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Health and Fitness News

Get Your Oomph Back

Feeling dragged out? Eat more of these kinds of foods for long-lasting energy.

One calorie is a single unit of energy. So all foods provide your body with energy to some degree. This may make you think that the more calories you eat, the more energy you will have. However, you know that’s not right. Especially when you eat plenty of calories and still feel so zapped and drained. The trick is to eat the right kind of calories. Your body processes carbohydrates, proteins, and fats differently. Some are converted quickly to energy and some take longer. Long-lasting energy comes from combining the right foods and eating them at the right times.

For energy that sticks around, read on to learn the rules of healthy eating.

Understand Macronutrients

Carbohydrates are your body’s main source of energy. Simple carbs lead to a spike in blood sugar that leaves you feeling sluggish as your blood sugar level plummets soon after eating. Complex carbs are higher in fiber and take longer to digest, so they keep your blood sugar at a more even level for prolonged energy.
Protein is a second macronutrient needed for cell production and growth. Foods rich in protein take longer to digest. When eaten in addition to complex carbs, they slow the absorption of food even more to provide prolonged energy.

Fats are the body’s third source of energy. They’re also filling because they take longer to digest. But take heed! While some amount of fat is needed for health, eating too much of it can make you feel sluggish.

Consider Timing

If only there was a super food you could eat for breakfast that would provide 12-hour energy and fullness. Since there’s not, it’s important to eat a small meal every three to four hours. Going too long between meals leads to a drop in blood sugar and a drop in energy. Overeating also makes your blood sugar levels fluctuate.

To keep your energy levels humming all day, plan to eat a healthy breakfast, lunch, and dinner, with a few small snacks in between.

Use the Best Combos

It’s easy to reach for fast food, candy bars, chips, or sodas for quick energy. Simple carb, high-calorie foods like these will give you a quick boost in energy but will soon leave you feeling hungry and tired again. Long-lasting energy comes from meals and snacks that contain a combination of lean proteins, complex carbs, and healthy fats.

Your best bets for lean protein include foods like grilled or baked fish, chicken, turkey, pork, or lean cuts of beef, eggs, and low-fat dairy products. Great sources of complex carbs are fruits; beans; vegetables; nuts; and whole-grain breads, pastas, cereals, and rice. Foods that contain healthy fats for energy are avocados, olive oil, nuts, seeds, cheese, dark chocolate, and eggs.

From this list, you can put together healthy, energizing meals and snacks. Fill up on breakfasts such as oatmeal and fruit, eggs and whole-grain toast, or a fruit and yogurt smoothie. For a satisfying lunch, try a salad topped with grilled chicken, a turkey and veggie wrap, or a peanut butter sandwich on whole-grain bread. Dinner options include baked fish, grilled chicken, or pork chops with vegetables. Need simple snack ideas? Try a handful of trail mix, a piece of fruit and nuts, cheese and whole-grain crackers, veggies dipped in hummus, or air-popped popcorn.