I exercise a lot. Like a really lot. And I eat as healthfully as I can.
I challenge myself often to go a month without alcohol or fried foods (harder in the summer; but way easier in the winter when it is just too damn cold to go outside). I set fitness goals for myself (you can eat cookies if you do a half hour of cardio). And I try to eat as cleanly as possible (again, hard when you are on the go; but makes you feel amazing).
Now I can’t promise that any of these foods will be good for everyone. I live with no chronic conditions, allergies or injuries, so I have the ability to eat whatever I want. So please keep this in mind for any diet changes you may want to try. Your doctor is a great source of information if you live with any chronic conditions that may require diet restrictions!
So this week Blue Eyes and I were trying to figure out what foods would have the most energy boosting and hydrating effects. This is what we came up with for great energy booting goodness (stand by for hydration foods tomorrow!):
- Nuts. Good source of fiber to keep you full and many varieties have protein too! To make a sort of epic snack, I like to roast hazelnuts – feels like a crazy good (and crunchy!) dessert.
- Peanut butter. Now, I will eat ANYTHING with peanut butter; and many of my choices are further below. If you don’t feel like getting that far: bananas, apples and whole grain breads.
- Whole grains. Granola in yogurt. Cereal in yogurt. Multi-grain bread for a sandwich. Bagels with peanut butter. Carbs aren’t the devil if they are eaten correctly; and whole-grain based breads can actually fill you up and satisfy your sweet tooth since they help to raise blood sugar.
- Fruit. Apples and bananas are huge sources of energy. Did you know that a medium-to-large sized banana can sustain you throughout a vigorous 60-to-90 minute workout? That’s definitely a super food!
- Beans. Another great source of fiber and a really fun way to snack. Crack open a can of beans (black or pinto or whatever tickles your fancy) and rinse and drain. Dump them in the food processor with a tiny bit of olive oil to smooth them out and whatever spices you like. Bake some plain whole grain tortillas and sprinkle with salt when they are still warm and you can totally trick your mouth and stomach into thinking you hit the junk-food jackpot. Also try this with chickpeas (some tahini makes hummus) and whole grain pitas for the Mediterranean version.
- MEAT!! I am an advocate of a balanced diet, and I apologize for anyone that this will offend, but meat is a huge part of a balanced diet. It’s true, you can absolutely replace the protein chains in meat by combining different varieties of beans and cheese – but kids, we as humans are carnivores. Lean meats, such as skinless and boneless chicken breast, lean pork and lean beef will not only fill you up and satisfy your hunger; but they also sustain you. For an easy boneless, skinless chicken meal you can thaw out that chicken and marinate over night (or in the morning if you have time, but who really does?) in a vinegar of your choosing – acid breaks down the chicken to tenderize it. When you get home from work, spray a baking disk with non-stick cooking spray, dump the chicken concoction into the dish and cover with a slightly watered down condensed soup. Cover with tin foil and bake until the chicken is done.
- Salmon. All of the exact reasons above, plus omega-3s and healthy fats. And you can cook it super fast and don’t need a knife to cut it!
- Vegetables. Obviously. Whatever is in season, clean, skin in, dice it…add an onion and some garlic. Toss with a little olive oil and dump into a baking dish and roast until the tenderness you desire. Easy, satisfying and fulfilling! And kids might even eat them too!
- Salad. Enough said. The greatest thing about salad is any of the above things can be added to it for an awesome mid-afternoon (and using your left-overs from dinner the night before) lunch. Need to sustain yourself throughout your after-work workout? A hearty salad with oil and vinegar dressing for lunch will do just that!
- Caffeine. This is like a given, but actually drinking coffee and tea not only speeds up your metabolism and gives you an energy boost; they actually force you to drink water that you may not have been consuming elsewhere.
- Dark chocolate. You were waiting for this one, right? Dark chocolate naturally contains caffeine and will boost your mood! Moderation is key, but I think of it as an excuse for those luscious dark chocolate candy bars.
- Meals. Breakfast, lunch and dinner. Sensible foods and amounts with sensible and small snacks throughout the day. The more (moderate) goodness you put into your body, the more goodness it will give you back.
Don’t forget to always drinks lots and lots of water and get a good night of sleep. Frequent activity will also help to boost your energy levels too. Your body wants it – and maybe feeling fatigue is it’s way of telling you to get up and go for a walk!