After a hectic day, you finally get a moment to put your feet up. You’re exhausted, and you’re probably wondering ‘How can I ever start exercising?’
Finding the time is one thing, having the energy is another. But what if I told you there’s an easy way to boost your energy levels? A way to combat sugar crashes and three-thirtyitis.
Often, we blame our exhaustion on our stressful work and heavy schedules, all the while missing one major factor: nutrition. We tend to take the food we eat for granted – but your diet can dictate a day of high energy and focus, or a day of headaches, carb-crashes and fatigue.
Superfoods to the Rescue
You might be in need of food that boosts energy. Your energy can be low due to a lack of nutrients in your cells. Superfoods are nutrient rich foods that power those cells. By incorporating them into your regular diet, your cells can start working at peak performance.
With boosted energy levels, you can:
- Wake up more easily
- Maintain focus throughout the day (no more three-thirtyitis at work)!
- Remembers things more clearly
- Perform physical activities more easily
- Sleep better
Note: energy levels can still be affected by external influences such as stress, cigarettes, alcohol, drugs.
What Makes a Superfood?
They usually contain antioxidants, healthy fats and plenty of fiber. The nutrients keep your organs functioning. The essential minerals and vitamins fights disease and produce red blood cells which circulates your oxygen. As you know, oxygen and blood circulation play a key role in exercise.
Live longer, be more active and super-protected!
Before we go further, let’s address some common questions:
What are Antioxidants?
This word is commonly used in promotions, though often it’s not clear on what it means. Put simply, it’s a chemical substance that slows down/prevents the damage to cells caused by free radicals (from foreign toxins and chemicals). Healthy foods are bursting with antioxidants.
What is Inflammation?
This refers to the body’s defences; how the immune system identifies damaged cells and attempts to heal itself. However, if this happens too regularly it can cause many issues. Chronic inflammation is linked to all sorts of diseases, stress, arthritis, diabetes, even cancer.
So, the key is to maintain a healthy balanced diet. This keeps your cells in better condition, therefore improving your energy levels and overall health.
Foods that Boost Energy
Here are some of the superfoods you should add to your diet.
This is a great way to incorporate healthy fats into your diet. Fat used to be something we avoided, but a lot has been discovered about its benefits. Healthy fats are good because they can be used for energy and lower bad cholesterol, among many other things.
Avocados are nice and creamy, having a similar texture to dairy foods. They’re high in fiber and vitamin B, which your body uses to transform food into energy. They have more potassium than bananas and contain important phytochemicals that support the heart and healthy aging.
Ways to have it: Guacamole dip, with eggs, mixed with cream cheese, spread on toast, in smoothies, salads, sandwiches and wraps, soups, or mixed with mashed potato.
Blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, grapes and more.
These are great on their own, or a delicious way to spruce up your snacks. Blueberries are considered one of the highest in antioxidants. They lower bad cholesterol (LDL) and blood pressure and improve insulin sensitivity (a common cause of Type 2 Diabetes). Made mostly of water, they’re low in carbs and good for brain function.
Raspberries are another brain favourite, helping to improve memory and fight against ageing. They help digestion and the release of toxins. And they lower the risk of heart disease, due to the high levels of Polyphenol.
Like having clear skin? Strawberries are packed full of Vitamin C, which contributes to collagen. This helps with the elasticity of your skin. Healthier skin breathes better. Like their blue brother, the nutrients in strawberries help regulate blood pressure and inflammation. It’s also good for pre-natal health as it has Folate.
How to have them: on their own, in smoothies, sprinkled on cereal or oats, on top of pancakes, with yoghurt or ice cream, in fruit salads (even green salads), processed as jams and jellies.
3. Dark Chocolate
Yes, chocolate makes the list! Of course, it needs to be consumed in moderation, but dark chocolate is considered to have many benefits. The high content of cocoa can alter bad cholesterol (LDL), improving heart function and reducing the risk of stroke.
The cocoa contains antioxidant flavanols, which can lower blood pressure and stimulate the brain. Unlike other sugary chocolate, your skin is more protected as the flavanols improve blood flow and hydration. It also boosts the production of endorphins, having a positive effect on moods and stress levels. Who said healthy had to be boring?
Ways to have it: on its own, with yoghurt, mixed with oats or nuts.
>>Check out Tea Chocolate and Charms for great tips on Eating Chocolate on a Diet and more info<<
4. Nuts and Seeds
Almonds, Walnuts, Pistachios, Cashews, Pecans, Macadamias, Hazelnuts, Chia seeds, Flax seeds, Sunflower seeds, Pumpkin seeds and more.
Nuts and seeds are a great source of protein, fat, and fiber. Protein plays a big role in your overall feeling. It’s especially important if you’re exercising regularly. This is because your body uses protein to repair torn muscle fibres from your workouts (rebuilding even stronger ones). A quick and easy source is nuts. Most are good for weight control (in moderation), maintaining blood sugar, reducing inflammation and promoting gut health.
