Let’s get one things straight. Carbs are NOT the enemy! They are perfect fuel source to get you through the day. Your brain takes up a lot of the energy you expend throughout the day, and carbs are it’s primary fuel source. If you don’t eat carbs (the right ones) you head will be fuzzy, you’ll lack energy and even things like libido can suffer. So, here are my top 5 carbs that will help you to power through the day.
1. Quinoa: A tasty carb which is actually also high in protein. It delivers a complete protein and oodles of vitamins such as B6, potassium, thiamin, niacin, riboflavin, plus minerals such as magnesium, copper, folate and zinc AND also phytonutrients which fight inflammation and disease. I often swap cooked quinoa for my oats and make a delicious quinoa porridge!
2. Legumes (i.e lentils, peas and beans): They contain complex carbs, fibre and protein. So they fill you up!
3. Rye or pumpernickel bread: The darker the bread the better. Whole grains are FULL of fibre. Rye in particular has been championed among the weight loss world as it fills you up, and doesn’t spike your blood sugar levels (like white breads, pastas, rices and processed sugary foods do) which in turn leads to uncontrollable hunger and diminished energy levels.
4. Oats: My absolute favourite! Oats are a slow release carb, so therefore they are a fantastic breakfast choice, because slow release carbs essentially drip feed you for hours, unlike sugary cereals and jams and croissants which will spike your blood sugar and you will get the crash straight away, finding yourself hungry and tired. Oats are also a great way to get your cholesterol lowering soluble fibre.
5. Sweet potatoes: Chock full of beta carotene which is essential for vision and a healthy immune system. And a great alternative to the starchy white potato. Slice into wedges and pop in the oven for a healthy alternative to stodgy chips!
TOP 5 HEALTHY ENERGY BOOSTERS
We find ourselves in an age where everyone seems to be multitasking, and finding the energy to keep up is almost impossible without some sort of caffeine, sugary food or energy drink. These just give you a quick high, then a major crash. So here are my top 5 healthy energy boosters.
1. Eggs: The yolk of an egg is naturally rich in B-vitamins and B vitamins aid in converting food into energy. Eggs also contain Vitamin D, responsible for strong bones and of course the protein content helps to rebuild muscle after a training session. Protein beats sugar every time when it comes to feeling fuller and giving you more energy, and it is better at stimulating the cells that keep us awake for longer. Keep your body running on amino acids, which can also be found in things like edamame beans, chicken and fish.
2. Beetroot: In order to maintain enough energy to train well, your blood needs to carry oxygen around the body to the muscles efficiently. Beetroot can increase this oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood, and not just that, it has been and has also been found to reduce the amount of oxygen that muscles require in order to function optimally. This means therefore that your energy and stamina will be increased.
3. Water: The importance of water on energy levels is underestimated. One of the most common causes of fatigue is dehydration, because if there is not enough fluid in your body, then there is less of a transport system for the nutrients in the blood that we use for energy, and your blood volume can drop. A result of this is that your heart will have to work extra hard to supply your cells with oxygen. Lack of hydration can cause dizziness, fatigue and even impair short-term memory!
4. Dark chocolate (cacao): Cacao is one of my all time favourites.. It is the good stuff before the big corporations add all the sugar and dairy to make it into the “chocolate” you know and love. Cacao has more antioxidants than any plant food on earth and the flavonoids in dark chocolate stimulate bioactive compounds in the brain, which boost energy. The darker the chocolate the better and its full of natural compounds, some of which are mood enhancing like serotonin, endorphins and tryptophan, all of which have been shown to ease depression and create feelings of happiness.
5. An apple a day: It’s a simple one, but apples are a great energy booster because they are packed with Vitamin C and fibre. They are also a complex carbohydrate, providing a glycogen source, essential for making energy within the body. And as we all know, no energy equals fatigue!
Apart from these energy sources we should always aim to incorporate the following into our daily lives where possible, as they are also the key to a healthy source of mental energy.
- Make sure you sleep well. A bad nights sleep will lead to an exhausted day.
- Breathe deeply. The more oxygen you breathe in, the more oxygen your cells have access to. And oxygen is a vital component of the body’s energy making system.
- Connect with nature. Believe it or not, getting outside and feeling the grass under your feet, or the wind in your hair, can re-vitalise you in ways no amount of caffeine can!
- Smile. A positive mind, will lead to a positive energy. And positive energy creates a spring in your step!