Creeping up to 4 coffees a day? Buying expensive skin products to hide the bags under your eyes? Most of us wrestle with tiredness on the regular – and getting 7-9 hours of quality shut-eye can be tough. So, how do you keep a spring in your step when your fuel tank is low? Thankfully, nature provides food varieties that serve up big flavour and an even bigger energy hit. Here are the top five, according a Nutritionist.
Compared to most yoghurts, Greek-style yoghurts packs the largest protein punch. An average serve can deliver between 12 and 17 grams of protein, along with bone strengthening calcium and probiotics for gut health. Opt for plain varieties with fewer ingredients and flavour yourself with a drizzle of honey and cinnamon; blend into smoothies or dollop over soups, tacos and curries instead of cream.
A handful of blueberries each day delivers a huge range of health benefits that will make you feel great inside and out. Just half a cup of blueberries contains the same amount of antioxidants as 2 cups of broccoli, spinach and corn. So devour a whole punnet (one punnet equalling one serve of fruit); top up your morning muesli; add to smoothies or pancakes for a sweet hit of energy-inducing fibre, folate, potassium and vitamin C.
There are loads of reasons to go nuts for nuts. They’ll pick you up with a punchy combination of fibre and protein – an essential combo for a sustained energy boost and feelings of fullness. And while nuts are high in fat, there’s no need to avoid them if you’re watching the scales. In fact, several studies have found that eating modest amounts of nuts can actually support weight loss due to the high fibre content found in the skins. This makes them pass through the body almost whole – so the fat content isn’t absorbed. Apart from being a well-rounded, delicious snack, they’re also highly portable. So always keep a stash in your gym bag or desk drawer.
Energy bites (bliss balls)
The name says it all – these little bites deliver a big energy hit because they roll up a balanced blend of low-GI carbs to prevent blood sugar crash and burn, protein for appetite control, and healthy fats to help balance out your mood. Be careful though, as some store-bought varieties contain hidden ingredients which and can hit you with an unexpected calorie bomb. It’s best to DIY by blending wholefood ingredients such as nut butters or nuts with rolled oats, cacao and dried fruit including dates, figs or dried apricots. Fewer ingredients, the better.
Sip away muscle soreness with a smoothie. You can jam-pack them with everything from fruit and veggies for vitality; roll oats for replenished glycogen stores; Greek yoghurt for protein to assist muscle recovery and repair; and flax seeds for healthy fats to help quell inflammation. As with bliss balls, avoid too many ingredients, especially those with a higher sugar content – otherwise the calories can easily add up.
Bananas really do make your body sing. Made up of fibre, potassium, magnesium, folate and naturally-occurring sugars, bananas keep your body strong; your mind sharp and your mood optimum. As well as giving you a natural lift, bananas help to keep your tummy quiet and hunger at bay. Masters of versatility, you can chop, blend or munch bananas into a tonne of different recipes – be it smoothies, pancakes or salads.