All of us want more energy. You know, that springy feeling when you wake up early in the morning buzzing. Super motivated and pumped for the day. Clear headed, happy, and ready to tick off that to do list like a boss. Powering through the day and getting to the afternoon to kick that slump to the curve and lunge into the night.
Endless energy would just make life so much fricking easier right?
Think about all those times you could of got shit done, but that fatigued feeling sent you into a netflix binge instead.
Ever wondered what might be causing your lack of energy? Or those afternoon energy slumps?
Have you considered your diet?
What you eat, or more so importantly, what you don't eat, might be to blame for your low energy....
Heard of the Standard Western diet?
It's the typical diet, followed by the average person living in Australia, America, and other Western Countries.
And unfortunately, it's characterised by a heap of processed foods, particularly those that are full of high G.I carbohydrates, sugars, salts and saturated fats. Think white breads, majority of breakfast cereals, pastries, pizza, jams, chips, bickies, soft drinks, white potato and the list goes on.
Now when these high G.I processed foods are eaten, they cause spikes and then rapid declines in your blood glucose levels.
Glucose is the primary source of energy or fuel in your body.
Rapid spikes and rapid declines in blood glucose levels give us bursts of energy, followed shortly by very low energy and feelings of tiredness.
These bursts then energy slumps often result in us searching for our next high G.I hit, and the cycle goes on and on.
In contrast to the typical Western diet, a plant-based diet is founded on a variety of wholefoods that contain unprocessed sources of carbohydrates, proteins, and healthy fats.
When eaten, these unprocessed foods result in a sustained release of longer lasting energy. This is because plant-based foods are high in fibre and their carbohydrates have a low G.I.
Low G.I Carbohydrates = Foods that digest more slowly, release glucose more gradually into your bloodstream, and result in longer lasting energy.
Further to this, plant-based foods contain an abundance of micronutrients that are essential for energy production. For example:
Riboflavin - A 'B vitamin', found in almonds, soy foods (e.g. tempeh/tofu), grains, and spinach, helps your cells extract energy from glucose, fatty acids and amino acids.
Folate - Another B Vitamin, found in dark green leafy vegetables, wholegrains, fruits, nuts and legumes, is essential for the formation of red blood cells. Red blood cells transport oxygen around your body, which is fundamental for energy production. Low folate intake results in anemia, which causes fatigue and tiredness.
Magnesium - A very important mineral that binds to ATP, our main source of energy, making it biologically active. This means it allows our cells to actually use the energy that is being produced. Plant foods rich in magnesium include seeds, nuts, legumes and green veggies.
Iron - An important mineral that is involved in a number of bodily functions, including the transport of oxygen in the body. Iron is essential in providing energy for daily life. If you are deficient in iron, you may experience fatigue, tiredness and impaired immunity. Groups at risk of iron deficiency include menstruating women, pregnant and lactating women, babies and toddlers, teenage girls and female athletes. Vegetarians and Vegans may also be at risk. Plant based food sources of iron include tofu, legumes, nuts, seeds, green veggies and whole grains.
Vitamin B12 - Found only in animal based foods or fortified products, Vitamin B12 plays a role in red blood cell formation, as well as the breaking down of some fatty acids and amino acids to produce energy. Like most vitamins, B12 can’t be made by the body, and so must be obtained through foods. Symptoms of low B12 include fatigue and tiredness, poor appetite, weight loss, depression and memory loss. Plant-based food sources of B12 include fortified plant-milks (e.g. soy milk), salt-reduced vegemite and fortified tofu.
One of the best snacks for energy - Bananas are possibly one of your best foods for more energy. These guys are great sources of low G.I carbohydrates, potassium and B6, all of which increase energy levels. For more on bananas, click here.
In a nut shell
Plant-based foods contain low G.I carbohydrates that deliver longer lasting energy, as well as an abundance of micronutrients, including many B vitamins and magnesium, that are essential for energy production and energy utilization.
Eat more plants. Eat a variety of plants. Get more energy.