Carbs and Fiber and Caffeine, Oh My!

Find Out What These Food Sources Can Do To Boost Your Energy And Health
Are you tired, run down, listless? Do you poop out at parties? No, you don’t need Vitameatavegamin. What you need is a healthy snack that provides a natural energy boost.

Scott & White Director of Wellness, Lisa Reeve, said there are several great edible sources of energy that will help give you a lift when you’re feeling sluggish.

Complex Carbohydrates

“Foods that are a good source of complex carbohydrates, like fresh fruits, whole grains and brown rice, are great for providing energy,” Ms. Reeve said. “They break down slowly in the body, so you have a slow, sustained source of energy.”

Carbohydrates in general are good at providing an immediate boost, but simple carbohydrates like sugary sodas and candy can only provide a short burst of energy.

“What happens with those is that they’re very simple, so they break down quickly,” she said. “So, it gives you a spike in your glucose level in your blood and then a lot of times you feel that crash right after that.”

From the time that you put a carbohydrate in your mouth, it’s already beginning to absorb the carbs for energy, Ms. Reeve said. And not only are they providing the boost you need to keep going, but the carbs are also giving your brain the fuel it needs to operate efficiently.

“Your brain only uses carbohydrates as an energy source,” she said. “That’s why going on a low-carb diet or a no carb diet can be a problem because you are not getting the energy you need to think and use your brain.”

To help give your body a carbohydrate boost, try eating a piece of whole grain bread or whole wheat crackers with some peanut butter. Ms. Reeve said this is a great idea for breakfast. It will help you start the day out full and energized.

Fiber

Fruits like apples and oranges, which are also complex carbohydrates, are also a great source of fiber, which helps slow digestion and helps stabilize the energy supply.

“Getting enough fiber in your diet every day is really important,” Ms. Reeve said. “It can actually help you feel fuller so you don’t overeat.”

Other fruits and veggies high in fiber are raspberries, which have eight grams of fiber and cooked peas that have 8.8 grams of fiber.

These natural boosters can help women get to the recommended 21 to 25 grams of daily fiber and men to the recommended 30 to 38 grams.

Hydrating

Not only are raw fruits helpful in sustaining energy throughout the day, they can also be used to keep you hydrated.

“If you’re dehydrated, you can feel really tired or fatigued,” she said. “If you feel fatigued, then you feel like you don’t have any energy.”

Not getting enough water throughout the day can also make you think you are hungry, when you are simply thirsty. You could be ingesting more calories than necessary because you mistake your dehydration for hunger.

Doctors recommend that adults drink at least eight to nine cups of water a day. This helps to replenish the fluids lost through breathing, perspiration, urine and bowel movements.

Nuts

Another good source of energy comes from nuts.

“Nuts are really good for you because they have a lot of protein,” she said. “And some nuts like almonds and cashews also have magnesium, which is an important mineral that helps your body convert sugar to energy.”

Walnuts could be a good nut to start with because they have been shown to have antioxidants and contain omega-3 essential fatty acids which are said to help brain function.

However, even though nuts are a good source of healthy fat, you can’t eat all of the nuts you want, Ms. Reeve said. Everything has to be in moderation.

Caffeine

Moderation is the key when it comes to the next anti-sluggish food source—caffeine.

“A little caffeine in the day is okay, and it will provide energy, whether it’s green tea or a cup of coffee,” she said.

But energy drinks, bars and gels, which often contain large amounts of caffeine, are not meant for someone just looking to get through a blah day at the office.

“Those should only be used if you are undergoing moderate to intense exercise for a prolonged period of time,” Ms. Reeve said. “Otherwise, it’s really not necessary if you’re just sitting at the computer. You might be taking in more calories than you need.”

If caffeine is your go-to source of energy, 300 mg is a safe daily amount. There is 45-100 mg in 2 ounces of a double espresso, 60-120 mg in an eight ounce cup of coffee and 20 mg in eight ounces of green tea.

Small Meals Throughout The Day

While each of the foods above can provide energy on their own, the director of wellness said the best way to have energy all day long is to eat small meals throughout the day.

“If you fuel your body with a lot of little meals all day, you’re constantly feeding your body,” she said. “Start off with a healthy breakfast and have five smaller meals that include two snacks during the day. That can help your body increase its metabolism and become more efficient.”

Here is a sample of daily meals and snacks:

Breakfast
  • Whole grain cereal (without added sugar) such as Cheerios or Special K, or a serving of oatmeal with skim milk
  • Banana
  • Cup of coffee (skim milk and Splenda)
Morning Snack
  • Piece of fruit with low-fat yogurt
Lunch
  • Grilled chicken or turkey breast (extra lean, boneless, skinless, 3 oz serving)
  • Spinach or romaine lettuce salad with tomatoes, 1 oz dried cranberries, 1 oz cashews and 1oz of reduced fat feta cheese
  • One serving of fat free or low fat vinaigrette dressing
  • Piece of fruit
Afternoon Snack
  • Mixed fresh fruit cup such as strawberries, apples, oranges and kiwis
Dinner
  • 3-4oz grilled salmon
  • One serving of brown rice
  • Grilled asparagus
  • Vegetable medley (fresh or frozen) without sauces
  • Whole wheat roll
Dessert
  • 1 oz dark chocolate

For more information on healthy eating, Ms. Reeve suggests going to livestrong.com.

Do you have a fool-proof method of upping your energy during the day? Share your tips and experiences.

About the author

Jessa McClure
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Jessa McClure holds a degree in journalism and mass communication from the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor in Belton, TX, where she is currently an adviser for student publications. She has been a writer in the health care field since 2009.

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Carbs and Fiber and Caffeine, Oh My!