Eat to wake up and slim down
Originally published on Momtourage/iVillage
Excuse us, we couldn’t help but notice the drool on your chest, and our guess is, it’s not your infant’s. Perhaps it’s time for a wake-up call that doesn’t involve espresso shots. What you need, in addition to sleep, are a few lessons in eating for energy. Lack of sleep amps up your appetite and makes you crave all the wrong things – causing a vicious cycle of sugar highs and lows, and ungainly weight gain. Here, eight fatigue-fighting foods that will wake you up and slim you down.
Lean, Mean Fighting Cuisine
Everything we eat turns into glucose – the gasoline that keeps our bodies running – but each food’s conversion rate is different. Think of carbs as the hare that runs out of steam before the finish line, while protein and fiber deliver a slow and steady stream. Beans and lentils, with equal amounts of both, will give you the endurance of a marathoner, even if you can’t huff your way around the block. Perk up with a serving of rice and beans, low-fat chili, edamame or hummus with pita.
Go Nuts Over Nuts
Just a handful of these fiber and protein powerhouses can keep your engine humming all afternoon. Almonds are rich in magnesium, which help turn sugar into energy. Studies show eating an ounce of nuts daily as part of a weight loss diet helped satisfy appetites without packing on pounds, so don’t worry about the calories – just keep your serving size to about a handful. Get an extra wallop of energy by adding raisins to the mix.
Embrace Your Cheesiness
Behold the power of cheese: low-fat dairy revs the metabolism and helps build muscle. Your healthiest bets: yogurt and cottage cheese. Their carbohydrates deliver fast-acting fuel to the system while protein prolongs your energy. Dairy products are also a good source of calcium and phosphorus, two minerals that help the muscles store energy.
Become Whole Again
It’s no wonder we crave carbs when wiped out: simple carbohydrates like sugar hit the bloodstream in a lightning-fast 15 minutes. But without fiber to slow it down, we crash and burn soon after. A better choice: complex carbs like oatmeal, or whole-grain bread, crackers and cereal. Look for 3 grams of fiber per serving. Make your energy last even longer by adding peanut butter to your toast and crackers, or milk to your oatmeal and cereal.
Brew the Right Thing
Dehydration is one of the most common fatigue-causing culprits, because most of us don’t realize when we need to replenish our fluids. If you wait until thirsty, you’re already partially parched. Supplement your water habit with green tea. A cup’s worth of caffeine will give you a gentler lift than coffee. Plus, exciting new studies show the miracle brew can boost your metabolism, while its catechins may even help burn fat. Sweeten with honey for a faster fix.
Go Deep C Diving
There’s nothing like the smell of a freshly peeled orange to wake you up. Citrus and other vitamin-C packed produce, like pineapple, boost production of norepinephrine, a stimulating chemical in the brain. Its sugar content makes fruit a natural energy source. Maintain your stamina by adding a bit of protein, like cheese or yogurt.
Fishing for Energy
There’s nothing fishy about eating salmon to combat exhaustion. Almost all of the vitamins and minerals you need to promote mental alertness and a sense of well-being are inside this super food. As a bonus, omega-3 fats stimulate the release of leptin, a hormone that regulates your metabolism and controls your appetite – making you much less likely to snack after a sleepless night.
Have a Cow
Turkey, chicken and lean cuts of meat are loaded with tyrosine, an amino acid that can help you feel more alert and focused. If you’re not getting enough meat, and you feel yourself dragging through the day, you might be low in iron. Pump up your levels with chicken legs or lean beef. For an energy-boosting lunch, try a spinach salad with walnuts, turkey, blue cheese and dried cranberries, or a turkey and swiss sandwich on whole-wheat bread.