If you’re struggling to stay awake at your desk by the time the afternoon rolls around, it’s time to re-think your diet. To maintain your stamina throughout a busy workday, you’ll need smart foods for lots of energy.
Small changes to what you’re eating might make all the difference, since a variety of well-balanced foods can stabilize your blood sugar and iron levels to prevent a mid-day lag.
“Eating a combination of protein, fat and healthy natural carbs helps maintain energy via vitamins and minerals,” says Valerie Goldstein, M.S., R.D., director of nutrition at the Center for Balanced Health.
That’s the reason you feel depleted when you’re running on high-calorie, low-nutrient foods. “The crash is the end result of a domino effect when we are eating less than optimal nutrients,” Goldstein says. “It’s important to provide yourself with good fuel that your body can use all day long.”
Here are the eight surprising foods that will keep you running steady.
Seaweed is packed with the energy-producing mineral, iodine.
“Iodine helps create energy through its biochemical reactions and its role with the thyroid hormones,” says Goldstein. Try noshing on seaweed snacks throughout the day.
Almonds contain the vitamin B7, commonly known as biotin, which “helps your body convert food into energy,” Goldstein notes. Biotin aids in the metabolism of carbs, fats, and protein, she adds.
Grabbing a handful of almonds for an afternoon snack will put some pep in your step.
Lean beef is a prime source of iron and keeps fatigue-causing anemia at bay. “Your body uses iron to hold on to oxygen in your blood and transport it to your tissues. At the cellular level, iron is used then to make energy,” says Goldstein.
One serving of beef contains roughly 12 percent of your daily requirement.
Dried oatmeal can be a great addition to yogurt or simply prepared in a bowl by itself. It’s a natural carbohydrate that contains three energy-boosting staples: calcium, fiber, and protein. One serving can quell hunger and fill you up for hours.
Mussels are packed with the energy-producing vitamin, B12. Just 3 (oz) s of mussels provide more than 100 percent of your daily requirement. Because B12 plays a key role in your body’s nervous system and metabolic process, it’s an important part of a regularly balanced diet.
“B12 is required for energy metabolism and the body cannot create on its own,” Goldstein says. “That vitamin is essential for turning the food we eat into energy.”
Eggs provide basic nutrition staples such as protein, iodine, vitamins B6 and B12. Goldstein suggests skipping a second cup of coffee and instead opting for a serving of eggs. They’re a great way to build energy while getting an adequate serving of protein.
Chomp on some chicken for an extra shot of CoQ10, a coenzyme that is needed to help facilitate 95 percent of the human body’s energy. It’s also needed for healthy organs, being most crucial to organs with the highest energy requirements, including your heart, liver, and kidney.
“CoQ10 plays a vital role in the process of cellular energy creation,” Goldstein says.
As your age, your body produces less amounts of CoQ10, so it’s important to incorporate it in your daily diet. A 3 oz serving of chicken has 1.4 milligrams, which will help move you towards your daily goal of at least 30 milligrams.
One cup of raw spinach is loaded with magnesium, a mineral necessary for our bodies in the energy process, Goldstein notes. Popeye was right about this green vegetable, but instead of canned spinach try organic.