Almonds have a higher level of vitamin E, which can reduce risk of diseases such as Alzheimer’s, heart disease, even cancer. Walnuts are one of the most important sources of polyphenols and is said to improve brain health (they’re even shaped like a brain to help you remember)!
If you’re not a fan of fish, you can get your Omega-3 from Walnuts, Chia or Pumpkin seeds. Why’s this important? Because it’s an essential nutrient to protect your heart. Chia seeds are loaded with antioxidants, gluten free and have barely any calories. They’re so tiny, you can mix them into to your meals and not even notice! Pumpkin seeds are great for magnesium and calcium and improve both heart and bone health.
Ways to have them: on their own, in a stir-fry, soups and casseroles, sprinkled on cereal and oats, mixed with rice, in smoothies or a salad.
This is at the top of the superfood list. It’s a popular spice, used widely through Asia and the Middle East for yellow rice and curries. Tumeric is highly active in removing free radicals. It combats most health issues, even helping with arthritis pain and ageing (which helps your mobility in exercise).
It containsCurcumin, often used for medicinal purposes with its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory components. This has been linked to positive effects on depression and anxiety too. It’s also been considered for more studies in cancer prevention. It’s a natural blood thinner, boosts the liver and digestion system. Tumeric has plenty of ways to help you stay strong on your fitness journey.
Ways to have it: in a stir-fry, casseroles, soups, curries and rice, even sprinkle it on your chicken or steak.
6. Dark Leafy Greens
Broccoli, Spinach, Kale, Collard Greens, Bok Choy, Arugula and more.
They mightn’t look as appetizing, but they are absolutely loaded with nutrients.
Broccoli is another highly regarded superfood. It improves heart, bone and digestive health, reduces cholesterol, allergies and prevents cancer. It’s a natural blood thinner and helps the thyroid (which can affect weight control). It’s jam-packed with anti-aging components, improving eye health and skin care.
When it comes to Spinach, don’t think of the green sludge Popeye used to eat! Baby spinach is great in salads and an excellent source of iron. This is important, because iron assists with the circulation of oxygen. Spinach prevents blood clotting and disease, high blood pressure and kidney stones. And it’s another great booster for the eyes and skin.
If you want a healthy gut, you can’t go passed Kale. It’s an excellent aide to the liver, containing nutrients that promote detox activity. It reduces inflammation and is considered an anti-cancer agent. Being so low in calories, it’s a must for your diet. The taste is bitter, but you can easily disguise this.
Ways to have them: in a stir-fry, casseroles, soups, omlettes, scrambled eggs, salads, sandwiches and wraps.
This does far more than flavor your meals. For centuries it’s been used to treat all sorts of ailments including bronchitis, high blood pressure and liver disorders. It regulates blood sugars and the immune system overall (often considered a good cure for colds). This prevents insulin resistance and keeps your metabolism in working order. Having a good metabolism affects weight loss by burning body fat for energy.
The main ingredient is allicin which contains sulphur. This helps the body fight viruses, and garlic is considered a great cure for colds. It can also be used for all sorts of skin conditions, including rashes, cold sores and acne. Garlic helps you feel great (and let’s not forget, it keeps those vampires and creepy guys away).
Ways to have it: crush, slice or mince before cooking. You can add it to all your cooking, according to taste.
Chickpeas, Kidney beans, Split peas, Canalini beans, Baked beans, Soybeans, Peanuts, Lentils and more.
This is another great source of protein (which is needed for an active lifestyle). They contain plenty of fiber to keep you feeling full, which helps your metabolism, and in turn helps with weight control. Not to mention, it keeps you regular.
Legumes are rich in vitamin B, iron, calcium, zinc, magnesium and more. The zinc helps your nervous system, boosting your immunity and energy levels. Lentils are also good for blood sugars and heart health. They’re low in calories with a ton of nutrition, making them a super snack. Curb your chip craving with crunchy oven-roasted chickpeas!
Ways to have it: boiled or roasted, have it on toast, add it to a stir-fry, soups, casseroles, salads, lasagna, tacos, add to a smoothie or make Hummus dip.
- Eating dark coloured vegetables can be beneficial as they’re made up of phytochemicals that protect them from disease.
- Foods rich in folate (like spinach or legumes) can aid pregnancy and fertility. Magnesium helps with hormones progesterone, estrogen and testosterone.
- There are more superfoods out there, such as apples, ginger, salmon, eggs, oatmeal, olive oil and carrots to name a few. You can view a more comprehensive list here.
There’s no time like the present to improve your health. Start simple by taking a tub of blueberries to work. If you’re not a big breakfast eater, try a vegie smoothie instead. There’s plenty of ways to make them taste like a normal shake. Check out some delicious recipes here.
By eating better, you’ll feel less drowsy → being less drowsy, you’re more likely to stick to your workouts → by exercising regularly, you’ll increase your energy. It’s a triumphant cycle!
Do you have a favourite superfood and recipe? Share your thoughts below.