Thursday, May 14, 2009

10 ways to get more energy from food

You can boost your energy levels by making small changes to the foods you eat. Here's how ...1. Eat beans and breadSlow-releasing carbohydrates such as chickpeas, kidney beans, baked beans, nuts and grainy bread will keep your energy levels more stable than sugars and white flour, which cause your blood glucose to fluctuate.2. Have caffeine with lunchA cup of coffee in the middle of the day can help offset the natural dip in energy levels you get in the afternoon. But more than two or three caffeinated drinks a day may actually sap your energy by disrupting blood sugar.3. Increase your iron levelsTiredness can often indicate iron deficiency anaemia. A mild iron deficiency is rectified by eating more iron-rich foods such as red meat, liver, pulses and green vegetables. But if you have a more severe iron depletion, which will only show itself through blood tests, you'll need strong iron tablets that are prescribed by your GP.4. Eat enough caloriesCutting down by more than 500 calories a day can reduce the nutritional quality of your diet and affect your energy levels. If you're dieting, eat plenty of fruits, vegetables and unprocessed foods and don't eat less than 1,400 calories day.5. Try more seedsSeeds are great energisers. Two teaspoons of sesame-rich tahini paste provide nearly half the recommended daily allowance of magnesium. Magnesium is crucial for energy release in cells. It will also give you one quarter of your allowance of iron.6. Eat more pastaThe complex carbohydrates in pasta provide slow-release energy that keeps your blood sugar levels on an even keel. Pasta stimulates the release of your brain's natural calming chemicals too so it's an ideal lunchtime meal if you're faced with an afternoon of filing and organising.7. Get more zincIf you're really flagging and lethargic you may be short of zinc. This fantastic trace mineral really helps boost your energy levels. Find it in food such as shellfish, red meat and poultry. A vegetarian diet often contains less zinc than a meat-based one, so it's important for vegetarians to include plenty of dairy products, beans, lentils, yeast and nuts, as these are also good sources of zinc.8. Eat a proper breakfastNever skip breakfast. It's the most important meal of the day because it sets up your energy levels. By skipping breakfast you'll not only deprive your body of calories just when it needs them the most, you'll also slump later. Carbs are fine for breakfast, but you need to ideally balance them with protein for enduring energy. Try scrambled eggs on wholegrain toast with baked beans for optimum slow-release energy.9. Get plenty of vitamin CAround one in three women aren't getting enough vitamin C and experts now believe there's a link between vitamin C intake and energy levels.Vitamin C plays a vital role in your body's production of a molecule that helps burn fat for energy. You should aim to get around 200 to 300mg a day, but you don't have to resort to taking an expensive supplement. Drink just one 8oz glass of fresh orange juice every day and you'll boost vitamin C levels considerably. Other great sources of vitamin C are kiwi fruit, broccoli and strawberries.10. Make a banana smoothieA fruit smoothie made with a banana is a brilliant way to give yourself a quick, delicious energy boost. Bananas rev you up as quickly as a sugary snack, but with the bonus of giving you extra fibre, vitamins and minerals too. To make your extra extra nutritious smoothie you will need one cup of low fat milk, a small banana, a spoonful of wheat germ, crushed ice and a spoonful of honey.Don't forget: Drink at least eight cups of water every single day, otherwise you'll become dehydrated, and you'll ruin all your other good work.

Louise O'ConnellGood to KnowGood to Know features lots of recipes and nutritional advice including healthy food recipes, easy recipes, curry recipes and much, much more.

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