8 Foods to Boost Your Energy
By BRENDAN BRAZIER
Do you find yourself reaching for just one more cup of coffee to get through the school or workday? Are you tired of being tired?
Instead of relying on stimulants like coffee or sugar for energy, thrive by eating more foods that give you energy through nourishment. I eat these eight foods daily to provide consistent energy throughout the day.
1. Hemp Seeds
Hemp is a superfood by any definition. A complete protein, rich in fiber and omega-3s, hemp is a great low-glycemic addition to any diet. The glycemic index (GI) is a measurement of how fast the carbohydrates in food are broken down into glucose and how much it will affect your blood sugar.
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Fiber, fat and protein all lower the GI of a food, which is why hemp seeds (along with nuts, seeds, whole grains and legumes) are low-glycemic. Look for cold-pressed hemp seed oil for salad dressing, hemp protein for smoothies and hemp seeds to toss onto salads and smoothies.
This fluffy pseudograin is 20-percent protein, making it a balanced source of carbohydrates. It's gluten-free and rich in B vitamins, which help convert carbohydrates into energy in your body. Even if you feel like you're too busy to make homemade meals, quinoa is a fast food that cooks in less than 15 minutes.
3. Soaked Almonds
Raw almonds are nutrient dense, and soaking them unlocks higher nutrition potential. Soaking increases vitamin levels and removes the enzyme inhibitors that slow down digestion. I soak my almonds in water overnight (at least eight hours) and then dehydrate them.
4. Coconut Oil
Virgin organic coconut oil is one of my favorite fats to consume. Coconut oil is made of medium chain triglycerides (MCTs), which are digested in the body like a carbohydrate; effortlessly converted by the liver into energy. I use coconut oil when cooking or combine it with dates for mid-workout fuel.
5. All Dark, Leafy Greens
Kale, Swiss chard, collard greens, mustard greens, spinach and more are an energizing addition to your meals. All dark, leafy greens are high in nutrients, rich sources of chlorophyll and low in calories. I make salads out of greens several times a day and always start my morning with a plant-based smoothie that includes at least one cup of greens.
6. Fresh Fruit
Although most fruit is high-glycemic when compared with a low-glycemic food (like nuts or seeds), they can keep your energy levels consistent. Berries are the lowest-glycemic fruits and can be eaten alone without a negative effect on your energy.
7. Green Tea
Caffeine from green tea feels steadier and less jittery than the spike and crash with caffeine from coffee. This is likely because green tea contains L-theanine, an amino acid found in tea that helps promote relaxation.
8. Yerba Maté
Yerba maté is more popular than coffee in Argentina. This caffeinated tea is rich in antioxidants, phytonutrients and electrolytes. Many people (myself included) find that it provides a less nervous-feeling energy than coffee.
I drink yerba maté hot or cold before my workout. I formulated Vega Sport Pre-Workout Energizer with a combination of green tea and yerba maté (as well as low- and high-glycemic carbohydrates) for an energizing pre-workout drink that won't make you crash 30 minutes into your regimen.
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By eating these eight foods regularly, you'll find your energy levels are higher and more balanced. If you need an extra burst of energy before your workout, use my go-to pre-workout recipe:
Acai Berry Pre-Workout Energizer
(For full nutritional information, here is a link to the recipe we created in MyPlate.)
Prep Time: 5 minutes
* 4 fresh or frozen strawberries
* 1/3 cup chopped pineapple
* 1/4 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
* 1 scoop acai berry Vega Sport Pre-Workout Energizer
* 1/2 cup coconut water
* 1/2 cup acai berry juice
* 2 cups ice
In a blender, combine all the ingredients except the ice. Add ice to about one inch above the liquid line. Blend on high speed until smooth.
Readers -- Do you depend on coffee or sugary treats to boost your energy? Have you tried any of the foods mentioned above? How do you get yourself energized when you're feeling tired during the day?
Brendan Brazier is a former professional Ironman triathlete, a two-time Canadian 50km Ultra Marathon Champion, the creator of an award-winning line of whole-food nutritional products called VEGA, and the best-selling author of the Thrive book series. He is also the developer of the acclaimed ZoN Thrive Fitness program and the creator of Thrive Foods Direct national meal-delivery service. He also recently launched Thrive Forward, an online video series on wellness.
Recognized as the world's foremost authorities on plant-based performance nutrition, Brendan works with NFL, MLB, NHL, UFC, PGA, Tour De France and Olympic athletes and is a guest lecturer at Cornell University, where he presents an eCornell module entitled "The Plant-Based Diet and Elite Athleticism."