As the days are getting chillier and shorter, it is normal to feel a sense of fatigue transitioning from Summer to Fall to Winter all in *what seemed like* a very short period of time. Put Quarantine fatigue on top of that and it can seem exhausting to go about your everyday activities.
Food is fuel, and what you put into your body can greatly impact your energy levels. There are many different foods that can be used to combat fatigue, from fish to chocolate. Some main ingredients found in foods that are proven to provide boosted energy are iron, fiber, and carbohydrates, but there are many ingredients within food that play a large part in your energy levels and focus.
Here are some of the top foods our team uses for energy:
The saying goes “An apple a day keeps the doctor away”, but bananas should really be in apple’s place. Bananas are not only a simple and easy on-the-go snack, but it also contains many vitamins that can aid in digestion, maintaining healthy blood pressure and much more. Bananas have twice as many carbohydrates, five times as much Vitamin A and iron, and three times as much phosphorus as apples. Bananas are also rich in potassium, fiber and natural sugars. Why does this matter? All these ingredients directly play a part in energy production in the body. A 2012 study at Appalachian State University found bananas are even a better source of energy than expensive sports drinks.
Spinach (or other Dark Leafy Green)
Some people love em’, most hate em’, but dark leafy greens are the best way to get quick natural energy. Spinach is considered a superfood that helps combat fatigue and increases mental and physical endurance through its high contents of vitamins A, C and K, magnesium, iron and manganese. Tyrosine found in spinach helps improve alertness as well. Not only are you getting a boost of energy adding this on your next sandwich or in your next salad, eating this leafy green veggie may also benefit eye health, reduce stress and blood pressure levels, among other things. So channel your inner “Popeye” and get in your greens!
The base of trail mixes are typically a variety of nuts, including peanuts, almonds, walnuts and cashews. These nuts contain fairly similar nutritional profiles, containing unsaturated fats, omega-3 fatty acids, protein, vitamin E, l-arginine and fiber. These nutrients provide a wide variety of benefits, including reducing the risk of heart attack, cardiovascular disease and inflammation, as well as helping normalize bowel movements, controlling blood sugar and keeping you fuller for longer after eating. Seeds, which are oftentimes also included in trail mix, offer many of the same benefits.
Dried fruit in trail mix may also provide nutritional benefits, but be wary of added sugars such as chocolate chips, M&M’s and other items typically found in some mixes. This already nutrient and calorie-dense food can easily become harmful to the body if overconsumed.
Dark chocolate has the highest cocoa amount of any chocolate type, making it a perfect choice for a mid-day boost. Cocoa is rich with antioxidants that have crazy benefits such as increasing blood flow in the body. This increased blood flow aids in the delivery of oxygen in the brain and body, which can help curb mental fatigue and improve mood. Throw it in a trail mix or set aside a bar at your desk to have on hand when you are feeling a mental lull.
Avocados have been all the rage over the past few years with the rise of Avocado Toast being sold nationally at popular restaurants, among many other ‘cado related items. This nutrient-dense food deserves all the hype it gets, as it provides incredible benefits for the body. Most of the calories from avocados comes from good fat (omega-3 fatty acids) These healthy fats keep you full and slows the breakdown of carbohydrates, which helps to keep sugar levels in the blood stable. This heart-healthy food is fantastic for decreasing fatigue as folate in avocados helps to prevent the build-up of homocysteine, an amino acid in your blood that can impair circulation and delivery of nutrients to the brain. With that said, let’s keep the avocado toast trend going!
Drinks for Energy and Focus
Green Tea and Matcha Tea are naturally caffeinated, but not as much as coffee, which helps you get the energy boost without feeling buzzed or anxious. Matcha Tea and Green Tea both come from the Camellia sinensis plant, but Matcha is made differently to create a fine green powder out of the leaves. One of the great benefits from both teas are the antioxidants they contain that have been proven to improve mental alertness, boost metabolism, and even increase the amount of dopamine sent to your brain.
This one should be a no-brainer. Water is proven to increase energy levels, among the many other benefits to the body. Heck, it makes up 60% of the human body. Dehydration leads to fatigue because it impacts the flow of oxygen to the brain, making your heart have to work harder to pump oxygen to all your bodily organs, making you more tired and less alert. Hydration is truly key, everyday and all day. Invest in a reusable water bottle and take it with you everywhere!
Other Quick Tips
- Have a high variety of different foods: Help fuel all the different organs and systems within your body.
- Eat seasonally: Help keep toxins from collecting in your body.
- Break a Sweat: Movement always can provide a quick energy and endorphin boost.
- Avoid High Sugar Foods: This will keeping you from energy crashes throughout the day.
- Avoid too much caffeine : Too much caffeine actually depletes energy levels in the long term.
Campus Cooks hopes everyone stays healthy, happy and energized as we finish the last few months of 2020 strong!