With busy schedules and unhealthy diets, energy has become a scarcity for many. But haven’t we all become adept at working long hours with little or no energy? At times like this, the saviour we turn to is caffeine. Caffeine is wonderful, I’ll give you that, but all it does is keep you from falling asleep. It pushes your mind to be alert without giving it the resources to be. The resource is, of course, energy. But an instant boost of energy is also not always the answer because frankly, if you remember your physics, anything that goes up must always come down. What one needs to be efficient throughout the day is a steady source of energy. Here are a few food sources that give just the right amount to fight that midday fatigue.
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Vitamin C, unlike Glucose, doesn’t break down to provide energy directly. But what it does, so elegantly, is activate the enzymes needed to release energy form all the carbohydrates, proteins and fats. This way, it fastens the process of energy production in the body.
Sipping on lemon water or eating an orange during breaks is not only refreshing but also a great way to get instant energy that doesn’t wane. Strawberries and papaya are other fruits that are a good source of Vitamin C. Red bell pepper, sweet potato and broccoli are the veggies you can mix up in a salad for a good dose of the mighty Vitamin.
Magnesium, if you don’t already know, is the muscle’s favourite mineral. It relieves muscle spasms almost instantly because it breaks down at the cellular level, thereby giving an immediate and powerful dose of energy. It also forms an important part of the neural pathway, assisting the conduction of neural impulses with its high electrical potential. The enzymes that control your digestion and the subsequent absorption of the digested food also rely heavily on Magnesium. Does it need more selling points?
Bananas are your best and easily available source of magnesium. Although milk products are known for packing calcium, they are also great sources of Magnesium – especially yogurt. Nuts like almonds, hazel nuts, and cashew nuts are other appetizing sources.
Like Magnesium, B Vitamins are involved in energy production at the cellular level. In fact, some of them are needed for the conversion of glucose into usable energy – the most vital step of energy production. Others help with the transport of glucose in the bloodstream. You can see that Vitamin B is the personal assistant without which Glucose, the senior employee, cannot function.
Brown rice – a whole grain – is rich in B Vitamins, most of which are lost when it’s converted to white rice. Greens, soybeans, watermelon and all dry fruits are other great sources.
All simple sugars – Glucose, Fructose and Sucrose – are easily absorbed by the blood. They are then transported to the cells where they are effortlessly (as effortless as it gets) broken down. This is the reason why sugars provide instant energy.
Chocolates are your best source of Glucose. The darker the chocolate, the lesser the Glucose, but higher the levels of Serotonin and Dopamine released. Chocolate contains an amino acid that stimulates the brain to release these neurotransmitters. Dopamine controls the pleasure centre and Serotonin calms the mind – why do you think Harry Potter ate them after encounters with Dementors? Whether or not you see Dementors as a metaphor for your boss, it’s a win-win situation with chocolate.
A spoonful of honey in your tea or in a midday snack also works wonders as it contains Glucose and Fructose.
Iron present in your blood binds with oxygen and transports it to all the cells in your body. Low levels of iron in the blood makes a person anaemic – a state of perpetual tiredness. So no matter what energy drinks or food you take, it is futile if you have an iron deficiency.
Spinach, beans, sesame seeds and chickpeas are some easily available food sources that help replenish your system with Iron.
The key to instant energy is eating foods that don’t require too time and energy for digestion. Proteins provide energy over a long term but are not the wisest choice in this case. So if you want to feel alive and not just make it through the day, it might be time to eat right.