Up your Energy!

Posted: October 26, 2010 in Health
Tags: , , , , ,

By Claricia Coeries

We could all do with a bit more energy to get us through the day… So we reach for a quick dose of caffeine. Stop! Healthy grains, fruits, and veggies are a much better option to up your energy.

So you love making great-tasting, flavour-rich, gobsmackingly wonderful food. And not just making it, of course.  The eating, tasting, lip-licking part is usually the best.  But you don’t have a lot of time and you’re usually too knackered to spend hours putting together something tasty, and, well… edible.  So most nights you end up having mac-n-cheese, a sandwich, or stop at a fast-food café on your way for a medium-sized bag of French fries.  Problem is, after a few weeks of fast-food and ready-made packs of carbs, you’re left feeling bloated, your energy levels are sadly drooping and, well, you’re just not the energy bunny you used to be.  In the Duracell ad, you’re the other bunny that conks out after the first half of the lap and need about three battery swops before you make it to the finish line.  And by then, the Duracell bunny has been snacking on carrot sticks, making it to the end of the line in half the time it took you to get there, munching and smiling all the way.  It’s true. Fast foods and ready-made foods are not as healthy as a balanced diet of fruits and veggies and all the good stuff. (Even the Duracell bunny figured that one out.) Staying on top of your game is gonna take a bit of effort on your part – like keeping your batteries charged with high-energy foods and snacks.  As you’ve come to know, energy is a must have when one is trying to keep up with a high-performance job and the buzz of city-life.

Patrick Holford, a world-renowned nutritionist and author of Beat Stress and Fatigue writes that one needs to optimize the intake of the nutrients involved in turning food into energy.  Grains, fruits and vegetables are your three best friends when it comes to finding a way of stocking up on your energy stash. These three food groups can inspire your diet with just what you need to step up your game.


Wheat, corn, barley, rye, oats, quinoa and rice all form part of this food group.  The amylose and amylopectin these grains contain affects the speed at which they release energy.  Since wheat and corn are high in amylopectin, they release energy quickly, which means one has to eat a whole lot of it to acquire a certain level of energy. Oats and rye are high in amylase and are therefore slow-releasing on glucose, ensuring the energy released in your body is sustained over time and doesn’t ‘burn up’ as quickly.  Most rice has a high GI score and contains a high level of amylopectin, so brown Basmati rice is definitely a better, smarter option.


Oranges, strawberries and tomatoes are rich in vitamin C, which is good for maintaining good energy levels throughout the day. Grapes, pineapples and bananas, however, contain varying amounts of fast-releasing glucose, which are not as sustainable.  It’s also better to eat fruit fresh and unsweetened. Slice up a few different fruits and make a smoothie – easy to sip for a quick breakfast on your way to work. Grapefruit and cherries also have a low GI score, making them great energy-supplying fruits.


Carrots, peas and sweet potatoes are the richest form of slow-releasing vegetables since they have the lowest GI score. Veggies to cut back on are baked potatoes and parsnips. Veggies that are rich in vitamin B, magnesium and calcium such as broccoli, peas and cabbage restore carbohydrates to the body, increasing the flow of carbohydrates and glucose. Not only are they great-tasting, but they keep the body alive and the mind alert.

Remember that eating for vitality means that you avoid:

–          refined sugars

–          refined carbohydrates, found in white bread, biscuits, cakes

–          stimulants such as tea, coffee, cigarettes

And have more:

–          beans, lentils, seeds and wholegrains

–          fresh fruit

–          fish and free-range chicken and meat

–          water, herbal teas and unsweetened fruit juices

These foods help you maintain sufficient blood sugar levels for consistent energy.  Stimulants are best avoided as they stimulate the release of stress-related hormones, and saps energy.  Eating a combination of grains, fruits and vegetables will help you maintain your energy so you can get the most out of your day!


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