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T&T Heart Foundation

For some of us, coming out of the holiday season and into the new year can be a drag. Establishing your New Year resolutions, you may have picked up a new exercise routine that has left you feeling drained. If you’re looking for a boost in energy, you may instinctively reach for something sugary, but that may not be the best solution. As such, you may be wondering which foods may be the best help to maintain your alertness and focus throughout the day.

But doesn’t all food boost energy?

Yes, all foods give you energy in the form of calories. However, not all foods affect your energy levels the same way. Sugary drinks, candy, and pastries put too much fuel into your blood too quickly. Foods like these are usually described as simple carbs. Their fast digestion rate means that they cause a rapid rise in your blood sugar and energy levels but is typically followed by a crash, leaving you tired and hungry again.

What about caffeine?

Mention energy boost and the most common response may be a cup of coffee, it’s where many of us get our morning caffeine jolt. Caffeine is the most widely consumed stimulant in the world and is primarily sought after to help combat fatigue and drowsiness. Nevertheless, be careful about the type of caffeinated products you choose as energy drinks and caffeinated sodas tend to be high in added sugars, which can increase the risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.

So, what are some more satisfying options?

1. Oatmeal

A bowl of cooked oatmeal breaks down to become energy that’s slowly absorbed by your body. It’s a complex carbohydrate. That means it’s full of fiber and nutrients. Oatmeal is slower to digest and supplies energy evenly, instead of all at once. Choosing the plain versions of instant packets of oatmeal, steel-cut oats, or old-fashioned oats is best as they aren’t filled with extra sugar.

2. Eggs

A single egg has just around 70 calories (varies depending on the size and how it is prepared), and yet is a rich source of protein. That provides fuel that gets released slowly. It also has more nutrients per calorie than most other foods, which helps it satisfy hunger. As a result, you’re more likely to skip that mid-morning sweet treat in the office that will spike your blood sugar and crash your energy.

3. Yogurt

If you’re looking for a quick boost before a workout, yogurt is an easy grab-and-go snack. Yogurt contains lactose, a milk sugar, which is easily used for energy. It also has a good amount of protein, which helps slow down the absorption of that lactose, making the energy boost last longer.

What about water?

You shouldn’t forget about hydration, exercise and sleep, as these are also key to increasing your energy levels.

OK, so it’s not a food, but drinking water is essential for optimal functioning of the body. Although water doesn’t provide actual energy in the form of calories, hydrating properly during the day helps facilitate the energetic processes in the body, which is an energy boost in itself and helps fight feelings of fatigue. Not drinking enough water can lead to dehydration which may result in difficulty concentrating, headaches, irritability, lethargy, and sleepiness. Sip on water throughout the day, and try to swap out sodas, coffee, and other drinks for a glass of water.

While all foods provide energy, eating a wholesome diet and having healthy snacks on hand is a great way to stay energised and productive. In addition, be sure to accompany a well-balanced diet with enough exercise, hydration, and ample sleep to improve your energy levels and reduce fatigue.