In these winter months, and especially after the holidays, I find it hard to maintain my energy level. The days seem darker and the cold weather just makes me want to cuddle up next to a fireplace, or a heated blanket and take all the naps. However, even though my energy level goes down, the hard work does not! If I want to keep those New Year's resolutions I just made I can’t afford to lose any energy! Drinking a coffee in the morning or grabbing an energy drink in the afternoon when I start to drag, is just not an option for me. I have been caffeine-free since I graduated high school in 2013. So I am left to find natural ways to keep my energy up this time of year, and the best way to get this natural energy is through nutrient-dense food!
Leafy Green Vegetables
Greens such as spinach and kale are a great natural way to get your energy up. They both contain high amounts of vitamins and minerals that help regulate your body and have it feeling in tip-top shape. One of those being iron. Iron helps produce red blood cells that transport oxygen to vital cells in your body, and replenish your bodies storage. Without these important bodily functions, you would become easily fatigued throughout the day. Who knew it was as simple as eating your greens? I love adding these to my smoothies or just grabbing a salad when I’m on the go.
Beets are not only good to help you gain stamina and energy, but they are also beneficial when partnered with a healthy workout schedule. Studies have shown that beetroot can dramatically improve cardiovascular health and exercise performance in many adults. However, I find it hard to squeeze beets into my diet. Thankfully, there are many local options to help with this. Boise Juice Company has a juice called Turn up the Beet, and it does just that! They also have a shot called the Up Beet that contains mostly beets for those who just want to shoot it down and get on with your day. It’s so convenient, and they are both so good I don’t feel like I’m drinking something healthy.
I was so excited when I found out bananas were on the list of foods that help maintain your energy level. I love them! Just about every morning I will grab a banana and eat it on my way into work. I liked to think if it as my morning coffee, only better… literally. Some studies have shown when you eat a banana before a run, you perform better than you would if you drank an energy drink. Energy drinks have grown in popularity not because they are a good option, but because they are convenient. Make your energy-boosting food convenient for you, and healthy energy will become your go-to choice!
Now, this one I knew all along. When they say an apple a day keeps the doctor away - they aren’t kiddin’! This is because apples are a great source of fiber and natural sugars that are vital components in maintaining your energy levels and help provide a slow and continuous release of energy throughout the day. They are also rich in antioxidants that help release energy slowly over time as well.
My English teacher in middle school would eat the apple whole, core and all, because he said the seeds had just a hint of radioactivity in them and if he exposed himself in small doses over his lifetime, when World War III comes to fruition, he would outlive us all. Whatever reason, crazy or not, you have to add apples into your diet, know that you are getting some great health benefits not limited to increased energy.
This one is my favorite, and just more of an excuse for me to eat chocolate with every meal! But in all seriousness, chocolates that contain more cocoa, such as dark chocolate, help maintain a healthy cardiovascular system. This aids in transporting oxygen to vital parts of your body that help regulate energy and stamina. Dark chocolate also contains a compound known as theobromine and some caffeine that is known to help improve one’s energy and mood.
With that being said, from now on when my husband gives me that look (you know the one) when I grab dark chocolate after breakfast, I can tell him it’s for my health. And now you can too. No thank you’s necessary.
These are the five most important things that I have integrated into my daily life that helps me maintain my energy. However, there are so many more that I haven’t even touched on. With that, I will leave you with a quote that I like to live by when choosing food over substance:
“Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food.” - Hippocrates