While you eat to lend your body energy, you feel fatigued post a meal—a paradox, perhaps? Well, you're probably consuming the wrong type of food. One often feels sleepy and sluggish after having a heavy meal because your body is using up the energy to digest the food rather than powering it up. Apart from the quantity of food consumed, the quality of your meal has a massive impact on your energy levels as well.
Plus, amidst the ongoing pandemic that has welcomed novel physical and emotional challenges in our lives, we tend to feel more worn out. "The sedentary lifestyle that we lead today hasn't helped our health. Research indicates that a range of health concerns, including back pain, joint aches, and fatigue, have affected several people over the past year," inform Shikha Dwivedi and Subiya Baiganpalli, Clinical Nutrition Consultants and Dietetics, OZiva.
To maximise your energy and productivity levels, you must cautiously pick the items you add to your plate. Below, a few nutrition experts shortlist 10 such foods that can help bring up your vitality—take note.
Ingredients including chickpeas, sesame seed paste (tahini), oil, and lemon are used to prepare hummus, a middle-eastern dip. Hummus offers a great source of energy as a result of these powerhouse nutrients. "The chickpeas present in hummus are high in complex carbohydrates and fibre, which your body can utilise for sustained energy. Besides, it contains beneficial lipids that come from sesame seed paste and oil. These substances help prevent blood sugar spikes by decreasing the absorption of carbohydrates in the body. You could consume hummus with veggies, or as a spread on sandwiches and salads," says Dr Shikha Mahajan, Holistic Nutritionist and Founder, Diet Podium.
Homemade Trail Mix
A homemade trail mix is the perfect on-the-go snack that can double up as an energy booster. "Make sure that you balance out the carbohydrates, protein, and fats in your mix. Pick from dried fruits including cherries, apricots, dates, raisins, and dark chocolate chips and your choice of nuts. If you prefer a savoury mix, opt for ragi or any other whole grain puff, pumpkin or sunflower seeds, flaxseeds, with a dash of rock salt and black pepper," suggest Shikha and Subiya.
If you're feeling drained out, blame the lack of iron in your body to be a probable cause. "An insufficient amount of iron means a slower oxygen supply to the brain cells, which often results in fatigue. To fix this problem, adding leafy vegetables to your diet is a must," they add. Spinach happens to be a great source of nutrients and can be consumed in a solid or liquid form. If you're not a fan of spinach, opt for superfood green powders that include spinach and other veggies, and can be added to smoothies. You could also have plant-based iron supplements to make up for the lack of iron in your diet.
Goji Berries and Beets
Goji berries are high in antioxidants, fibre, vitamins, and minerals. They also aid in the slowing of digestion and the release of energy. Goji berries can be blended into yoghurt, smoothies, baked goods, and even sauces. Alternatively, you could consume them raw. "Beetroot also possesses a high antioxidant content and stimulates blood
flow. Nitrates, which are molecules found in a high concentration in beets, aid in the generation of nitric oxide and improve blood flow, allowing for more oxygen delivery to tissues. They are high in carbohydrates, fibre, and sugar, which provide long-lasting energy," explains Dr Mahajan.
Quinoa and Oats
Quinoa lends a power-packed combination of protein and carbohydrates, making it a great energy source. It also offers minerals such as magnesium, manganese, and folate, which are essential in improving cellular functions and boosting your overall energy. "If you're not a quinoa fan, you can opt for oats, which are a source of complex carbohydrates. They're not only rich in vitamins and minerals but help with the production of energy as well. The B vitamins, iron, and manganese present in oatmeal make it the perfect food for regulating blood sugar while keeping yourself energised. It also contains beta-glucan, a soluble fibre that forms a thick gel when combined with water. Beta-glucan is also known to have additional benefits such as managing cholesterol levels and supporting heart health," inform Shikha and Subiya.
Apart from the above-mentioned foods, you could include a range of seeds—sunflower seeds, chia seeds, flaxseed—in your meals (soups, salads, cereal, sandwiches). Popcorn is another low-calorie, high-energy snack that contains carbohydrates and fibre, making it a filling, healthy choice. In addition, consider replacing your coffee with matcha tea. Besides having a lower caffeine content, matcha tea possesses a high amount of EGCG (Epigallocatechin Gallate), which is known to boost metabolism, mood, and energy levels.