Top 10 energy foods

Do you suffer from a daily four o'clock energy dip? Have these energy-boosting foods to stay charged all day long


With a proliferation of processed and junk foods, it has become common to feel deprived of energy in spite of having regular meals. Much of the so-called modern diet is loaded with toxic preservatives, excess sugar/salt and a variety of other stuff that harm more than help.  Here we list 10 energy foods that, if included in your regular diet, will help you stay full of vitality.

1. Oats

Oats with pieces of bananaHalf a cup of oats provides 15g of carbohydrates. Being complex carbohydrates, oats break down into glucose gradually releasing energy over time. Oats are also a good source of fibre [approximately 4g per half cup serving].

Fibre creates bulk in your stomach, which helps keep you satiated and full. Cook 30g raw oats in approximately 200ml fat-free or low fat milk for a power-packed start to your day.

2. Lentils

Various lentilsThis group includes all dals [moong, masoor, toor] and beans [rajma, chole, black-eyed peas]. Lentils are a good combination of carbohydrates, which provide energy for your brain, and protein, needed to build muscles. Approximately one cup [200g] provides almost 40 per cent daily recommended intake of iron.

Lentils also are high in fibre that keeps you feeling full and does not allow blood sugar levels to spike to high levels. Give your lunch salad a boost by adding a cup of cooked red kidney beans [rajma] or garbanzo beans [chole] to it!

3. Bananas

A bunch of bananasA great post-workout recovery food, banana is a simple carbohydrate—an instant source of energy. Bananas are also a good source of potassium—low levels of potassium in the body have shown to cause fatigue. Keep an elaichi banana in your gym bag to help replenish the energy stores in your muscles that you burn during exercise.

4. Dried figs [Anjeer]

Dried FigsDynamite comes in small packages they say. It holds true for these little rings of dried fruit. Dried anjeer packs in a whole lot of energy. It is an excellent source of simple carbohydrates and therefore provides an immediate source of energy.

It is also a good source of iron—anjeer absorbs this from the iron plates on which it is dried. Dried anjeer is also a good source of fibre. Keep a jar of dried anjeer on your desk and the next time you feel that mid-morning energy crash, reach for two pieces of it instead of that third cup of coffee.

5. Beets

BeetrootThe corner sandwich-stall guy has it right when he adds slices of bright purple beetroot to the grilled sandwich we snack on. Beets are a rich source of iron, vitamin C, and potassium—the powerhouse triad of vitamins and minerals. Try adding 2 – 3 slices of beetroot to your raita to give the yogurt an extra dose of oomph!

6. Green vegetables

Green VeggiesSpinach, methi, chauli, green beans, broad beans, lady fingers [bhindi]—load up on this vitamin and mineral-packed food group. Make roasted methi parathas for breakfast, add spinach leaves to your salads, and pack your sambars and kadhi with beans and bhindi.

7. Almonds

AlmondsThe six soaked almonds your mother would give you every morning during exam time should continue even today. Almonds are a good source of magnesium, a mineral that plays a major role in energy production in body cells.

About 30g almonds contain approximately 77mg of magnesium, which is 25 per cent of Recommended Daily Allowance [RDA] of magnesium. About 30g almonds provide 10 per cent of the RDA for both potassium and iron. Add some chopped, roasted almonds to your brown rice for a crunchy burst of energy.

8. Brown rice

top-10-energy-foods-8-nThough brown rice and white rice have similar amounts of calories, carbohydrates, fat, and protein, several vitamins and minerals get lost in the polishing process of white rice, making brown rice a better source of vitamin B3 [niacin] and iron.

Vitamin B3 plays an important role in the conversion of food to energy. Although some of these vitamins and minerals are added back to white rice, magnesium is not. A cup [195g] of cooked brown rice contains 84mg of magnesium whereas one cup of white rice contains only 19mg.

9. Honey

Jar of honeyPass on the sugar and honey to your tea. Though both sugar and honey are simple carbohydrates, sugar contains no nutritional value other than calories. Honey contains iron and vitamin C as well as several other vitamins. Join the sugar-free movement and switch to a teaspoon of honey for that little bit of sweetness we all need in life.

10. Water

top-10-energy-foods-10-nYour body should consistently be 75 per cent water. Dehydration can lead to fatigue and lack of concentration. Keep a bottle of water on your desk and bedside table at all times. Drink enough water; your urine should be pale yellow—not clear or dark yellow, but pale yellow. Stick to this refreshing, thirst-quenching beverage even when you go out to eat.

Keep these foods handy and be healthy, happy, and get through the day without that 4 o’clock energy slump!

A version of this was first published in the February 2009 issue of Complete Wellbeing.

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Radhika Karle-Ghorpade
Radhika Karle-Ghorpade is a Mumbai-based dietician with a Masters degree from Texas Women's University, Houston. She is a certified Yoga and Pilates instructor as well as a personal trainer. She loves to swim, play tennis, and travel in her free time. Her nutrition mantra: everything in moderation.



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