Women are charged with many responsibilities some of which keep them on their toes all day long. It is easy for one to miss out on meals or eat unhealthily and the result is reduced energy levels that make one less effective. This could also be a threat to your health. Natural foods are the best energy boosters. We give you five natural foods that refuel your body quickly.
Many people turn to energy drinks when they feel they are running low on energy levels. This is not the best way to fuel your body, as these drinks are very high in sugar content and lack in nutrients. Research shows that natural foods are best at boosting your energy and keeping your body healthy, even better than supplements. Nutritionists recommend that you eat real foods first and then use supplements if you still need to.
Real unprocessed foods provide so many more nutritional benefits and should always be your first choice. The fibre, vitamins and minerals found in natural foods cannot be replicated in energy drinks or supplements, particularly when you are not sure about the quality of the supplements.
Here are five readily available foods that you can pick to fuel your body with natural goodness.
Bananas: The banana is a nutrition powerhouse. A study by Appalachian State University in the US shows that bananas are just as effective as carbohydrate sports drinks for boosting sportsmen performance. What sets bananas apart is that they are packed with antioxidants, fibre, potassium and vitamin B6, which is used by the body to convert proteins and carbohydrates into energy.
Bananas also contain a healthier blend of sugars than energy drinks, which is more beneficial for the body. Potassium in bananas stimulates electoral impulses in your muscles to boost performance, while sodium works with potassium to give you a post-sweat electrolyte boost. Their easily digestible simple sugars provide energy quickly, so eat one when you feel the need to refuel. The other plus for bananas is that they come in their own packaging so you don’t have to worry about cleaning them before eating.
Beetroot: A study by St. Louis University in US found that eating beetroot helps rejuvenate sluggish muscles by raising blood nitrate levels. Nitrate widens blood vessels, which, in turn, improves oxygen supply to your muscles. Another study by University of Exeter in UK found that drinking beetroot juice an hour before exercising or engaging in any heavy manual task increased endurance, so beetroot is the perfect re-fuelling food when you are feeling low.
Watercress: This peppery salad leaf is packed with antioxidants and helps minimise the stress caused by over-exhaustion. Edinburgh Napier University found that watercress could help restore energy levels and help combat that natural stress working hard creates in the body.
Green tea: Not only is green tea refreshing and great for fat burning, it can also give you more energy and calm your nerves. It contains antioxidants, polyphenols (active plant nutrients) and catechins, which can help increase 24-hour energy expenditure and fat oxidation, according to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Green tea also raises levels of the chemicals dopamine and GABA in the brain, both of which have a calming and focussing effect. It is one of the only few natural substances that do this, which makes it an important part of the diet of busy people.
Dark chocolate: For your body to stay healthy and fit, you need to get a wide range of antioxidants in your diet. Dark chocolate scores highly on the oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC) scale. For example, it contains five and a half times the antioxidants in blueberries, per 100g. The bioactive compounds tyramine and phenylethylamine found in chocolate can provide you with an energy boost throughout the day. Dark chocolate, which has 70 per cent cocoa, contains fewer calories and more antioxidants than milk chocolate so go for this.
This article was first published in the March issue of Parents Magazine