A brand-new season is here, and for many, it’s the perfect opportunity to amp up your goals and get back on track with a healthy lifestyle. As important as sleep and regular exercise are for achieving your SMART fitness goals, the food that you eat is probably the most important element to living a healthy, happy life. Nutritious foods not only help you perform your best, but they can give you that boost of energy that you need to power through the day. That’s why it’s important to eat foods that increase energy.
It can be hard to know what foods to choose to help you feel your best. Here are five of the best types of foods that you should be eating if you want to enjoy increased energy and sharpness throughout the day.
1. Fresh Fruits and Vegetables
It can be tempting to reach for snack cakes and sugary protein bars throughout the day. However, if you want to really be at peak performance, you should be getting in plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. Fill your grocery cart with crisp apples, carrots, broccoli florets, and lots of fresh berries, and you will always have a refrigerator full of healthy, hearty snacks that serve to increase your energy — naturally!
2. Eat Lean Protein for Energy
Red meat can inject certain healthy fats into your diet, but proteins such as steak and hamburger meat can also increase your intake of saturated fat, which can clog your arteries and lead to certain health conditions. For maximum health benefits, consider adding lean proteins to your healthy meal plan. These proteins are ideal foods that increase energy. Meats like salmon, preferably wild-caught, chicken, turkey, and other fish, can all keep your blood pressure stabilized and give you steady-burning energy that lasts throughout the day.
3. Oats Offer Up Hearty Carbohydrates and Help Maintain Blood Pressure
Oats are another food that increases energy. They do this by preventing blood sugar spikes. While oats are often thought of as a breakfast food, snacks that include oats, such as protein balls, are satiating and delicious, and a great option for people of all ages. It is best to avoid instant oatmeal packets since those can include lots of sugar and additives, and opt for plain, old-fashioned, or steel-cut oats. If you want to beef up your oats and add some additional flavor, add a sprinkle of fresh berries for extra carbs, or top them with a light drizzle of honey or agave syrup for a little extra sweetness.
4. Choose Whole Grains Over White, Refined Carbs
Refined carbs, such as white flour, sugar, and sugary cereals, might give you an instant boost, but they offer little in the way of long-term health benefits and aren’t great for sustaining energy. If you want to stay satisfied longer (and get extra fiber) always opt for whole-grain options, such as whole-wheat bread, whole-grain pasta, and other food items that contain complex carbs. According to the Mayo Clinic, eating more whole grains can even reduce the risk of heart disease.
It can be difficult to replace every item in your pantry at once, so try making small changes, such as switching out white bread for wheat bread one month, and the next month, replacing all white pasta with whole-grain pasta. Making these changes might seem small at the time, but can add up to big health benefits as the months progress.
5. Eat Mostly Unprocessed Foods
In addition to cardio exercises and staying active, eating unprocessed foods is a great way to stay healthy and happy. By eating mostly whole foods, such as fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, nuts and seeds, you will not only experience sustained energy, but you could discover that you have stabilized blood pressure and possibly even lose some weight. Ultimately, finding the right eating plan will require some trial and error, but finding balance in your health will pay off in a way that might just change your life.
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