Nowaydays we are super busy, a generation that is continuously jumping to reconcile work, home, relationships, affections and social activities; why wonder if we feel exhausted?
It happens to almost everyone, children and adults, to face periods in which one feels particularly tired. Sometimes the fault is insomnia, other times stress or intense physical activity. If you do not want to spend the day drowsy, lacking in energy and in a bad mood, it is good to have a solution.
Reducing stress and trying to get enough sleep (at least 7 hours a night) is essential to regain the lost energy, but they are not the only useful measures against fatigue: even food can help you get back into shape, helping to satisfy the energy requirement and that of specific micronutrients involved in energy metabolism.
In fact, a temporary fatigue is frequently caused by a lack of minerals or vitamins which can be remedied by acting on the daily diet.
What are the foods that give energy?
The best medicine to prevent fatigue is to ensure a healthy and balanced diet that includes all categories of food: fruit and vegetables; cereals and potatoes; milk and dairy products; foods rich in protein (beans and other legumes, fish, eggs and meats), as I always like to say “a little bit of everything”.
In addition, to avoid drops in energy it is good to try to eat at regular intervals. This will make it harder to run out of energy and your body will learn to manage your appetite better.
Many experts recommend 3 main meals plus 2 snacks – one mid-morning and one mid-afternoon – also underlining the importance of breakfast: it is the source of the energy needed to start facing the day in the best possible way.
As for the well known energy food par excellence, the sugar, it is important to remember that, even if it is an immediate source of energy, sucrose and all simple sugars (such as those found in sweets) are not the best solution to avoid feeling tired: they give an energy boost which however runs out quickly.
Complex carbohydrates are a more suitable choice, because they are absorbed more slowly and, therefore, release energy for a longer time; by doing so, they reduce the risk of finding yourself running out of energy in the middle of the day. Whole grains stand out among the best sources (and therefore also wholemeal pasta, rice and bread), because thanks to the presence of fibers they create a system capable of further slowing down the absorption of carbohydrates.
Other foods useful for bringing energy are those rich in iron. Anemia due to a deficiency of this mineral can easily cause fatigue. To feel full of energy, it is therefore important to consume meat and other sources of this micronutrient, such as green leafy vegetables. However, it must be remembered that the iron present in foods of plant origin is more difficult to absorb than in foods of animal origin; for this reason it is good to take them together with a source of vitamin C, a micronutrient that increases the bioavailability of iron. So make way for recipes such as spinach and meat seasoned with lemon, a source of vitamin C.
Magnesium and potassium are also two mineral salts that help the body to function at full capacity. Both are involved in muscle contraction and the transmission of nerve impulses. They also allow the correct development of various metabolic reactions; magnesium, for example, is involved in the metabolism of fats and carbohydrates, while potassium is important in the reactions that convert glucose into glycogen, the form in which glucose is stored in the muscles and liver.
Finally, to avoid annoying drops in energy, you should have a diet rich in the right vitamins. From this point of view, the most useful are the B vitamins, such as vitamin B1, B6, B9 and B12.
Vitamin B1 also called thiamine is present in whole grains, wheat, pork, liver, legumes and nuts. Vitamin B6 is found in wheat, liver, meat, fish, whole grains, potatoes, avocados, bananas and legumes.
Vitamin B9 also called folic acid is contained in abundance in green leafy vegetables. Other food sources of folic acid are represented by legumes and whole grains.
To take vitamin B12, it is essential to consume foods of animal origin, such as meat, dairy products, liver and shellfish. Those who follow special diets (especially the vegan diet) must take it in the form of food supplements.
Other important substances are those with antioxidant power, such as vitamins C and E, and flavonoids, such as carotenoids and anthocyanins.
Vitamin C is mainly contained in kiwis, citrus fruits, strawberries, currants, peppers, tomatoes, green leafy vegetables and potatoes.
On the other hand, vegetable oils of any type (olive, corn, soy, peanuts, various seeds and so on) and dried fruit (walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds) are rich in vitamin E.
To fill up on carotenoids and, in particular, beta-carotene precursor of vitamin A you have to go in search of yellow-orange or red fruits, such as pumpkin, tomatoes, peppers, carrots and oranges. Foods rich in vitamin A are liver, egg yolk, fish and milk.
