what to eat for energy

The Complete Guide to Eating For Energy

This is a guest post by Corina Tudose, MBA, FNC. She is the founder of Healthyvore, OfficeVitamins and three-times Amazon best selling author. You can read her blog and follow her on Twitter.

How often are these little tragedies part of your day?

  • You wake up more tired than you were when you went to bed
  • You start the day with all the motivation in the world to accomplish your to-do list, but it all goes out the window when the typical 2PM energy crash comes sets in
  • You consume all these great, energy-boosting drinks and snacks but the energy boost lasts for two hours or less
  • You work out, get enough Z’s, and yet your grandma has more energy than you

If you answered “always” or “too often”, then you have a serious case of reverse energymitosis (a condition that I named myself, but that is experienced by a lot of busy people and it deserves a cool name).

Reverse energymitosis: a condition by which energy is produced to serve a short term purpose and instead of producing more energy it gets stored in our bodies as fat.

The bad news is that this happens often. The good news is that you can prevent it from happening to you with no gimmicks or time-consuming exercises.

The solution is right under our noses (and our forks): food. Continue reading and you will know exactly what to eat to stop reverse energymitosis ever happening to you.

3 Food Types You Should AVOID

Baked Goods

Croissants, muffins, cupcakes, Danishes, donuts. The list can go on and on. All these foods are made with hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated vegetable oils that are known to wreak havoc in your body. Moreover, the high sugar content paired with these high-unhealthy fats are thought to be the culprits in a condition called adrenal fatigue (an illness that appears when the adrenal glands function below the necessary level). So the next time you feel like grabbing a muffin, think how do you want to feel that day. Sluggish? Go for it. Full of energy? Skip it and choose one of the foods listed in the “9 Foods You Should ENJOY” section below.

Chocolate Bars

Have you seen the famous “Take a break, grab a KitKat” commercial?

Taking a break from whatever you are doing, can definitely energize you. Changing your environment, getting a breath of fresh air, stretching or walking are great ways to break through an energy slump.

Grabbing a sugary treat, however, is a bad idea. While you may feel temporarily relieved, within a few hours, you will feel even more sluggish. And then what? You will have to grab a bigger piece of chocolate. That’s not really a fix. That’s setting yourself up for disaster. If you have a huge chocolate tooth, continue reading. I have a healthy alternative to boosting your energy and still enjoying some chocolate.

Caffeinated Drinks and Foods

I’m a huge coffee fan and I would not tell you to stop it completely. However, if you are looking to keep your energy levels high, skip the caffeine after 3PM.

Having caffeine past 3PM gets you into a horrible loop. You are tired, but cannot fall asleep. In the morning, you wake up more tired than rested. You reach and gulp down two pots of coffee by the time you are out the door. You feel a complete lack of energy. You have more caffeine. You cannot sleep at night. The cycle begins again.

CoffeeCycle 9 Foods You Should ENJOY

Once you stop consuming the 3 foods above, your energy levels should go up. But how about making them shine? Eat the 9 foods below, for a serious boost of energy (and nutrients).

Almonds

Almonds are a great source of protein and plant based fat. Also, raw and unsalted almonds help balance your blood sugar levels to keep your energy in check.

Recommendation: Consume 10-12 almonds whenever you feel tired, or low on energy.

Quinoa

Quinoa is both a complex carbohydrate and protein which makes it the perfect energy source for breakfast. Moreover, it helps you feel full (and energized) for 3-4 hours, just enough to get you to your next meal.

Recommendation: Enjoy a cup of warm cooked quinoa, topped with one tablespoon of raisins, one fourth teaspoon of cinnamon and half a cup of almond milk for breakfast.

Salmon

Omega-3 to the rescue! If you want to make sure that your afternoons are full of energy, load up on some heart-healthy omega-3s. They boost your brain activity and help improve circulation (the better your blood circulates, the more oxygen gets to your brain, which in turn makes you feel more alert).

Recommendation: pair a grilled piece of salmon next to a fresh spinach salad and a side of brown rice pilaf or quinoa for lunch.

Coconut

Need an energy boost? Go coco-nuts. The medium chain triglycerides found in coconut oils (and pulps) are easily transformed into energy and can help prevent that feeling of sluggishness that hits in the afternoon.

Recommendation: mix two tablespoons of unsweetened shredded coconut flakes with one teaspoon of raw cocoa and enjoy it as an afternoon snack.

Lentils

Besides having lots of protein, lentils help stabilize blood sugar levels, which help prevent those nasty energy crashes.

Recommendation: Add a side lentil salad to your lunch, or cook up a quick dinner by boiling one cup of red lentils in two cups of water for 20 minutes. Once cooked, spice your dish up with some curry powder, a few chili flakes, salt and one tablespoon of coconut oil.

Citrus Fruits

Oranges, lemons and grapefruits are known to be vitamin-C power houses. But besides boosting our immune systems, citrus fruits also act as a boost of energy, particularly when we feel tired.

Recommendation: Make a low-calorie smoothie by adding a full orange and a half cup of almond milk to your blender and mix for 30 seconds until smooth.

Kale

Kale is a true superfood. It is rich in minerals and vitamins and a plant-based source of calcium. It is also a natural way to boost your energy.

Recommendation: make a yummy shredded kale salad the night before to enjoy for lunch or make some kale chips as a snack by tossing one bunch of kale and one tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil in a bowl and baking at 450F for 20-25 minutes.

Ayurvedic Water

Commonly known as hot water with lemon. Even the smell of lemon can give you an energy boost!

Recommendation: start the day by squeezing a slice of lemon into a half cup of warm water and enjoy it first thing in the morning. It will help you detoxify your body and help digest your breakfast better

70% Dark Chocolate

If you are a die-hard chocoholic, then this is the energy boost for you. Skip the sugary chocolate bars and enjoy 2-3 squares of 70% or more dark chocolate to boost your energy after lunch (remember, no caffeine after 3PM). Be mindful though. While dark chocolate has 50% less sugar than milk chocolate, it is still a high fat food, with about 10 grams of sugar per serving.

Recommendation: Enjoy half of serving (usually 2 squares) after lunch or as a 2PM snack next to half an apple.

Conclusion

If you take into account these food recommendations you should see your energy levels significantly improve, without having to modify any other life habits. Not sure where to start? Here is my recommendation: For the next 7 days avoid the 3 foods that kill your energy and choose one food from from the list of 9 that you will enjoy each day. See how you feel and give your grandma a call. I bet you will finally have more energy than her (plus it’s always nice to call your grandma).

Still have questions? Leave them in the comments below. I’d love to answer them.

corina-tudose-profileCorina Tudose, MBA, FNC is the founder of Healthyvore, a corporate wellness consulting company in Montreal, Canada. She helps companies maximize talent retention and reduce healthcare and loss of productivity costs by designing strategically integrated wellness programs that focus on total quality of life.

Corina is also the Chief Energy Officer of OfficeVitamins. OfficeVitamins are some the world’s wises, funniest and most inspirational health quotes transformed into motivational posters to inspire individuals to reach their health and wellness goals. Corina knows first-hand that healthy living is a process that takes effort, dedication and time. And a boost of OfficeVitamins is what we all need when we have a bad day and we are tempted to make unhealthy choices.

Follow Corina on Twitter @Healthyvore or check out the her blog for more health, wellness and productivity advice.