What is energy? A silly statement it may seem on first appearance. But, I would go so far as stating that the majority of individuals (or perhaps, my customers) don’t recognise the importance of energy until they have none. It’s only when those troublesome symptoms of lethargy, sugar cravings and headaches strike, that we have that lightbulb moment and think ‘this needs to stop’…’I need more energy’.
So, quite simply this blog will look at what energy is, where we get it from, foods that zap energy and foods that are great for energy. Finishing with a couple of lovely recipes to kick start your day with an energy-encouraging and sustaining breakfast.
The importance of energy
Energy is vital for our bodies to function properly. Our own bodies, like all living organisms are energy conversion machines. Energy in food consumed by humans is converted to work, thermal energy, and stored in fat. By far the largest fraction of energy goes to thermal energy, to drive active and involuntary bodily functions such as thinking, sleeping, moving and digesting food, although the fraction going into each form depends both on how much we eat and on our level of physical activity. If we eat more than more is needed to do work and stay warm, the remainder goes into body fat.
It’s vital to feed our bodies the correct energy and consequentially, the correct food for our bodies to work efficiently and successfully.
Foods to Avoid
Some foods can act as a metaphorical black hole to our energy supplies. It makes sense that if you fill your body with food that doesn’t deliver the appropriate energy, your body won’t function as effectively as you need which in turn leaves you feeling unhealthy and prone to tiredness and internal/external stress. Like the saying goes: ‘You wouldn’t put diesel into a car that takes petrol’. Here are a few foods to stick the red tape around:
Caffeine-There are few people who don’t rely on a morning cup of coffee, and there are many who sip on multiple servings a day. Even coffee in the morning and some sort of fizzy drink, tea, or other caffeinated beverage in the afternoon can be detrimental to your energy supply. Caffeine can leave us “tired and wired.” If we need sleep and we choose caffeine instead, we continue to throw off our natural sleep cycle. Try tapering down the amount of caffeine you drink or limiting yourself to one serving in the morning to see how it affects your quality of sleep. Our body is meant to regulate our energy supply, but constantly fueling it with fake energy only leaves us more tired each day.
Fatty Foods-Ever eat a thick burger and begin dozing off soon after? We’ve all been there. Fatty and greasy foods like burgers, fries, or almost any fast-food meal will cause an energy depletion by the end of the day – guaranteed. These foods are tough to digest and truly suck the energy out of us as they do so. Red meat is the biggest culprit in this category because of its high fat content.
Alcohol-Alcohol is a depressant and although wine may be the most common drink (aside from beer) to sip on during lunch or dinner, think again if you have a long day or night ahead. Red grapes are high in melatonin, a natural hormone that facilitates sleep. Although wine may lull you to sleep, don’t rely on alcohol to get you to bed at night.
Yoghurt-Yoghurt can be one of the healthiest foods on earth: high in protein, low in sugar, and packed with probiotics — that is if you get the right kind! Yoghurt seen on commercials should be avoided. Typically, yogurt is full of high fructose corn syrup, artificial sweeteners, artificial fruits, and other pesky chemicals. Opt for Greek yogurt or Natural Yoghurt.
Salty Snacks-Snacks like crisps and tortilla chips are full of unhealthy fats and refined carbs that have zero nutritional value. There is so much sodium packed in these snacks that they cause us to feel lethargic, to need more water, and feel overall very unhealthy. In addition, these salty snacks are full of harmful chemicals.
White Bread-White bread is typically the culprit when it comes to losing energy because it is composed of refined carbohydrates that produces high levels of insulin. Insulin “shuttles away the rapidly absorbed sugars you’ve just eaten out of your bloodstream, where they present a danger to your body.” This is the best condition for weight gain because these sugars are then stored as fat. White bread, bagels, and other refined carbs have no nutritional value.
It comes as no surprise then that fueling your body with the right energy leaves your body feeling revitalized, energized, healthy and happy. Resulting in skin that reflects the health of your insides and also a body that feels less tired and less internally/externally stressed. Personally, I can always spot a person who’s on top of their diet because they always seem to have a spring in their step, a glowing complexion and bright eyes. The ancient philosophers were right when they said ‘Beauty starts from within.’ Here are some foods that will start you on the road to a healthier life:
Brown Rice- Rich in manganese, the mineral that helps produce energy from protein and carbs, it will help you maintain high energy all day. A versatile ingredient, brown rice can be served as a side dish with your favorite lean proteins (along with nutrient-packed veggies!) for a powerhouse lunch or dinner.
