Long workdays coupled with unhealthy eating patterns leave most of us feeling like we could use more energy. And many times we look for quick fixes like coffee or soda for an instant afternoon caffeine boost.
While the immediate jolt feels good, soon enough we’re struggling again with fatigue — and unfortunately an afternoon nap is no longer in the cards for most of us! Especially with summer plans in full swing, it’s easy to feel run down this time of the year when our social calendars fill up with multiple meals out and not enough restorative sleep.
Keep this list handy when selecting your next meal or when you start to feel sluggish — use our tips and we promise you’ll be feeling more energetic and recharged in no time!
Water, water, water – you hear it every day, but for good reason! Our bodies are about 60% water so yes, this means your skin, muscles, and brain are mostly made of water. Proper hydration is key to a healthy body! Good old H2O is the way to go when it comes to beverages. Studies suggest that even mild dehydration can slow your metabolism and reduce your energy. Keep hydrated with water and avoid “hunger for thirst.” Remember, you should drink at least eight glasses of water per day. A few tips to help up your water intake:
- Add lemon or orange
- Add basil, mint, and cucumber
- A pinch of cayenne pepper
- Switch up flat for bubbly water
I’m sure you know by now that eggs are a great source of protein (6.5 grams of protein in one medium egg!). But, did you know that eggs are also loaded with a bunch of necessary vitamins and minerals to boost energy and immunity? When you eat some eggs, you’re also fueling up your body with iron and zinc. Iron is vital to a woman’s body to help boost energy and relieve you of feeling run down and tired. Zinc is an extra boost to your immune system and aids in turning your food into energy.
Try This: Scramble three eggs, add some avocado, salsa, and wrap in a tortilla for an energy-boosting breakfast.
You’ve probably heard that walnuts are good for your mind because of their eerie familiarity to our brain. They are jam-packed with nutrients, and something we don’t get enough of in our average modern diet. Just a handful of these can give you up to 90% of your recommended daily intake of omega-3 fatty acids. Not only does this boost your energy, but studies have shown that adding omega-3’s to your diet can protect you from high blood pressure, stroke risks, and certain cancers. These inconspicuous nuts are loaded with anti-inflammatory benefits, and they taste great too.
Try This: Add a handful of walnuts with some cranberries and banana chips in a zip-lock bag for a tropical boost to-go!
Popeye the Sailor didn’t down cans of spinach for no reason. Spinach is loaded with iron to help fight sluggishness and strengthen muscles. The next time you’re feeling tired and out of it, just think green! This leafy green will save you from your tired eyes and perk you up so you can take on the day with energy and vitality.
Try This: Stick a handful of spinach leaves in a blender and mix with some frozen pineapple, ginger, lemon juice, and coconut water for a zesty green smoothie.
The Mediterranean is famous for both healthy and delicious eats, but Greek culture certainly wins when it comes to knowing what to do with yogurt. Greek yogurt is higher in protein and lowers in sugar and sodium than traditional yogurt. Greek yogurt will keep you fuller longer and that makes your belly happy. Stick to 2% plain or whole fat and add your own drizzle of honey or splash of vanilla or cacao. This is an easy, on-the-go breakfast option if you are running out the door — and it will keep you going until lunch! Remember Greek yogurt can be used:
- In quick bread, cakes, muffins, pancakes, sweets, and baked goods
- As a great meat marinade or dip base with veggies
- For a quick and easy dessert — dip blueberries into Greek yogurt and freeze
Bananas are the most popular fruit in America (too bad they aren’t red, white, or blue). Do bananas contain essential vitamins that provide natural energy and the best part? They don’t need to be dressed up! A plain banana with a slab of nut butter is an awesome snack as bananas provide a lasting energy boost without the common crash. One medium banana has 105 calories and is loaded with electrolyte potassium (422 grams) so keep them close. Ways to incorporate bananas in your meals:
- Make sweet farro or quinoa salad with sliced bananas
- Spread nut butter for on top for a protein packed snack
- Freeze them for a refreshing snack
- Use them while baking and cut out some of the flour
Always crave a little something sweet after lunch or dinner? Right there with you! Dark chocolate contains natural stimulant theobromine (similar to our caffeinated friend, coffee) that gives you a feel-good buzz. Turns out, chocolate may also give your love life a little boost — this treat is commonly thought of as an aphrodisiac. Aim for 1 ounce (or one square) of 70% cacao or more. Try this:
- 1-ounce dark chocolate straight up with a cup of herbal tea
- Melt ½ ounce dark chocolate and dip or drizzle over strawberries or dried apricots
- Add a few tablespoons of cocoa powder to coffee, yogurt, or oatmeal
Lastly, and don’t forget…
When it comes to energy, it takes two to tango. Beyond eating the right foods, it is important to not forget a daily dose of sweat. We all know exercise burns calories, but it also helps us sleep better, boosts our mood, and speeds up our metabolism. Many times we leave the gym sweaty, sore, and dare I say, energized? That’s right when you’re heart is pumping your body releases endorphins that increase energy levels. And as always, be sure to stay hydrated before, during, and after any sweat session. Eat right, feel the burn, and up the ante on your energy levels!