Was it on a weekend? Thought so. America is a nation of the over-worked and under-rested. Luckily, while it might not be possible to change your workload or schedule, there’s a healthy way to boost energy and fuel workouts without the looming sugar crash that comes along with energy drinks. Lisa Moskovitz, R.D., founder of The NY Nutrition Group, shares 7 top energy-boosting foods that will get you through your superhuman schedule without feeling exhausted. Bonus: They're probably already in your kitchen.
“Egg yolks are naturally rich in B-vitamins, which are responsible for converting food into energy and they also have Vitamin D to maintain strong bones. Plus, they’re one of the best sources of protein, which is essential particularly after an intense training session when muscle breakdown occurs the most,” Moskovitz says.
Energy Tip: If the idea of eating whole eggs makes you nervous, stick to one whole egg at a time. Add 2-3 egg whites into omelets, plus filling veggies, for a lean energy-filled breakfast.
Soybeans are high in nutrients that boost your energy levels like B-vitamins, copper and phosphorous. “B-complex vitamins work to break down carbohydrates we consume into glucose for fuel. At the same time they help transport oxygen throughout the body. Both copper and phosphorous are involved in converting eaten food into energy and releasing into cells so its available for use by the body. Edamame also delivers exercise-friendly carbs, fiber and protein for muscles. Just 1 cup of shelled soy beans packs in over 8g of filling fiber and 17g of protein,” Moskovitz says.
Energy Tip: The best time to choose this snack is when you're replenishing energy stores after a tough workout. You can also add a touch of salt to replenish lost electrolytes.
“High-fiber whole grain cereals slow the release of glucose into the bloodstream which ultimately translates to more consistent energy levels throughout the day. Sudden increase of glucose in the blood, which occurs after eating refined carbs like candy causes spikes in blood sugar, and excess insulin production from the pancreas,” Moskovitz says. “Insulin is responsible for getting the glucose out of the blood and into cells. When glucose levels get high too quickly, so do insulin levels.”
Energy Tip: A quality fortified whole-grain cereals boasts nearly all the important vitamins and minerals, so read labels carefully. General Mills Fiber One gets Moskovitz's stamp of approval. Whichever cereal you choose should have at least 5 grams of fiber per serving. Serve with skim milk or nonfat Greek Yogurt for extra protein.
“Nuts and dried fruit are the ideal combination of healthy fats, fiber and protein. While refined carbs that are void of fiber quickly break down into glucose for short bursts of energy, fiber helps slow down glucose-release so there is always a steady supply. Similar to fiber, protein also slows down metabolism of carbs and repairs muscle damage to prevent post-training soreness. Fats such as nuts, seeds and oils are notorious for providing long-lasting energy particularly for longer runs or swims over an hour. Since carbs are the first macronutrient to get used during activity, they can become easily depleted at which point the body relies on energy from fat,” Moskovitz says.
Energy Tip: Make your own trail mix to avoid excess sugar and oil; it's easy and you can tailor the mix to your favorite flavor combos. Try mixing raw nuts such as pistachios, almonds or peanuts with seeds and dried fruit. Add in some whole-grain cereal or pretzels to pack in more fueling carbohydrates.
“Quinoa is a gluten-free grain that contains more protein than any other grain or rice. The grain is so rich in amino acids, that it is considered a complete source of protein, high in lysine, methionine and cysteine—ideal for post-workout meals to help build muscle. It is also high in folate, magnesium, phosphorus and manganese, making it a nutrient-packd source of carbohydrates for long-lasting energy levels,” says Dr. Lindsey Duncan, celebrity nutritionist (he’s worked with Tony Dorsett and Reggie Bush), naturopathic doctor and co-founder of Genesis Today superfood products.
Energy Tip: Quinoa is a great replacement for wheat or refined carbohydrates since it's gluten-free, packed with protein and can help support a healthy cardiovascular system, blood pressure levels and bowel health. Simply switch out a grain, like bread, rice or pasta, for quinoa and feel those energy levels rise, Dr. Duncan recommends.
“A handful of raw pepitas or dry roasted pumpkin seeds can give you a natural jolt to power through a workout. Pumpkin seeds are a good source of protein, healthy fats and fiber, keeping you feeling full and energized longer,” Dr. Duncan says. “They also contain manganese, magnesium, phosphorus and zinc, which provide additional energy support to maximize gym time.”
Energy Tip: Pumpkin seed oil is another great way to reap the benefits if you don't want to keep the seeds on-hand. Dr. Duncan recommends the GenEssentials Superfruit Oil 3-6-7-9 Blend found at Whole Foods.
“Energy boosting goji berries have been used for thousands of years in Chinese medicine to help increase energy and enhance the release of hormones. Goji increases the body’s ability to handle stress and support healthy mood, mind and memory—all while giving you the get-up-and-go energy needed to get your workout to the next level,” Dr. Duncan says. “Goji is also beneficial for increasing blood flow, which helps to oxygenate all of the cells and tissues of the body, including the sex organs, which increases libido—that’s why they call goji the ‘Viagra of China.’”
Energy Tip: “Get goji in liquid form as liquids are more easily assimilated into the body—you would have to eat hundreds of times more dried goji berries to get the same benefits,” Dr. Duncan says.
Courtesy of Men's Fitness