Think skipping out on healthy meals is the way to go when you are busy? Truth is, we may be doing more damage than good. It may be quicker, but the effects of eating high-fat, sugary refined foods may be the exact reason why you can’t get past 3 P.M. without a cup of coffee or energy drink. Incorporating a few of the following foods may help keep you awake and alert long enough to accomplish everything you set out to in a day’s work.
Not to overlook any basics, it is important to remember that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It doesn’t make much sense to think that you will have energy without putting a source of calories into your body before you require it to move! And if you are an active individual, your body requires sustained energy found only in energy-dense foods.
- Include at least one yolk, as it is high in B vitamins, which are responsible for metabolizing energy (ATP) within the body. Eggs are the gold standard for protein quality measurement by nutritionists, and they will keep you feeling full throughout the rest of the morning.
– Oatmeal & Whole Grain Cereals
- Choose low hypoglycemic sources of carbohydrates (fiber) that allow for the slow release of glucose into the bloodstream.
– Fruit and Veggie Smoothies
- Dark leafy green vegetables such as spinach (high in beta carotene and Vitamin C) are an easy way to sneak vitamins into your smoothie without an overwhelming taste!
- Incorporate berries for a low-sugar source of antioxidants that will help clean up free radicals caused by oxidative stress in the body.
- Fortified almond milk or low-fat dairy milk will also provide the vitamins and minerals required to metabolize energy.
– Dark Chocolate
- The high cacao (not coco) content is extremely high in antioxidants and contains a large amount of caffeine in natural form. Dark chocolate has been shown to reduce stress and improve mood.
– Almonds, Pepitas, and Walnuts
- Contain healthy unsaturated fats that provide long lasting energy. In high intensity exercise, carbohydrates are the main source of glucose that supplies the muscles. Once carbohydrates are depleted, the body relies on fat to convert to glucose. Moderate intensity exercise also burns fat, and majority of daily physical activity will use fat as its fuel source.
- Natural source of caffeine… in moderation!
- This is a gluten-free carbohydrate that contains a large percentage of protein. It is one of the only plant sources of protein that is considered a complete protein based on its inclusion of all essential amino acids.
– Sweet potatoes
- Yams and sweet potatoes contain high amounts of beta-carotene. Be sure to eat the skin, which contains majority of the fiber from the potato. Fiber will keep you fuller longer, since it takes a good amount of time for the body to digest.
- Beans are a plant source of protein that are low-fat, cholesterol free, and usually high in fiber, as well.
– Fresh Fish (tilapia, cod, salmon, tuna, etc.)
- Contain omega-3 fatty acids, which are healthy fats. Be sure to eat without breading or processed ingredients!
Lastly, stay hydrated! Water is necessary for chemical reactions to occur in the body, including converting food to energy. Remember when you are choosing fast foods that there are healthy options available for a quick fix, too. At the end of the day, you’ll thank yourself for keeping your body nourished.
-Taylor Thompson, Fitness and Wellness Intern