For many people today, fatigue can set in as early as after the lunch hour. For some folks, even a good night’s rest isn’t enough to bring back their energy. Believe it or not, only 1 in 7 Americans report to waking up feeling refreshed after seven to eight hours of sleep. What’s more concerning is that 45 percent of these adults reported feeling exhausted up to three times a week.
What could be the problem? Why are we tired all the time?
Unless you have been previously diagnosed with a medical condition that contributes to your feelings of exhaustion (i.e. sleep apnea, chronic fatigue, depression, diabetes, etc.), it might be due to your diet. Snacking isn’t bad – but WHAT we snack on will have a significant impact on how we feel afterwards.
Take sugary treats for instance. Eating a donut or ice cream is awesome. But wait 20 minutes and you’ll regret the decision with a sugar crash. You’ll end up feeling more tired than before; maybe even get cranky or lethargic. Definitely NOT the result you were hoping for.
So put down the bag of chips and listen to your body. Often, low energy is a sign that means we’re running low on required vitamins and nutrients. Although coffee is a good pick-me-up, over time, your body will simply develop a resistance to it. So while the occasional cup of Joe is nice, opt instead for these equally delicious foods to boost your energy when days get busy.
Whether you’re going to the gym, prepping for an important sales pitch, or volunteering in the countryside, pack these in your bag for a tasty yet healthy treat anytime, anywhere.
1. Citrus Water
Research has shown that staying hydrated is important to retain sharp cognitive functions throughout the day. After all, our brain is made up of 80 percent water. So whenever you’re feeling tired or out of focus, a few sips should do the trick. Pulling an all-nighter? Keep a glass of water by your desk at all times. Add more benefits to your drink with the power of citrus fruits.
Aside from getting a good dose of vitamin C, you’ll also be getting a fair amount of nutrients like magnesium, potassium, folate, riboflavin, and a variety of phytochemicals. Choose from your favorites: be it lemons, oranges, tangerines, or limes. Drink one in the morning, and keep the rest in your tumbler for a handy beverage anytime you need a quick pick-me-up.
2. Trail Mix
One of the most portable snacks of choice for hikers or campers, trail mix can go two ways: as a healthy, energy-boosting food OR as a calorie-laden treat. That’s why choosing what goes into your trail mix is crucial. Make sure there are four key ingredients: nuts, grains, seeds, and dried fruit. Avoid adding sweets as they just lead to empty calories down the line.
Concentrate instead on nuts like almonds, walnuts, or cashews that are rich in protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and fiber. Just make sure they’re raw or dry roasted for maximum benefits. Include seeds like pumpkin or sunflower, which contain antioxidants and Vitamin E. Dried fruits (i.e. raisins, apples, sour cherries, etc.) on the other hand, have the same vitamins and minerals as in their raw forms. Grains add in carbohydrates to quickly boost your energy.
Read up on healthy trail mixes on the Web, or create your own big batch. Then divide them into small packs or containers, ready to be munched on for the rest of the week.
Aside from being a breakfast staple, you can have eggs any time of the day if you want to increase your energy levels. Carry one or two hard-boiled eggs that you can snack on whenever hunger strikes. What’s more, eggs don’t cause surges in insulin – so no sugar crashes! Plus, this food is rich in protein, folate, and B vitamins, which are vital in energy production.
Best eaten when you need to recover, such as after strenuous workouts. Not into hard-boiled eggs? Try other delicious portable recipes like egg muffins, roll-ups, omelet wraps, or tomato-and-egg cups.
Rich in iron, fiber, and magnesium, this ‘wonder grain’ is an effective fatigue-fighter. While iron keeps us sharp by delivering oxygen to the brain, magnesium relaxes blood vessels, which helps alleviate migraines. Fiber on the other hand, keeps us trim and fit.
