Diet And Nutrition- Can Foods Sap Your Energy?
Food is fuel, but…
What you eat gives you energy. But some kinds of food are more like a burst, while other kinds of food will last you longer. Do you know what has staying power and what is a quick fix?
Think pasta, white bread, cookies, candies, crackers, and sweets. Foods made with a lot of sugar or refined white flour don’t have much fiber for your body to break down. This allows sugar to enter your bloodstream quickly. You may get a quick burst of energy. But when your blood sugar goes back down, you may feel sluggish.
These include brown rice, barley, farro, oatmeal (not the instant kind), and whole wheat. You’ll get more fiber in them, which will keep your energy going stronger and longer. In addition, these foods contain many nutrients that are good for you.
These include sports and energy drinks, regular sodas, and some fruit juices (those containing 100% fruit juice are more nutritious). You may get a little pick-me-up after a sip, but not for long – just like sugary foods. Some of these drinks also contain caffeine. If you drink too much and don’t sleep well tonight, that means you’ll be more tired tomorrow.
Wine, Beer, and Liquor
Alcohol can make you drowsy. If you drink at night, you may find it easy to fall asleep. However, when the bedtime drink disappears after a few hours, you may wake up. When your sleep is choppy, you may feel tired the next day. Alcohol also relaxes your throat muscles, which may worsen sleep apnea.
Technically, it doesn’t give you energy because water has no calories. But if you don’t drink enough water, you may feel tired. Make this your go-to drink at meals and throughout the day. Add some lemon, lime, or other fruit if that helps you want to drink enough water.
Dairy products. Most people can drink it.
Milk and foods containing milk will not crash your energy levels. If you are lactose intolerant, simply choose lactose-free milk or non-dairy options such as almond, soy, rice, oatmeal or coconut drinks. Make sure you choose drinks that are fortified with calcium and vitamin D.
What about gluten?
If you have celiac disease, you can’t digest the proteins in wheat, rye, barley, and some oats. It can give you all kinds of gastrointestinal distress and leave you exhausted. But there’s nothing unhealthy about gluten. So if you feel good after eating it, you don’t need to avoid it. If you do have celiac disease or are sensitive to gluten, you can eat naturally gluten-free foods and grains such as quinoa, rice and nut flours.
The Effects of Caffeine
When you start your day with a cup of coffee or tea, you may feel energized. This is because caffeine has chemicals that make you more awake. But if you drink more than a few cups or just before you go to bed, you may have trouble dozing off. This may make you feel tired the next day-until you have caffeine. If you have trouble falling asleep, switch to a non-caffeinated beverage at least 6 hours before bedtime.
If you are eating a high-fat diet, you may get sleepy during the day or after meals. This includes meals that are cooked in large amounts of oil or lard. Not only are fried foods an energy drain, but eating too much of them is also bad for your heart. Experts recommend avoiding such foods. But if you do indulge, limit it to small portions no more than a few times a month. To avoid fatigue from fried foods, opt for baked or roasted foods instead.
Going to a feast?
It’s not uncommon to get sleepy after a full meal. (Remember that feeling a few hours after Thanksgiving?) This happens most often after a big meal. If you’ve eaten a lot of calories and carbohydrates with protein, it can trigger nap time. To avoid it, eat as little as possible. And fill your plate with more vegetables. Or just make peace with the naps you want later!
Meet in the Middle
Want to eat white rice while stir-frying? While foods with a high glycemic index (GI) can spike your blood sugar quickly, there is a way to make your energy last longer. Simply add a low GI food. These foods include beans and lentils, fish, poultry, meat, tofu, and non-starchy vegetables like broccoli or green vegetables.
Chocolate. Dark chocolate and milk.
All chocolate contains caffeine. You’ll also get serotonin, a chemical that relaxes you – but not enough to make you feel tired. Just watch out for the sugar: its quick burst of energy can quickly turn into a failure. It’s okay to eat a little chocolate. In terms of health benefits, dark chocolate trumps milk chocolate because you get more of the heart-healthy cacao beans from chocolate.