Energy and stamina are essential in this fast-paced, overachieving, sleep-deprived world, but before you settle for soaring and crashing from the simple carbohydrates served up at vending machines and drive-through windows, take a look at what nature has to offer. The healthiest foods taste great, come in vibrant colours and require little preparation—they are the ultimate fast foods. A healthy balanced diet will provide you with more energy, brain clarity, less aches and pains, and the stamina to keep pace.
Eat six smaller meals a day, or eat breakfast, lunch and dinner but downsize them and throw in three snacks. This will keep your energy level balanced throughout the day. Start your day off with a bowl of steaming oats for energy, brain clarity, lower blood cholesterol, stable blood sugar levels and regular bowel function. Throw in some seeds for protein and blueberries for a boost of free-radical-fighting antioxidants. Think fresh and hit the veggies sautéed with an egg on a wrap, or sweeten brown rice with a mix of fruit in season.
Try to focus on putting good foods for energy in your body rather than settling for empty calories. Combining complex carbohydrates with protein will give you a greater return of energy and stamina. Try hummus with cucumber, sprouts and tomato in a wrap, or cheese and whole grain crackers with pear. Have low-fat meat with a potato and add vegetables. A good rule is to make the largest percentage of food on your plate vegetables. And don’t be afraid to dip. Salsa stimulates taste buds while providing antioxidants and vitamins A, C and K in just a few calories.
Think of snacks as small meals, have three a day and be sure to consider serving size. A snack of fresh nuts packs a punch of protein, while fresh vegetables have lots of nutrients with a crunch and a piece of fruit will satisfy your sweet tooth. These are all good choices if you are watching your waistline.
Some foods provide energy and at the same time are conducive to a restful sleep, making them the perfect choice for evening meals. Broccoli has energy-boosting antioxidants, lowers your risk of heart disease, stroke and some cancers and is said to calm nerves and promote peaceful sleep. Beans, lentils, chickpeas, hazelnuts, peanuts, eggs, sunflower and sesame seeds, raw dairy products and whole grains all contain tryptophan, an amino acid your body cannot make but needs to produce serotonin. Serotonin acts within your body to promote feelings of sleepiness, calm and relaxation. Combine them with complex carbohydrates for maximum benefit.
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