Want to stay up late to finish reports? Searching for the perfect post-workout meal? This energy-boosting super food can help you stay chipper no matter how busy you get. Make quinoa porridge with dried fruit and milk for added calcium during the morning rush. Add in wraps for a lunchtime fix. Toss with spices and you can easily turn this humble grain into a pizza or patty perfect for dinner. Or why not make them into muffins for a quick fix on the go?
The preferred snack by athletes everywhere, bananas is nature’s pre-packaged healthy treats on the go. Eat them raw to get energy boosting vitamins such as vitamin B6, manganese, vitamin C, potassium, and fiber. Having one or two before a strenuous activity should help you prevent muscle cramps, while the three different sugars release energy slowly. This ensures you’ll have enough vigor to get through your hectic schedule.
So whether you’ll be camping or you just want to stay focused for a busy day, bananas will make the perfect sweet, creamy treat. Have one or two handy, or turn them into sandwiches or smoothies to take with you anywhere.
Yogurt is a safe snack for those who are watching their weight, or are experiencing certain conditions such as Celiac disease (gluten-free options). Even people suffering from lactose intolerance can consume some variants of yogurt, as the lactose in it has already been broken down. Yogurt is also a very flexible food, which can be eaten either at breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
Loaded with calcium, vitamin B-2, B-12, potassium, and magnesium, this energy boosting snack typically has live probiotics that contribute to a healthy tummy. Store a few in your workplace refrigerator for a convenient treat for when you need to perk up, fast.
7. Leafy Greens
If you’ve been ignoring your arugula, spinach, lettuce, or kale lately, incorporate them once again in your diet – especially these days, when schedules are usually swamped. Leafy greens contains energy boosting vitamins like magnesium and manganese, as well as vital nutrients such folate.
Leafy greens can be consumed in salads, or chucked into a smoothie. If you’re on the go, it takes only a few minutes to prep one up for lunch, or have them ready in your tumbler as a quick energy drink.
Find yourself usually tired, even after a good night’s sleep? Use food to boost your energy levels as well as your mood. Salmon is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which makes it perfect for warding off fatigue, heart disease, depression, and even dementia. If you like making pack lunches, you can get creative with this fool-proof fish. Toss in leafy greens for added alertness.
Whether it’s lunch or dinner, salmon can be your go-to food to perk up your day.
9. Sweet Potato
Today’s hectic and digitally connected lifestyles often cause great stress to any age group. Whether you’re an office worker, an entrepreneur, or a CEO, you will have to deal with multiple tasks that demand much from your body and mind. At the end of the day, you often have little energy left to do other things you enjoy, like hobbies or hanging out with your loved ones.
Want to decrease stress naturally? Take in more magnesium from the food you eat. This nutrient is involved in many biochemical reactions in our body. Aside from helping cells produce energy, it can also aid in suppressing anxiety, depression, and stress. Sweet potatoes have a good amount of magnesium, making it one of the most inexpensive and easily accessible foods to fight off stress.
Instead of reaching for regular fries next time, try sweet potatoes instead!
With copious amounts of vitamin K, manganese, vitamin C, and fiber, it’s no wonder people of all ages love blueberries. Second to strawberries as one of the most popular fruits, these can be consumed raw or frozen as a cold treat. These juicy morsels not only help boost your energy, they can also ward off memory lapses. Their blue pigment, called anthocyanins, are what increases neural signaling in the brain, keeping us focused and alert.
Spending an all-nighter for that report? Keep a stash of blueberries near you for a quick brain and energy fix. You can also turn them into delicious smoothies to store in your tumbler for a nutritious drink anytime of the day.
Caffeine-Free and Bursting with Energy!
Being healthy shouldn’t be complicated. Sometimes, the best foods for us are just right around the corner. If you want to stay fit, healthy, and alert, stocking your pantry with the right options is a MUST. In order to avoid accidentally falling for fast-food options, keeping your own snacks in your bag everyday is a good idea.
The key is awareness. Once you know what makes you tired, cranky, or stressed, you can combat them. So the next time you’re feeling blue or exhausted, don’t just reach for a cup of coffee. Explore healthier alternatives and feel the difference!