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Energizing Foods to Power Through the Day

January 19, 2013 | Kait Fortunato

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Feeling drained and worn out and it's not even lunchtime yet? How can you energize through the rest of the day and power up a practice-worthy performance?

What you eat and how you feel are directly related. Sure, other variables come into play regarding energy levels, but eating unhealthy food increases cravings, deflates your mood and leaves you feeling fatigued. Don't rely on quick fix, highly caffeinated energy drinks or sugary foods. (Read YOU Docs: Q&A on Energy Drinks and How to Boost and Maintain Energy.)

To stay energized and focused, include these foods in your daily diet:

Complex Carbohydrates

Foods like oatmeal, brown rice and whole grain bread are the body's preferred source of fuel. Because these types of carbohydrates digest more slowly, they do not cause blood sugar spikes. Their high fiber content also keeps you fuller longer, so you can focus on what you're doing. The B vitamins in complex carbohydrates also help your body's energy levels.

Beans

Speaking of fiber, beans are an excellent choice for boosting energy levels throughout the day. Fiber steadies your energy levels throughout the day rather than giving you jolts and crashes.

Nuts


Nuts are a great source of healthy fats, the body's backup energy source. More important, nuts like cashews, almonds and hazelnuts are rich in magnesium, a mineral that plays a key role in converting sugar into energy.

Leafy Greens


Vegetables such as kale, collards and spinach contain a variety of vitamins and minerals, specifically vitamin C and vitamin A, both important for energy.

Fresh Fruit

Choosing fruit for some of your carbohydrates gives you a quick source of natural energy. Berries of bright colors also provide antioxidants that can improve cognition. Bananas are high in potassium, which helps with muscle contraction. They also contain glucose, an immediate energy source.

Lean Meats


Chicken, turkey and lean beef provide your body with tyrosine to boost levels of the brain chemicals dopamine and norepinephrine, which help you feel more alert and focused. Lean protein also helps you maintain strength to physically help you get through your day.

Water

Staying hydrated throughout the day promotes proper metabolism and boosts your energy. Drink more water instead of instant energy zappers like sugary beverages and sports drinks.

Also, just as important:  eat breakfast and fuel consistently throughout the day.

Kait Fortunato
- Kait Fortunato is a registered dietitian at Rebecca Bitzer & Associates, a large and experienced nutrition practice in Maryland. She focuses on individualized nutritional recommendations...
Kait Fortunato
- Kait Fortunato is a registered dietitian at Rebecca Bitzer & Associates, a large and experienced nutrition practice in Maryland. She focuses on individualized nutritional recommendations...
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