Increasing Energy: Discover the Top 5 Natural Energy Foods

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Most of us have a clear understanding that food is the body’s primary energy source.  Once consumed, it is broken down within the digestive system into either fats, proteins, or carbohydrates.

After they have been broken down into their smallest forms, they are then transported throughout the body to take part in their respective metabolic processes. Energy production is their primary role of carbohydrates and fats within the body.

Both are used as our primary sources of energy (it is important to note that protein can also be used for energy in times where carbohydrates and fats are unavailable).

Taking this into consideration, it becomes apparent that all foods give us energy in this specific capacity, but it is still important to note that not all foods are created equal.

As such, some foods have the potential to give us more energy than others.

Building on this concept further, some foods actually have the potential to give us greater quality energy than others.

Additionally, some foods contain specific compounds that can increase energy levels even further, in which we can see reductions in fatigue and increased energy production.

Energy Quality: The Glycemic Index and Insulin

To understand this concept based around energy quality, it is important that we briefly touch on something called the Glycemic Index (also known as the GI).

The GI ranks carbohydrate-rich foods according to their impact on blood glucose levels.

When foods containing carbohydrates are consumed, they are broken down into glucose in the digestive system.

After being broken down, they are transported into the blood, causing an increase in blood sugar.

This increase in blood sugar causes an increased secretion of the hormone insulin.

Insulin’s primary role is to promote the movement of glucose from the blood.

This will, in turn, cause a subsequent drop in blood sugar (returning them to resting levels).  

If a food ranks high on the GI, then it will cause a rapid increase in blood sugar.  This results in a rapid increase in insulin secretion, which as we known results in another rapid decline in blood sugar levels.

This process describes the rapid energy rush we see after eating a sugary meal, which is often followed by an energy crash.

This crash in energy is often associated with feelings of lethargy, mental fuzziness, and fatigue.

It is important to note that those foods generally ranking low on the GI are whole foods (think fruits and vegetables).  Whereas foods that have undergone a large amount of processing typically rank with a high GI (think pasta, bread, and junk foods).

Top 5 Foods for Increasing Energy Naturally

With all that in mind, we will delve into the top 5 foods providing lasting energy without an associated energy crash, while also touching on the specific compounds they contain that further enhance energy production.

These foods are ranked from 1-5 based on their ability to provide energy to the body, their glycemic index, the duration that their energy lasts, and their vitamin and mineral content.

These foods can be easily added into the diet on a daily basis to give your body an easy energy boost.

5. Lentils

Lentils are an excellent energy-boosting food.

They contain high amounts of complex carbohydrates, including massive amounts of fiber.

This fiber actually slows the digestion of all macronutrients, greatly delaying absorption.  As a result, lentils are a food that provides an extremely slow release of energy to the body.

Lentils are also rich in magnesium, which is essential to energy production.

Magnesium is protects cellular health, helps cells absorb nutrients, and plays a role in over 300 metabolic processes.  By helping ensure you have adequate magnesium available, lentils can help boost your healthy energy production.

4. Black Beans

Black beans are high in protein, fiber, and complex carbohydrates, giving them an extremely low in GI.  As such, they are a great source of sustained energy to the body.

Additionally, just like lentils, black beans are also extremely rich in magnesium.

3. Spinach

Spinach itself doesn’t actually contain much energy per gram, but it is extremely rich in the mineral iron.

Iron plays an incredibly important role in energy production — it aids red blood cells in carrying oxygen around the body.

Since oxygen is essential to breaking down both fats and carbohydrates for energy, healthy levels of iron is critical for maintaining normal energy levels.

This explains why the consumption of spinach can often alleviate symptoms of fatigue!

2. Quinoa

Quinoa is a type of whole grain with an extremely low GI index and an extremely high protein content.  This means quinoa provides a slow and gradual release of glucose into the blood, greatly limiting insulin secretion and preventing “sugar crashes”.

As a bonus, quinoa is also extremely rich in the minerals phosphorous and manganese.

Both of these compounds are essential for producing nerve impulses, which are extremely important for feeling alert and regulating your metabolism.

This means that by increasing your levels of phosphorus and manganese, quinoa may be able to increase your productivity and reduce any feelings of fatigue.

1. Eggs

Eggs are a fantastic food that not only contain an abundance of healthy fats but are also very high in protein.  Both of these factors alone can provide a sustained release of energy, (not to mention promote the repair and development of muscle and connective tissues).

Eggs are also extremely rich in the B group vitamins, thiamin, riboflavin, folate, vitamin B12, and vitamin B6.

Each of these compounds play an important role in the body’s energy production processes, where they facilitate the breakdown of fats and carbohydrates for energy.

As such, eggs have the capacity to boost energy production, further increasing energy levels.

Take Home Message

While in a physical sense, all foods provide us with energy, it quickly becomes apparent that some foods provide more and higher quality energy than others.

By choosing whole foods ranking low on the GI, we ensure we receive a slow and gradual release of energy into the body, while simultaneously avoiding the energy crash associated with high GI foods.

Additionally, by prioritizing foods that contain essential B group vitamins, in conjunction with the minerals phosphorus, manganese, magnesium, and iron, we can maximize the body’s ability to produce and metabolize energy.

This can stave off feelings of lethargy while maximizing energy production significantly.

Did you know how important the food you eat is for regulating your energy levels?  Let us know in the comment section below!  

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