Tired all the time? I find that many people have grown so accustomed to having chronically low energy and a slump mid-afternoon, that they barely notice anymore and often continue to reach for sugary or fatty foods like biscuits or chocolate, to boost blood sugar levels right back up again. Guilty? I know I sometimes am!
Unfortunately, simple, processed carbs may give you a quick burst of energy, but it’s short-lived, and generally results in an energy slump.
But there are certain foods that can give you plenty of slow-release energy to help you get through a busy day without feeling that you need to eat RIGHT NOW!
While fresh fruit is also a great source of clean-burning, instant energy and bursting with vitamins and antioxidants, it’s also the fastest type of food to digest and leave your stomach. I’ll grab a piece of fruit if I need an energy burst between balanced meals, but it won’t realistically keep you feeling satisfied for very long. Too much fruit may also cause digestive and bloating problems for some people, so it’s so important to listen to your own body 🙂
Carbs are the main source of glucose for your body cells and used by your brain and red blood cells. They’re the most efficient source of fuel, and probably why they’re so widely available in nature, in the form of fruit and veggies. Both simple and complex carbs are broken down into glucose, to be either used for energy or stored in the liver or fat cells if in excess, for future use.
Aiming for around 50-60% of your diet to consist of complex carbohydrates that contain plenty of fibre and don’t raise blood sugar levels sky-high, is the best way to ensure slow-release energy for the entire day. They move slowly through your system, without causing a spike in insulin, and can even help to keep your mood stable too.
Much of this effect is from fibre found in plants, of which the soluble type gets broken down in your large intestine and the insoluble form of fibre is excreted, helping to sweep out toxins as it moves through your colon.
Some of the very best energy-boosting, slow-release carbs to focus on eating, include oats, sweet potato, butternut squash, quinoa, brown rice, lentils and beans. Even though these types of carbs give you the energy for your daily tasks, it’s still better to combine them with a little protein and healthy fats, to slow down their absorption even more if sustained energy to your cells over quite a few hours is the goal.
This means adding lentils or pumpkin seeds to your butternut squash soup, for instance, a little nut butter with chopped fruit, or popping a tablespoon of chia seeds into a fruity smoothie, like my triple berry chia-coconut last. All easy and delicious, too! 🙂
For continued energy throughout the day, eating regularly is so important: Aim to eat a meal or snack every 3-4 hours and never allow more than five hours to go by without some sort of sustenance to power your brain, nervous system and muscles. If that happens, your body switches to economy-mode, preserving calories which keeps energy and brain function at a low level, and then it uses stored energy reserves, including your muscle mass. Doing this regularly can lower your immune system and actually cause you to gain weight.
Try my Chai-Spiced Vanilla Quinoa Porridge for an energising brekkie to keep you going until lunchtime 🙂