Every day people ask how they can just get a little more pep in their step. Whether it’s an energy food, an energy supplement or some form of exercise they can do to beat the fatigue, energy seems to be the one thing everyone wants a little bit more of.
This is not just a personal crisis, it’s darn near a national emergency. We are all burned out, overextended, under-rested and overstimulated. In short, we are just plain, flat-out tired.
And it is affecting everyone. It’s not just the sick that are tired. The busy mom, the stressed-out dad, the busy executive and the average teenager. Across this country, people are falling asleep in their Wheaties®…which may be part of the problem.
In this article, I’m going to help you help you ease your fatigue and regain energy with seven delicious, energy-boosting foods that will skyrocket your stamina and help you take on the world.
You Truly Are What You Eat
Let’s face it: Food is fuel. Every single organ and cell in your body needs the food you take in to give it the nutrients it needs to function. But—and this is the key—not all fuel is created equal.
Your body thrives on nutrients and macronutrients from healthy proteins, fats and carbohydrates. However, if you fill the tank with sugars, trans fats and allergens, the body (just like a car) may run, but not effectively nor efficiently. In time, it will break down.
Fortunately, the opposite is also true. If you feed your body what it needs, it can do miraculous things. It can ease depression, protect against diabetes and heart disease and even fend off memory loss or even Alzheimer’s disease. And energy? Forget about it! The right food is truly the secret to great, long-lasting energy.
If you want to perform like a high-tech, well-oiled machine, then you have to fuel your body like one. You wouldn’t stick any old gas into the tank of a Ferrari racecar, would you? Of course not! Nor should you fuel your body with chips and doughnuts.
Fuel yourself with rich, nutrient-dense, whole food that keeps your blood sugars level, gives you sustained energy all day long, feeds your cells the vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals they need to function optimally and nourish yourself with the healthy protein and fat you need for growth, performance, health and, of course, energy.
The following seven foods can help you boost—and more importantly sustain—your energy day in and day out. Remember, at the end of the day, food is your number one fuel. Choose wisely.
Energy Food #1: An Apple a Day
Apples are one of the best energy enhancers around. While they are best known as a great source of the anti-inflammatory compound quercetin, apples are also a great source of boron, which is key for energy. In fact, one study found that college students who took 3 mg of boron stopped falling asleep in class!
Aim for at least one apple a day.
Energy Food #2: Potent Pomegranate
Pomegranates may be all the rage here in the United States, but this funny little fruit has been used medicinally in the Middle East, Iran, India, Egypt and Greece for thousands of years.
High in antioxidants (especially polyphenols) and ellagic acid, pomegranates have been found to help repair free-radical damage. Specifically, research indicates that pomegranates may play a role in preventing and treating cancer and heart disease.
On the energy front, pomegranates’ high nutrient profile gives your cells the fuel they need for optimal speed and stamina. And speaking of stamina, the pomegranate has been coined “Nature’s Viagra®” due to its positive effect on erectile dysfunction. No wonder it has long been associated with love, sensuality and, yes, energy.
Enjoy one 4- to 8-ounce glass of unsweetened pomegranate juice per day.
Energy Food #3: Pile on the Peppers
I’m not talking about any old peppers…I mean hot peppers. Hot peppers like cayenne, habaneros and jalapenos contain capsaicin, a nutrient that is known to boost metabolism and energy.
Capsaicin is a vasodilator, meaning it helps to dilate and relax your blood vessels, which in turn increases circulation. It also increases body temperature, suppresses body fat accumulation and promotes energy metabolism.
Dice up a couple of hot peppers and add to your favorite chicken or beef dish a couple of times a week.
Energy Food #4: Quirky Quinoa
Hot on the heels of the gluten-free craze, a funny little grain called quinoa has emerged. This ancient grain isn’t even a grain at all. It’s a seed, and it has the highest protein content of any “cereal” grain around. Plus, quinoa is loaded with both fiber and iron.
And quinoa is gluten-free to boot. Let me tell you why this is key.
Gluten is one of the top three food allergens in this country. Gluten is a protein found in grains such as wheat, rye, barley and sometimes oats. If you are allergic to gluten (i.e. celiac disease) or have a gluten sensitivity, eating these types of grains can make you bloated and tired. By eating gluten-free, you can regain your energy (and lose the belly bloat).
Quinoa is such an energy powerhouse that legend says the Incan armies would march for days on end fueled by nothing more than “war balls,” which were made up of quinoa and fat. While you may not make war balls for the office potluck, quinoa is sure to help you battle through even your toughest day.
Aim for ½ cup to one cup of quinoa three to four times a day.
Energy Food #5: Get Nutty
If you are looking for a quick energy boost, reach for raw, unsalted nuts and/or nut butters. Nuts are a great source of healthy fat, protein and fiber. The protein and fat keep you full and your blood sugar stable, while the minerals boost energy and stamina.
My favorite nuts are almonds, walnuts, pecans, pistachios and macadamia nuts, as well as their butters. Just be sure to avoid the overly salted versions.
Aim for one ounce of nuts (or nut butters) a day.
Energy Food #6: Sassy Sardines
It may sound “canny,” but sardines may be pretty close to the perfect energy food. These salty little suckers are a quick, easy, first-class source of both protein and omega-3 fats, both of which are critical for energy and metabolism.
Look for sardines packed in sardine oil or olive oil. Avoid those with soybean or cottonseed oils. Enjoy with crackers, on top of a salad or straight out of the can.
Aim for one can of sardines a couple of times a week.
Energy Food #7: Head This Whey
High-quality whey protein powder is one of the most readily absorbed protein sources around. Plus, whey contains all of the amino acids your body needs in ideal balance. This translates to sustained energy.
Just be careful when choosing a whey protein powder, as many are just milkshakes in disguise. Look for a product that comes from grass-fed cows, is pesticide-free and doesn’t contain artificial flavors or sweeteners. If it also contains added nutrients, all the better.
Aim for one scoop whey protein powder a day.
For a true energy boost, combine several of these energy foods in one fatigue-busting apple pie smoothie. In a blender, mix 8 ounces water, one scoop whey protein powder, one apple (chopped), 2 teaspoons cinnamon and one tablespoon pecan butter (or one ounce chopped pecans). Blend well and enjoy!