecting to have a busy day.
Bananas contain a lot of magnesium, a chemical that can induce sleepiness, so don’t expect them to serve as a pick-me-up snack!
As counterintuitive as it may seem, those energy drinks may be having the exact opposite effect on your energy levels!
This type of drinks contains caffeine, known to keep us alert and awake. But if you consume too much caffeine, your body will build up a tolerance to it, requiring you to consume more and more to have the desired effect.
This could then lead to interference with your sleep patterns, which will have an adverse effect on your energy levels. So keep consumption of caffeine to a minimum, say no more than the equivalent of four cups of coffee per day.
Most of us are aware that alcohol can help us to relax. Some may choose to have a couple of drinks at night, thinking it will help them go to sleep and get the rest we all need.
But alcohol can actually affect our sleep patterns, reducing the quality and duration of our nightly sleep and affecting our energy levels in an undesirable way. So, you may want to cut down on your use of alcohol, especially at bedtime.
Foods That Make You More Energetic
So now for a few recommendations for energy-boosting foods.
Carbs and sugars will boost energy. The trick is to find foods that contain a significant amount of fiber along with the carbs and sugars. This allows the latter two substances to be processed more efficiently and evenly, avoiding the energy rush and the following crash.
Apples are excellent, as is oatmeal, and even popcorn. Just forgo the oil and use an air popper.
Oxidative stress can be a cause of sluggishness and fatigue, so foods rich in antioxidants, such as beets, nuts, oranges, and green leafy vegetables can boost energy levels.
Leafy green vegetables can also provide iron, a deficiency of which can be debilitating.
Other healthy, energy-boosting food choices are eggs, avocados, brown rice, and sweet potatoes.
Eating regular meals and snacks is more beneficial to your energy levels than consuming one or two large meals a day, so space out your eating. Not to mention the fact that water can always give you a refreshing boost when needed.