You have a plan. This new year (once again) you have resolved to get fit and eat a more nutritious diet. You start out gangbusters the first few weeks and then the enthusiasm and the energy to put in the effort start to wane.
Even the most sincere desire to turn over a new leaf in the new year can be thwarted if you don’t have the “juice” to keep up the pace. So, what if you combined your goal of getting fit with your challenge to eat right and fuel your new lifestyle with healthy foods that can actually boost your energy? Try adding some of nature’s own energy boosters to your diet and see the difference it can make in your stamina and the ability to stick to your goals.
Almonds When you start to droop, instead of reaching for a cup of Joe or grabbing a sugary snack, munch on a handful of almonds (about 23 nuts). They contain nutrients like vitamin B and magnesium that help convert food to energy. Magnesium keeps you from tiring quickly and promotes concentration, and vitamin B prevents irritability and fatigue.
Bananas The perfect take along snack, bananas are packed with fiber, vitamin B6 and potassium, nutrients that promote sustained energy and muscle function, making them ideal for before or after a workout. Add a glass of low-fat milk or a cup of yogurt and you have a great combination to fuel your morning or as a pick-me-up during the day.
Greek Yogurt If you’re a yogurt lover, you can’t go wrong with a Greek variety. It delivers twice the protein as regular yogurt for an energy boosting breakfast, lunch or snack. Just be sure to stick to a nonfat version that is low in added sugar (around 100 calories per container). For a little extra pizazz try topping Greek yogurt with fresh berries and/or chopped nuts.
Hummus The basic ingredients of hummus are pureed chickpeas or garbanzo beans, tahini (sesame paste), olive oil, garlic and spices. The fiber and protein of the beans stabilize blood sugar, curb your hunger and give you a boost of energy. Use hummus as a nutritious dip with veggies as a snack or a substitute for mayonnaise on a sandwich.
Kale Transform your salad into an energy booster by using nutrient-rich kale as a base. Kale is also great sautéed as a side dish, chopped into soups or tossed with whole-wheat pasta. Kale contains the amino acid L-tyrosine, which may help give you a mental lift, a number of important antioxidants and fiber to fill you up and help keep your blood sugar stable.
Oatmeal A bowl of oatmeal with its high-fiber content provides lasting energy to power you through the entire morning, compared to a breakfast of white toast and jelly. It also stabilizes blood-sugar levels, so you’ll feel energized and focused without needing to reach for another cup of coffee.
Peanut Butter Although it is a calorie-dense food, peanut butter delivers healthy fats, protein and fiber to satisfy your hunger, and keep you going. It also keeps your blood sugar stable. A little goes a long way (about 2-tablespoons) in providing a great-tasting energy boost. Instead of spreading your morning toast with butter or jelly, substitute an all-natural nut butter.
Pistachios The rich protein content of pistachios makes them an ideal food for energy all day. Their perfect combination of protein, fiber, and heart-healthy monounsaturated fats adds up to a healthy, satisfying snack. Although nuts are calorie-dense, 25 pistachios have only 100 calories, and the time it takes to shell them slows you down and helps prevent overeating.
Popcorn The whole-grain carbohydrates in popcorn prevent the blood-sugar crashes that can happen after consuming refined or simple carbohydrates, making it a smart snack pick. The fiber in popcorn provides volume and keeps you satisfied longer than chips and crackers. And, it’s low in calories as long as you don’t defile it with butter, salt or oil. Try popping your own (instead of the microwave variety) and season with herbs and spices.