If you typically turn to chocolate, potato chips, or coffee for a quick pick-me-up when your energy flags, wait – there’s a better way. These 7 foods will keep you going longer while making you stronger. And they’re great additions to a healthy diet, too.
1. Quinoa, Farro, Spelt and Kamut
These so-called “ancient grains” have all the benefits of whole grains and are also rich in zinc, vitamin B-3, and many other energy boosting vitamins and minerals. Higher in protein than wheat, ancient grains are considered “good” carbs, providing a more sustained energy release than white flour. Highly versatile, these grains make a great wheat substitute when baking, or you can serve them as a side dish or add to soups and salads.
2. Garbanzo Beans/Chickpeas
Chickpeas – and the hummus that’s made from them – are one of the best food sources of magnesium, a mineral that plays a major role in energy metabolism. Magnesium relaxes blood vessels, boosting blood flow, keeping your brain and body functioning at maximum capacity. Nutritional studies show that the typical American diet is low in magnesium, and chickpeas, 22mg of magnesium per one-cup serving, are a great place to get more of this important mineral. 9
Almonds are turning up on many lists of “superfood” for good reason. They pack a protein punch for sustained energy release, but unlike meat they actually lower cholesterol and triglycerides rather than the other way around. Almonds also contain the type of healthy fat that brain cells need to function well. Keep a handful of almonds on your desk, or make an afternoon snack from whole grain bread topped with almond butter.
4. Tuna Fish
Rich in brain-boosting omega-3 fatty acids, tuna is also packed with protein and B vitamins, providing a sustained source of stamina that should carry you a good portion of the day. Light tuna packed in water is best; put it atop a salad or layer it on whole wheat crackers for a light lunch or quick snack.
Did you know that dehydration is a common cause of those energy crashes we tend to experience mid-morning and late in the afternoon? To the rescue come melons, which are vitamin and mineral-packed, but also made up of 90-percent water, so you can rehydrate while you eat. Melon is great on its own, and can make a surprisingly delicious addition to your lunchtime salad as well.
6. Pumpkin and Sunflower Seeds
Magnesium, zinc, potassium, manganese, phosphorus are just some of the minerals in these super-healthy seeds, which are also high in protein and rich in vitamin E. Seeds are also a good source of the healthy fats that feed the central nervous system.
7. Green Tea
In addition to containing a rich supply of inflammation-fighting antioxidants, green tea contains two phytochemicals that boost both physical and mental energy. First, there’s L-theanine, which gives you a coffee-like jolt of energy without that jittery feeling. Then there’s EGCG (epigallocatechin-3-gallate), which in recent studies has been shown to rev up thinking and improve memory. It may even play a role in preventing Alzheimer’s and dementia. So fill up that teapot!