Do you grab a green juice or superfood snack after working out because it’s trendy or has become a healthy habit? Chances are, you already know what you eat has a massive impact on your energy levels, even if you’re not an expert on the science of why. Neka Pasquale, founder of Bay Area-based healthy food chain Urban Remedy, reminds us that food can and should be used as fuel to power us up each day. “When we eat foods that promote inflammation, our bodies are taxed to the point of fatigue. This is what causes you to feel tired, sluggish, or bloated — it might even be the reason why you feel like you need a big cup of coffee or caffeine boost to get through the day.”
According to Pasquale, who has seen major success with her company by helping people eat and live healthier, chowing down on smaller, plant-based, organic meals is a surefire way to give yourself a boost. Wonder why? These foods are filled with phytochemicals and support vibrant health and higher energy levels. “I believe that a better way to eat for energy is to enjoy plant-based foods that are as close to their natural state as possible,” she explains. “Some of my favorites sources include organic fruits and nuts; superfoods like cacao, hemp, goji berries, and chia; and healthy fats and powerful spices like coconut oil, turmeric, garlic, and ginger.” Pasquale also says to make it a point to reach for vibrant-colored veggies — they’re chock full of powerful antioxidants.
Now that you know which foods belong in your shopping cart and on the table, what should you avoid? Pasquale cautions against sugar and processed foods. “Cut foods that contain the whites (white flour, sugar, potatoes), high-fructose corn syrup, and omega-6 oils (soybean, corn, and sunflower oils). Do your best to ditch foods with preservatives, GMOs, processed meats, and sugar-rich drinks, such as soda or highly sweetened coffee drinks,” she advises. You probably already know you feel crappy when you eat them, but did you know that these types of foods can cause free radical damage and stress on your entire nervous system? “Eating low-glycemic foods will clear your mind and help brain function, which will ultimately benefit all aspects of your day,” Pasquale promises.
10 Powerful Food Swaps That’ll Give You Energy
Before you beat yourself up for unhealthy food choices you might’ve made recently, Pasquale says to remember that we’ve all been there. “You can break the cycle by making small strides to stick with a balanced diet that includes fat, protein, and fiber. This kind of eating will ensure you have a constant and even flow of energy throughout the day.” Not sure where to start? Here are Pasquale’s top 10 recommended food swaps:
1. Go for green tea instead of a sugary coffee drink. “Green tea is filled with antioxidants, balances blood sugar, and gives you a nice caffeine boost; coffee drinks are high in calories and sugar, so they give you a quick buzz with a big crash.” We’ll take the tea, thank you.
2. Instead of popcorn, choose a handful of organic nuts. “Popcorn is high on the glycemic index and raises blood sugar levels. Almonds, on the other hand, contain healthy fats, which make you feel satiated and balance blood sugar levels for sustained energy.”
3. Swap fruit juice for green juice. “Fruit juice can raise blood sugar levels, while fruit-free green juice will boost your energy without all the sugar. Even more, it has cleansing properties.”
4. Instead of a donut or muffin, treat yourself to avocado toast. “Donuts and muffins are made with refined white flour, which raises blood sugar levels and is usually devoid of nutrients. Avocado toast contains healthy fats, which will keep you feeling full.”
5. Sub zoodles or spaghetti squash for noodles. “Zucchini noodles are very low in calories and carbs, while traditional pasta is high in carbs — this can promote weight gain and bloat when you don’t need the extra energy.”
6. Enjoy plain yogurt with fresh berries instead of sugary yogurts. “A plant-based yogurt with fresh fruit contains healthy fats. Add fresh berries for antioxidants and fiber, which will keep blood sugar balanced.” Think yogurt is just for breakfast? Reconsider it as an afternoon power snack. Yum!
7. Load up on cauliflower, rather than potatoes. “Mashed potatoes are full of carbs and raise blood sugar levels in the body, while cauliflower is super low in carbs and creates a rich, creamy version that still satisfies.” Cauliflower pizza, anyone?
8. Order a veggie burger instead of beef or bison. “Veggie burgers are better for the planet and good for your waistline.”
9. Drink kombucha instead of beer. “Beer can make you feel bloated, while kombucha has beneficial probiotics that support healthy gut function.”
10. Instead of a candy bar, reach for dark chocolate. “Dark chocolate is rich in antioxidants and low in sugar — milk chocolate has less cacao and more sugar.”
Will you try any of Pasquale’s favorite food swaps? Tell us how you feel afterward on Twitter @BritandCo.