Those “lazy hazy crazy” days of summer are over.
It’s officially Fall. Some of you have dropped your kids off at college for the first time, others are gearing up for hectic schedules as school begins for the kids still at home. Perhaps you have a job that slows down considerably or even stops for the summer. Whatever your lifestyle, it is probably ramping up as you are reading this.
Does the thought of that make you want to lie down and take a nap?
We know you’re not alone and we also know that nap is not going to happen. The truth is you’ll be needing a lot of energy to fuel your day with all the different hats you wear and jobs you perform.
Supermarket shelves are filled with purported energy drinks, bars and snack packs. There’s a Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts on every corner. We have a plethora of fake solutions on the market.
How’s that working for you?
I confess that I love my coffee, but it has never been the fuel that keeps my motor humming all day long. The only ingestible remedy for sustained energy are good clean whole foods that your body recognizes and knows exactly how to use.
Read on for a list of energy-boosters. No magic potions, pricey supplements or foods you’ve never seen before. I guarantee you have at least one item from each category (and then some) in your kitchen right now.
These are the top 5 fatigue fighting foods (that’s a mouthful!) I’m even going to provide simple ways to build a better breakfast lunch or dinner with them.
Dark Leafy Greens – Top the List!
These lovely phytonutrient dense foods (which translate into a multitude of health benefits) are sadly lacking in most American diets. Popeye was absolutely right – there’s power in a pot of spinach (or kale, collards, chard, etc.).
Digestion is a bodily function that uses a tremendous amount of energy. When we give our bodies foods that are easy on the GI tract, we save a lot of steam and have extra fuel for driving those car pools, meeting deadlines at work, getting to the gym, preparing meals… you know the drill.
You can eat them at every meal and in between.
Breakfast – Add a handful of greens to your morning shake or mix them in your scrambled eggs.
Lunch – Add them to boxed or canned soups when you are heating them up for lunch. Make sure to use kale, spinach, arugala, mesculin mixes for your salads and leave the iceberg lettuce in the produce aisle.
Dinner – Quickly sauté any greens in 1 tbs. olive oil, with one clove garlic. Add a little veggie or chicken broth and a squeeze of lemon. Yummy side dish for any meal.
Good Quality Protein – long lasting fuel.
Amino acids are the building blocks for our cells and protein is made of amino acids. Quality sources of protein will keep your energy levels at high speeds for hours at a time. Eggs (from humanely raised poultry), wild caught fish, grass fed beef, lamb and pork, quality poultry, beans, nuts, seeds. By the way, there isn’t a food in that group that doesn’t blend well with dark leafy greens.
Breakfast – Add a good plant based protein powder to your greens with some non-dairy milk and nut butter.
Lunch – Make sure pair sliced chicken and hard boiled eggs with salad greens.
Dinner – Top your sautéed greens (above) with chopped nuts or toasted seeds. Works with any animal or plant protein.
Whole Grains (the real stuff pure and simple)
Quality whole grains (the non-gluten variety) like quinoa, millet, brown rice, teff, buckwheat, gluten free oats are good sources of Vitamins B1 and B2. B1is essential for helping the body convert carbohydrates into energy. B2 and Niacin (found in whole grains as well) help us use the energy obtained from our food more effectively.
Of course, those dark leafy greens are a great mix with whole grains.
Breakfast – Mix cooked quinoa with a little chopped spinach, diced yams and cinnamon for a power breakfast.
Lunch – Add brown rice, buckwheat or millet to your soups or salad for lunch.
Dinner – Add brown rice + your favorite herbs and seasoning to beans (your choice) and serve over sautéed or wilted greens for a fabulous dinner.
Fresh Fruit – Nature’s candy to satisfy that sweet tooth naturally!
Who needs superfoods from foreign lands when we have blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, gooseberries, peaches, plums (and on and on) growing like mad right here in the greater New York area.
You’ll see a lot of products with Acai in your market – just one of the new superfoods on the block. True – it’s loaded with antioxidants but it comes from the rain forests of the Amazon and is rather pricey to buy frozen. Blueberries and other richly colored fruits are also loaded with anti-oxidants to fight inflammation and give us the nutrients our bodies need for peak performance without the price tag.
Breakfast – Load up your oatmeal with blueberries, toasted pumpkin seeds, cinnamon and a drop of honey for a sweeter healthy breakfast.
Lunch – Add apple slices to your leafy green salads at lunchtime
Dinner – How about a snazzy fruit salsa to adorn a grilled salmon, sautéed swiss chard and quinoa dinner?
Water – The only pure energy drink on supermarket shelves!
It is impossible to blog about energy foods without talking about H20. It is the best energy drink on the planet. Move over Gatorade, 5 hour Energy and all the rest of those “quick fix” products we think we need. Not a one of those will give your body what it needs to be at its best. As a matter of fact, they will seriously interfere with it.
Nothing will zap your energy faster than being dehydrated and nothing will perk you up faster than replenishing with a big glass of pure water.
How much? Experts say that you should divide your body weight in half and that in the number of ounces of water you need per day. However, if you drink 8 glasses (8 ounces each) a day, you will be doing very well.
One more note on water – skip the “designer” flavored waters that are touted to replace your electrolytes and keep you in ultimate performance condition. Water is naturally gluten free, vegan, kosher, sugar free, carb free – etc. Drink a big glass and then use my tips to build meals and snacks to power you through the day.
Of course, if you’re looking for step by step recipes that guaranteed to boost your pep and make you smile, click here www.backtobasicwellness.com and choose your favorites!