We all live such hectic lives these days, leaving very little time to really look after ourselves. Cooking from scratch is now a rarity for most of us during the week, and we’re getting fatter and unhealthier as a result.
One issue many people grapple with is a lack of energy. When we need a mid-morning pick-me-up, we turn to coffee or processed sugar. In the case of coffee, this is merely giving us the illusion of energy. In the case of sugar, it is providing us with a very quick energy boost — but the come-down can leave us more tired than before.
If you really want to boost your energy levels throughout the day, the best way to go about it is by eating more natural sources of energy. Whether you’re snacking, cooking meals from scratch or blending up a storm, these seven energy packed foods should be feature regularly in your diet.
Lentils are a good source of slow-release energy (the good carbohydrates people keep talking about). Unlike chocolate and biscuits, they are packed with nutrients, and their high fibre content helps to regulate blood sugar levels and the digestive system. Adding lentils to boxed salads should give you the energy to get through a hectic afternoon at work.
2. Brown rice
Brown rice is rich in manganese; this is the mineral that turns protein and carbs into raw energy. These slow-release carbs deliver a steady stream of energy throughout the day, rather than the short burst of energy provided by processed carbs. A lunch of lean protein and brown rice will give you the energy to get through your afternoon productively. A rice salad with tuna, cucumber and sweetcorn, for example, makes the perfect boxed lunch for the office.
3. Sweet potato
Sweet potatoes are rich in the good carbohydrates that provide us with a steady supply of energy throughout the day. They also happen to be very rich in vitamin A and vitamin C, which can both help to fight afternoon fatigue. Roast them in strips and eat them as a mid-afternoon snack at work; they’re full of flavour, and a great deal more nutritious than a packet of crisps.
Don’t reach for a sugary, caffeine-laden energy drink the next time your energy levels crash at work. Instead, reach for the honey jar. Add a few teaspoons to a cup of hot water, and finish your natural energy drink off with some lemon juice. This tasty drink will release fuel for your muscle at regular intervals, and help you to concentrate on the job at hand.
Have you ever wondered why runners and tennis players are often spotted munching on a banana? Well, it’s because the humble banana is absolutely packed with natural sugars. Sucrose, fructose and glucose are packed into the average banana, along with the fibre needed to ensure it is released into your bloodstream slowly. To give yourself a steady supply of energy for the work day ahead, eat a breakfast of peanut butter on whole wheat toast, topped with slices of banana.
Be honest: how many times do you chomp on a bag of sweets at work in order to keep your energy levels up? Instead of snacking on chocolate and candies, load up on almonds whilst you’re at work. They are packed with copper, manganese, protein and riboflavin — everything a productive worker needs to stay on top of their game. Riboflavin promotes oxygen-based energy production, and the other nutrients combine to neutralise toxins.
Natural yoghurt is rich in magnesium, which is important for the release of energy. For a healthy, pre-work breakfast, eat a small bowl of yogurt with chopped almonds and banana. Yoghurt should also feature regularly in your lunches if your work is particularly active, as it is good at helping your body to replace sources of glycogen.
If you’re eating the right foods, getting regular exercise and sleeping well, you can maintain your energy levels at work without turning to calorific snacks.