If you don’t feel as energised as you used to lately, it may just be that you are eating the wrong foods. Nutritionists say the types and the amount of food we eat play an important role in our daily energy levels.
For instance, did you know that eating a plate of beans will leave you more energised than eating four slices of bread? I guess not. But food experts note that not having the right food on one’s plate can deplete energy levels and predispose one to chronic stress and fatigue.
Chief Dietician and Nutritionist, Dr. Tomi Akinsanya, says that some solid carbohydrates that are famed to be high energy foods in the Nigerian diet are not. For him, the best way to ensure that we are energised all day is by having breakfast.
Do you recall how you suddenly feel tired towards lunch time on days you did not have breakfast? Consultant Nutritionist, Dr. Taiwo Omolayo, notes that this sensation shows that the body and the brain are running low on energy and this has negative effects on mental and cognitive functions.
Omolayo notes that food eaten in the morning restores glucose levels, an essential carbohydrate that is needed for the brain to function.
She says, “Breakfast is the meal that provides the body and brain with fuel after an overnight fast – that is the idea of the phrase breaking the fast! When you don’t eat in the morning, you are effectively running on empty stomach, like trying to start the car with no fuel!
“Eating breakfast improves your memory and concentration levels; and it can also make you happier, as it boosts your mood and lowers stress levels.”
Eating breakfast is important for everyone, but it is of utmost importance for children, Omolayo says. “Several studies among children show that those who ate in the morning had higher grades than the kids who did not,” the nutritionist notes.
Also, those who had breakfast grew and had healthier weights, compared to kids who had been denied breakfasts in the study.
“The explanation is pretty simple: just like any organ in the body, the brain needs energy which comes through food to work at its best. It is also through the diet that children get the nutrients that they need to grow.
“Children do not store up as much calories as adults do, so they especially need to eat early in the morning to help them function as they should throughout the day; else, they get cranky and throw tantrums,” Omolayo states.
She adds that people’s energy needs vary, depending on their lifestyle and age; hence, growing children who are more active would require a lot of energy, and as such should never skip any meal, either breakfast, lunch or dinner.
To stay alert all day, start by making smarter choices about what you are using to fuel your body. Below are energy-dense foods that will give a powerful boost if you include them in your daily diet.
Fruit offers a significant dose of glucose, which your body can easily metabolise into energy. Most fruits can be digested in under half an hour, which makes them a quick, nutritious way to get a burst of energy.
Bananas: Because they are composed mostly of sugars (glucose, fructose and sucrose) and fibre, bananas are a foolproof energy food. Top them with peanut or almond butter for a well-rounded snack, or slice one into your morning cereal for an extra boost that will keep you going until lunchtime.
Apples: Not only will an apple a day keep the doctor away, it’ll also give you a powerful jolt of energy. High in fibre, apples take longer to digest, so they’ll give you a more prolonged lift than many other fruit picks. Snack on apples with cheese for an especially effective pick-me-up.
Oranges: High in vitamin C, potassium and folate, this citrus fruit rations out energy steadily over time instead of giving you a quick sugar rush. Peel and eat an orange whole to benefit from the pectin and fibre in its membranes.
Food derived from plants
Foods that come straight from a tree or plant will help you maintain energy levels. Certain vegetables have all the protein, carbohydrates and good fats you need to keep you going all day. Plus, if you include them in your diet, they won’t zap your energy like acid-producing foods, but will instead help to regulate your protein intake.
Protein is an essential energy food – particularly when you are trying to drop a few pounds. If you are, replace part of your regular carbohydrate intake with proteins; this will help ensure that your muscle mass remains constant as your body metabolises fat cells as a source of energy.
Beans: Both a protein and a complex carbohydrate, beans is a must for both carnivores and vegetarians. Toss a cup into spinach salad or enjoy a bean burrito.
Salmon: Salmon has been receiving a lot of hype lately for its high content of omega-3 fatty acids, which can lower cholesterol and reduce your risk of heart disease. But this pink fish also contains protein and vitamin B6, niacin and riboflavin – all of which help convert the food you eat into energy. Top a spinach salad with salmon, or serve it with a side of brown rice and veggies for a power-packed lunch or dinner.
Eggs: Containing the highest complete form of protein in any food (a whopping 97 per cent of it can be absorbed by your body!), eggs provide 30 per cent of your daily value of protein. All of the essential amino acids that your body uses to rebuild muscle can also be found in eggs. Whether you eat them boiled, scrambled, baked, fried or as an omelette, don’t overlook the power of the incredible egg.
Culled from Punch:…………….