6 Functional Foods To Boost Your Energy
Whether you are heading to a SoulCycle class or out to an indulgent sushi dinner, maintaining optimal energy levels is essential to function. Fueling the body with high-quality nutrients will not only provide you with short-term energy, but will also contribute to minimizing cellular breakdown and longevity. The natural process of aging can make regulating these already complex systems even more of a challenge. When deciding which foods to consume throughout the day, it is important to consider how those nutrients will be broken down and ultimately metabolized and utilized for energy. Eating foods high in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants will all contribute to beating the afternoon slump and contribute to sustaining energy levels. Check out the five foods below for a nutrient-dense meal that will be sure to keep your energy flowing and prevent hanger in between meals and in midday meetings.
Start the morning right with a bowl of steel-cut oats to jumpstart your metabolism and create lasting energy for the day. Oats are full of vitamins and antioxidants including magnesium which helps to calm nerves, calcium which can lower stress, and B vitamins to encourage energy production. Not to mention, oats are packed with soluble fiber which helps fill you up and keep your blood sugar on track. A great way to save time in your morning routine is by making overnight oats. Add oats, almond milk, 1 tbsp of almond butter and berries in a mason jar and refrigerate overnight for an easy, nutrient dense breakfast that you can grab on the go. Maximize your oatmeal by adding a scoop of plant based or grass-fed whey based protein powder, 1 tbsp of peanut butter or chia seeds. Gluten free? No need to omit oats, as you can find certified gluten free oats easily online or in your grocery store.
Berries are considered a functional food, as they are high in antioxidants, fiber, vitamin c, potassium and folate. In addition, they are nature’s candy, sweet and extremely versatile. When shopping, choose berries that are in season or buy organic freshly frozen berries to easily add to breakfast smoothies and post workout shakes. The natural sugars in berries also make them a perfect dessert. If you’re ever craving ice cream, try adding mixed berries with a low sugar naturally sweetened yogurt and freezing for 15 minutes for a lower sugar, lower fat, energy dense treat.
Salmon may be best known for being a quality protein source with a high level of Omega-3 fatty acids, which can lower overall risk of heart disease, reduce joint pain and improve brain development and function. However, salmon is also a good source of B Vitamins including vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B12, vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), and niacin. These work together to support your body’s metabolic rate, produce energy, and aid in fighting disease and infection. Salmon also contains tryptophan, a precursor to serotonin, which helps to regulate your mood. The presence of vitamin D also aids in boosting energy levels as it is linked to the efficiency of mitochondria, the “power stations” within your body’s cells. Bake salmon with lemon garlic pesto sauce and serve over zucchini noodles for a shockingly delicious dinner. Trade in your tuna for a salmon salad, and mix with avocado instead of mayonnaise, adding celery, capers and even grapes if desired.
Quinoa is a superfood powerhouse. In addition to being gluten free, it is a complete protein and provides a good source of vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) and vitamin B1 (thiamin). Additionally, it is an excellent source of magnesium, zinc, iron, and folate. Quinoa is an easy-to-make base for any meal that will contribute to maintaining high levels of energy throughout the day. Quinoa, a super alternative to rise, is useful as a recovery food for athletes, providing quality macronutrients and keep you balanced throughout the day by controlling blood sugar levels. Eating whole grains such as quinoa helps to increase the body’s sensitivity to insulin, which maintains the steady release of fuel, preventing spikes and drops in blood sugar levels. There are countless varieties of quinoa and all are delicious when added to stir fries, salads, or enjoyed on their own. Quinoa and spinach salad with strawberries, walnuts, and avocado is one idea for a nutrient dense, energy boosting meal! Quinoa can be a gluten free alternative to oatmeal as well.
Beets are unique because they are edible from the root all the way up to to the leafy greens. Beets are naturally high in sodium nitrates, which are converted to sodium nitrites (nitric oxide) in the body. Nitric oxide expands the walls of blood cells, giving them the opportunity to absorb more oxygen and produce more energy. Beets are high in slow-releasing sugar, which helps balance energy levels, while still being low in calories. Additionally, studies have shown that the antioxidant and bioactive compounds in beetroots can the reduce inflammation, oxidative stress and reduce risk for chronic disease. Beet shots are commonly used with both professional and collegiate athletes. Try roasting beets and adding them to salads, quinoa, or blending into a bright beet hummus for a midday snack. You can also try shots of beet juice or add to smoothies and fresh juices.
Consuming healthy fats in the form of nuts is an excellent source of energy. Cashews, almonds and walnuts can help lower cholesterol, and blood pressure while also contributing to regulating mood and metabolism. Nuts are an easy snack to have on hand for when you feel a crash coming on or as a quick pre/post workout energy boost. Nut butters are also an excellent source of healthy fats and protein However, it is important to keep in mind the high-caloric content of nuts and to avoid added sugars to prevent overdoing it with the almond butter. Nuts such as macadamia nuts and almonds are lower in carbohydrate than their friends the peanuts and cashews, making them optimal choices on both the Whole 30 and Ketogenic diets.
About Stacy Goldberg, MPH, RN, BSN
CEO and Founder, Savorfull
Stacy passionately leads the Savorfull team as it sources outrageously delicious free-from foods for its online platform, which easily connects clients to discover and purchase the latest healthy food products, as well as to nutritional guidance and content. A member of the Quicken Loans Family of Companies, Savorfull also provides innovative nutrition programs for businesses, organizations as well as numerous professional and collegiate sports teams. A graduate of The University of Michigan School of Nursing with a Bachelor’s Degree in the Science of Nursing and a Registered Nurse, Stacy also holds a Master’s Degree in Public Health, specializing in Human Nutrition from The University of Michigan School of Public Health. Stacy is a nationally recognized nutrition consultant and has worked with many teams in the National Basketball Association, including the Cleveland Cavaliers and Detroit Pistons ( Team Nutritionist). Stacy has been named the Official Health and Wellness Consultant/Nutritionist for the NBA Coaches Association. She is also a contributing writer and television personality. Stacy has been featured in publications including Sports Illustrated, Well & Good, Shape, Self, Fox News Magazine among others.
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