Thursday, March 11, 2010

6 Foods to Fuel You

Get healthy bursts of energy by choosing the right snacks...

A word to the sluggish: to feel more energetic, opt for foods containing more carbs. Our body uses them more efficiently for fuel than protein or fat, says Diana Steele, a Vancouver registered dietitian.

The key is to choose complex carbs (think whole grains and legumes) over simple carbs (refined sugars and processed foods stripped of nutrients) because they digest more slowly. As carbs are digested, the broken-down sugars enter our bloodstream. Our body in turn releases insulin, a chemical that transports these sugars from our blood into our cells, powering us. Because simple carbs digest and get absorbed quickly, your body releases insulin quickly (and sometimes too much of it), making your blood-sugar-level spike and then drop, and suddenly you feel beat. Complex carbs will keep you going stronger, longer.

Here are more tips, and a list of top 6 energy boosters...


BLUEBERRIES

You'll feel a short-term burst of energy.

It works because it's a low-calorie, easily digested carbohydrate jam-packed with antioxidants, “the spark plugs for fuel,” says Steele.

Eat it when you want a healthy snack.


CHOCOLATE MILK

You'll feel an instant, lasting energy.

It works because liquid is digested more quickly than food, and the protein (7 g per 250 ml) stabilizes the refined carbs (added sugar).

Drink it when your sweet-tooth and fatigue collide.


ENERGY BAR

You'll feel a long steady blast of energy (from the protein in the nuts).

It works because the complex carbs and omega-3s sustain energy and stabilize blood sugar. Try Vega Whole Food energy bars, about $48 for 12.

Eat it when you’re heading to spin class.

Caution: One bar can contain up to 300 calories.


QUINOA

You'll feel steady energy for hours.

It works because it has the highest protein of any whole grain (14-16%) and is a good source of B vitamins (the energy vitamins).

Eat it when you have a long time to go between meals.

(Quinoa is an amino acid-rich (protein) seed that has a fluffy, creamy, slightly crunchy texture and a somewhat nutty flavor when cooked - it is most commonly considered a grain, quinoa is actually a relative of leafy green vegetables like spinach and Swiss chard. Found in most health food stores throughout the year.)


WELLNESS WATER

You'll feel refreshed and alert.

It works because staying hydrated ensures proper body function. Try Propel Vitamin Supplement, about $2, 700 ml.

Drink it when you can, especially in lieu of that 3 p.m. coffee (caffeine is a stimulant, not a source of energy).


WHOLE-GRAIN CRACKERS

You'll feel short-term energy.

It works because fibre slows digestion and stabilizes blood-sugar levels.

Eat it when you need a convenient snack.


Finally, here are 3 tips to help you sustain energy all day long:

  • Break down your daily calorie intake into 55% carbs, 25% fat and 20% protein (it helps to visualize that proportion on your actual plate).
  • Fuel up regularly – stay hydrated and eat three meals and two snacks spread out every three hours, totalling between 1,700 and 2,200 calories (the exact amount depends on your level of activity, gender, height and weight).
  • Eat protein , such as meat, fish, nuts, seeds, eggs, tofu or cheese, at every meal. “Protein anchors carbs, helping to slow the rise and fall of blood-sugar levels, which means more stable energy levels,” says Steele.


  • Article Citation:
    Lesley Young "6 Foods to Fuel You"
    Copyright © St. Joseph Media - 20 Minute Supper Club. Web. 11 Mar. 2010.

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