Energy-Boosting Foods To Keep You Going

By Tim Barker, Editorial Contributor

If you find yourself dragging during the day, the culprit may be more than just a lack of sleep. Poor nutrition can sap your performance in sports and your energy for daily living.

A well-honed diet can improve your conditioning and help you recover faster from exercise and fatigue. Several foods have proven themselves to be powerhouses in that arena. But it’s not just what you eat that affects your energy level. It also matters when you eat it. Consider that when you exercise, you use energy supplied largely by carbohydrates and lipids.

“If you want to improve endurance, it’s important to regulate the metabolism of these two elements,” says Lauren Popeck, a registered dietitian at Orlando Health. “Eating a high-quality carbohydrate immediately before or during exercise can help you stay strong longer.”

What To Eat

  1. Apples: This fruit contains quercetin, a plant pigment that boosts endurance. Its anti-inflammatory properties also can speed recovery. Apples are portable and easy to store, making them an ideal snack to eat during a bike ride or after a run.
  2. Tomatoes: Lycopene, found in tomatoes, is an antioxidant that limits damage caused by free radicals during intense exercise. Try to avoid canned varieties of tomatoes that contain bisphenol A, or BPA, an endocrine-disrupting chemical tied to numerous health complications.
  3. Ginseng: This plant can act as a stimulant similar to caffeine, but without adding stress to the body.
  4. Raisins: Researchers believe that because raisins have carbohydrates, they help keep sugar levels steady during a workout. In a study at the University of California, researchers found that runners who ate raisins or energy chews ran faster than those who refueled on water alone.
  5. Beets: This root vegetable is one of the best high-energy foods. Researchers believe beetroot juice may work to boost stamina by affecting how the body processes nitrate into nitric oxide, reducing the amount of oxygen burned by the body during a workout.
  6. Eggs: It’s no wonder eggs are the perfect choice for a refreshing morning breakfast. They're rich in B vitamins, crucial to converting food to energy. The proteins in the whites are ideal for muscle recovery and muscle strength.
  7. Soybeans: These are unique when it comes to energizing the body. Soybeans contain B-complex vitamins that play a major role in converting carbohydrates into energy. The more you eat soybeans, the more fuel your body receives. One variety to consider is edamame – green soybeans. They are high in phosphorus and copper, creating an ideal combination for converting carbohydrates into energy.
  8. Nuts: The protein in nuts slows down the digestion of carbs, which improves the process of fuel conversion. A particular advantage is that they are concentrated, so you don’t have to eat large quantities to gain that boost.
  9. Quinoa: This flowering plant is not only rich in nutrients, but it’s also gluten-free. It provides you with many amino acids, which can quickly repair muscle fibers. After a long day or a tough workout, quinoa will regenerate you. Another benefit is the large quantity of carbs, which break down slowly – making this perfect for midday intake. Adding them to your diet then will give you energy in even waves for the rest of the day.
  10.  Pumpkin Seeds: These edible seeds are packed with energy. Along with carbs, they provide protein and healthy fats. Manganese, zinc and phosphorus round out this little seed’s dynamite combination.

For your next meal – whether you want to recover or increase your energy – add some of these powerhouse foods to your plate. And don’t forget the importance of staying hydrated. Water plays a critical role in circulation, chemical reactions, metabolism and elimination of waste.

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