Sweet Potato-High in carbohydrates and loaded with beta-carotene (vitamin A) and vitamin C, these will help fight off midday fatigue. Bonus: Kids will love this sweet treat at mealtime. Try them mashed or cut into strips, tossed with a little oil and and baked for a healthier alternative to chips.
Honey-A spoonful of honey is nature's equivalent of an energy drink. Low on the glycemic index, this natural sweetener acts as a time-released muscle fuel during exercise and helps replenish muscles post-workout. Add a sweet drizzle to anything from breakfast yoghurt to afternoon tea.
Apples- Not only will an apple a day keep the doctor away it'll also give you a powerful jolt of energy. High in fiber, apples take longer to digest, so they'll give you a more prolonged lift than many other fruit picks. Snack on apples with cheese or homemade hummus 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 fiber in the fruit's membranes. Also great added into hot water as a replacement to Lemon, to Alkalize the body first thing in the morning.
Almonds-Packed with protein, manganese, copper and riboflavin, almonds are a handy snack to keep at your desk or in your bag. Copper and manganese play an essential role in keeping energy flowing throughout the body by neutralizing toxins within cells. Riboflavin aids oxygen-based energy production.
Kale-Kale is this year’s super food without a doubt. It’s absolutely packed full of Iron, Vitamin K, A and C. It Is a powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. It’s full of calcium and a powerful detox food. Get this stuff into your morning smoothies…you won’t regret it.
If you’ve heard it once, you’ve probably heard it a million times! Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. What follows are some lovely breakfast recipes to aid you in the process of incorporating more energy sustaining foods into your daily diet.
Crispy Kale with Avocado, Sumac, Lime and Chilli on Rye Toast. (My all-time favorite!)
- Bag of Kale
- Alfez Sumac
- 1 Lime -Full of Vitamin-C and Folate. Also great for Alkalizing.
- Biona Rye Bread-Enriched with Omega Oils.
- 1 Avocado-Provides over 20 essential nutrients including, potassium, Vitamin-E, B, Folic Acid and Fiber.
- Clove of Garlic. –its active ingredient, allicin, is full of antioxidants, has anti-inflammatory properties, stimulates hair growth and lowers cholesterol.
- Apple Cider Vinegar. - has an Alkalizing effect on the body as well as being great for the skin, joints and circulation.
- Chili Flakes- The active compound in chili is capsaicin. This powerhouse compound lowers blood pressure, improves circulation, kick starts the metabolism, provides pain relief for inflammation, helps burn fat as well as being a muscle relaxant.
- Roughly chop the kale, wash and put to one side.
- Finely chop a garlic clove.
- Heat a teaspoon of coconut oil in a frying pan.
- Add the garlic followed by the kale.
- Fry the kale until leaves catch and turn crispy, around 7-10 minutes.
- Drizzle cider vinegar over kale.
- Add Rye bread to toaster-Once toasted remove and spread avocado liberally.
- Top avocado with sumac, chilli, pepper, salt and lime. Add kale from the pan.
Jumbo Oat Flakes with Blueberries and Goji berries.
- Jumbo Oat Flakes. - Contains Thiamin, B-Vitamins, Protein, Fiber, Vitamin E, Potassium.
- Blueberries- Contains potassium, manganese, copper, iron, zinc, potassium. The berries also carry a small amount of the B-complex group of vitamins such as niacin, pyridoxine, folates and pantothenic acid.
- Goji Berries- Contains Vitamin A, C, E, B1, B2, Calcium, Iron, Protein. These berries contain 19 of the essential amino acids, 21 trace minerals including germanium (an anti-cancer trace mineral not often found in foods)
- Coconut Oil. - Contains a high lauric acid content which helps lower cholesterol and blood pressure. It is also proven to improve thyroid health. It helps maintain a healthy metabolism, helps bone strength and increases absorption of Vitamin D and calcium. It is antiviral, antibacterial and anti-fungal.
- Take a handful of oats and pour water just above surface of the oats.
- Place on a medium heat and cook until oats have absorbed the water, adding more if necessary.
- Once cooked add a teaspoon or tablespoon of coconut oil and stir in until absorbed.
- Top with blueberries and Goji berries.
I hope you have found this blog informative and helpful. If there are any queries or you’d like more recipes that will help sustain your energy, don’t hesitate to email (firstname.lastname@example.org), phone (01484 680126) or call into Your Nuts. One of our lovely team will be there to help.
All the best,