Regardless of whether you’re working out or just trying to get through the day, chances are, a little extra energy would do most of us a lot of good. While there are a number of factors that can affect our energy levels, like the power of the sun, quality sleep and even home décor, one key player is the food we eat.
We asked Kimberly Altman, MS, RD, LD/N, at The Pritikin Longevity Center & Spa in Miami, Florida, what her top six foods for boosting energy are. “All the foods we recommend and offer at the Center are plant based and loaded with powerful nutrients to help our bodies run on premium fuel,” she says. “The following six super foods will keep you feeling svelte and healthy—and with plenty of energy to burn!” Check out her picks and her kitchen tips, too!
1. Rolled Oats
Fiber-rich oats not only help reduce your risk for heart disease, but they slow glucose absorption into the bloodstream, helping to keep your blood sugar steady and energy up. Oats are also a good source of vitamin B, which helps transform carbohydrates into usable energy.
Kitchen Tip: Make oatmeal your go-to breakfast. “Prepare it using soy milk—the unsweetened vanilla variety adds a hint of sweetness—and top it with your favorite fruit,” Altman advises. “We think mixed berries taste delicious!”
Lentils are another well-loved food at Pritkin because they’re loaded with dietary fiber (eight grams per half-cup serving) and will keep you feeling full (but not too full!) and energetic throughout your busy day.
Kitchen Tip: Lentils work well in savory soups, stews or over brown rice.
A great source of potassium and electrolytes, bananas help our bodies maintain normal nerve and muscle function. They’re especially beneficial for exercisers since we lose potassium after excessive sweating. Plus, bananas’ high-fiber content makes them an extra-energizing choice.
Kitchen Tip: Bananas are one of the most portable fruits. “Pack one in your bag and you’ll be prepared when hunger strikes,” Altman suggests. “For a frosty treat, try bananas frozen, they are yummy! Also, they add a natural sweetness as an oatmeal topper or in fruit salad.”
4. Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes contain beta-carotene and are packed with fiber, making them a high-satiety food. These tubers are also rich in a variety of essential nutrients, including copper, iron, potassium, manganese, folate and vitamins B6 and C.
Kitchen Tip: “Sweet potatoes are the perfect, easy-to-prepare snack,” Altman says. “Bake or microwave them, sprinkle with cinnamon and bring them along for the ride.”
Spinach boasts vitamin B and folic acid, both of which will give you lots of energy.
Kitchen Tip: Use the greens in salads, egg white omelets or just lightly steam and eat!
If you’re looking for a quick boost, oranges are your food. Rich in natural sugars, they also provide three grams of fiber for sustained energy. Just one navel orange meets your daily vitamin C requirement.
Kitchen Tip: Pritikin recommends noshing on the whole orange (rather than just the juice). “Make sure you eat the spongy inner layer that lies right under the colorful skin to ensure you get as much energy-sustaining fiber as possible,” she says. The citrus fruit tastes great alone, or use it in fruit salads or even sliced on top of your vegetable salads for some sweetness.
Pritikin is participating in Wellness Week! Wellness Week, March 19-25, is your chance to look and feel your best with exclusive spa treatments, private training and more, all at $50 prices or 50% discounts. Learn more on Wellness Week 2012.