Anthocyanins, on the other hand, are found in abundance in blue-purple or dark red vegetables, such as berries (in particular, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries and currants), grapes, plums, black cabbage, Tropea onions, beetroot and aubergines.
Let’s see 10 foods that we should eat for a boost of energy
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Oats are rich in calcium, potassium and magnesium, as well as B vitamins, which promote energy production.
As we have seen above, magnesium plays a fundamental role in the conversion of food into energy; a lack of magnesium in the diet can cause a lack of energy. Oats also have a low glycemic index and therefore promote a gradual release of energy.
Have breakfast or a snack with muesli, oatmeal or oat biscuits.
Packed with protein, vitamins, and minerals as well as good fats, nuts can make a great snack when you are running low on energy.
Almonds contain magnesium and calcium, minerals that promote the increase of energy. Walnuts are rich in potassium, zinc and iron, while peanuts are a good source of vitamin B6, which helps the body to use and conserve the energy derived from proteins and carbohydrates that we consume with food.
Choose the one you prefer, but don’t exaggerate, because nuts are high in calories and fat; the ideal serving is a small handful or two tablespoons.
Rich in vitamin C and fiber, fruits are ideal for a snack that can give us energy.
Vitamin C is vital for the production of carnitine, a molecule that helps the body produce energy by burning fat. A lack of vitamin C not only causes a feeling of tiredness and apathy, but also forces the body to store fat that does not burn in the muscles.
Oranges and citrus fruits abound in vitamin C; bananas are also an excellent choice, because they are a rich source of carbohydrates (the body’s favorite energy source) and contain a lot of potassium, an essential element for growth and maintenance processes.
In any way, there is no such thing as “bad fruit”, so consume a large assortment to add variety and nutrition to your diet.
As I always say, don’t forget to eat your veggies.
Broccoli, spinach (rich in iron, an important mineral for energy), asparagus and Brussels sprouts are all high-energy vegetables and also abound in essential vitamins and minerals for the body.
Sweet potatoes are also an excellent choice, because they are rich in carbohydrates and vitamins A and C, essential for energy.
Replacing traditional rice, bread, and pasta with their wholegrain versions helps stabilize blood sugars.
Refined carbohydrates contain very little fiber and are subject to heavy processing, while unrefined carbohydrates are rich in fiber, which slow down the release of sugars from carbohydrates and therefore do not cause swings in blood sugar and energy levels.
Unpolished rice and wholemeal bread are excellent sources of vitamin B5, which helps the body extract the nutrients that give energy from food.
Fish is a good source of protein as well as many vitamins and minerals.
Fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, trout, herring, fresh tuna and sardines all have a high content of vitamins B6, B3 (niacin) and B12, which are important for the conversion of food into energy.
Fish is also rich in magnesium, another essential mineral for energy production.
Fatty fish also contain omega 3 fatty acids, which are beneficial for normal heart function.
Lean red meats
This is not always spoken well about, but a consumption of lean red meats can help the body to replenish proteins and iron, both of which are vital for energy.
As we have seen above, iron deficiency can cause anemia, the main symptoms of which are fatigue, apathy and a general lack of energy.
Meat is also a major source of vitamin B12, which is essential for producing energy from the food we consume.
Beans and lentils
Promote a gradual release of energy and are rich in fiber, which slow down digestion, ensuring a more constant supply of energy.
Beans and lentils are high in iron, an important mineral for maintaining energy levels.
Curry dishes, soups, salads: beans and lentils are very versatile and satiating ingredients.
One of the few foods to be defined as ‘complete protein’ as they contain all 9 essential amino acids – the building blocks of the body’s proteins.
These amino acids are vital for muscle development and the tissue repair process.
Being a rich source of protein, eggs are very suitable for giving a boost of energy.
Eating a lot of garlic may not be the best in social relationships, due to its particular smell, but its great beneficial virtues have been known for centuries.
This powerful herb can help reduce fatigue and increase energy levels.
Garlic has also been associated with the proper functioning of the cardiovascular system and the regulation of blood sugars; in addition to all this, it gives great flavor to many dishes!
Lacking in energy? Here you have lots of foods that can help you!
What is your favourite food to eat when you’re feeling tired?