1. Bananas may look a little dubious, but they taste good and are great for providing a natural energy boost. As an energy provider, bananas are also a versatile choice. Most of the energy provided by green bananas comes from a form of starch that takes some time to digest. This means green bananas release their energy content quite slowly and makes them an ideal choice for supplying an ongoing supply of energy to fuel extended sports or training sessions. As bananas ripen, however, the starch is converted to simple sugars that are digested quite quickly; so a nice, ripe banana is ideal for situations where the body’s energy stores are depleted and some instant energy is required.
Use them in a sandwich made with white bread (for some quick fix energy) or use wholemeal bread to provide longer lasting energy.
2. Pumpkin seeds are a good source of protein and are high in fiber, healthy fats, and numerous other nutrients that promote good health. Pumpkin seeds are a good energy provider as well. Just 100g of pumpkin seed provides almost as many calories as two Mars bars. The seeds are also a potent source of magnesium—a mineral the body uses to manufacture adenosine triphosphate (ATP). ATP is important for transferring energy from one cell to another so a handful of pumpkin seeds doesn’t just help supply some raw energy, it can also ensure the body makes the best use of the energy that is available to it.
Pumpkin seeds can be purchased from most health food shops and some supermarkets. They can be eaten as a snack, but some stores also stock rye-based crispbread, that has been enhanced with pumpkin seeds, and tastes pretty good with some jam or slices of fruit.
3. Wholemeal bread is high in fiber and is a good source of complex carbohydrates, but its sugar content is quite low (6%) so eating a slice or two of wholemeal toast or a sandwich made with wholemeal bread can be an effective way to get the body charged up and ready to go. Unlike white bread, wholemeal bread releases its calories quite slowly, so although white bread can jump-start the body with some fast energy, wholemeal bread releases its energy as a trickle that will keep the body going for much longer.
Toast it and eat it with some fresh jam at breakfast, or use it to make a tuna sandwich for lunch and power up your day.
4. Sauerkraut – “Sauerkraut” sounds a little more appetizing than “sour cabbage”, but if you translate from the German that’s what you get. If you eat a little sauerkraut though, what you get is plenty of fiber and other nutrients. It’s low in sugar (1.8%), but don’t let that fool you; it’s a good source of carbohydrate so sauerkraut is good for providing energy. It is also high in probiotics that can improve gut health and ensure food is digested more efficiently. This helps the body get the most from its food so less nutrients and energy are wasted. It also means less energy is required to fuel the digestive process. The body can then put that energy to better uses elsewhere.
Saurkraut can be found on the shelves of most health food stores, in many specialist European food stores, and in some of the larger supermarkets. Eat it as is or use it to complement another food, it’s all good.
5. Soybeans. Most people are aware that soybeans are high in protein, but nutritionally they have so much more to offer. They are high in fiber and provide a decent amount of carbohydrate. Soybeans are also rich in B vitamins. These are known to be important for an efficient metabolism and assisting the conversion of carbohydrate into glucose. Soybeans contain copper and phosphorous as well, both of which also aid the conversion process.
It’s possible buy dried soybeans, but the canned variety are cooked and ready to go so it’s an easy matter to toss a few into a salad or stew.
6. Goji Berries. Want to add a little extra go to your day? Try a few goji berries. Chinese herbalists swear by them, and rest of the world has finally caught on, so many supermarkets now carry stocks of these little red wonders and some may even stock goji berry juice—quick to use and gets to work fast. One two-week study (published in the Journal of Alternative and Complimentary Medicine) indicated drinking goji juice can not only boost energy levels, but also improve mental acuity, calm the mind and improve the regularity of gastrointestinal functions.
Drink it as a juice or just snack on a handful of berries whenever energy levels are running low.