The Energy Diet
We all know better, but sometimes when we’re in the grip of an afternoon energy slump, feeling weak and foggy, we reach for cookies, candy, and coffee for a quick fatigue fix. Sure, we get the fix but it sets us up for a vicious cycle of highs and lows that eventually leaves us with less energy than we started out with, says John Douillard, M.D., author of The 3-Season Diet (Three Rivers Press, 2001).
We crave caffeine and sugar, he says, when we’re not getting what we need from ‘real’ food. And the types of real food we need depend upon the time of year and the individual, says Douillard, who subscribes to the principles of Ayurveda—the ancient Indian healing practice. In early spring, Douillard recommends the calming energy found in lower-fat foods like citrus fruits and cruciferous vegetables and those that help stabilize blood sugar, like bitter leafy greens and brown rice.
During your next energy crisis, forego the quick fixes and choose one of the ten foods we suggest for a real and lasting boost.
1. Broccoli Loaded with nutrients, broccoli offers a huge dose of vitamin C—which has been shown to reduce fatigue by increasing iron absorption—and is a good source of non-dairy calcium. Vitamin C can also keep your adrenal system running strong, which helps stabilize your energy through stressful situations.
2. Brown Rice A high-fiber complex carbohydrate that’s packed with manganese, amino acids, and magnesium (important in many cellular functions including energy production), brown rice provides a complete meal when paired with lean protein like tofu, fish, or chicken.
3. Eggs Very high in protein and choline, which is vital to brain functions like memory, eggs also contain tyrosine, an amino acid that helps your brain produce the chemicals norepinephrine and dopamine, which improve your mental function and keep you feeling energetic.
4. Green Tea For calm, alert energy, sip on green tea. The small amounts of caffeine (30 micrograms) and theanine, an amino acid that stimulates GABA (the calming molecule in brain receptors), produce feelings of relaxation, as well as improve cognition and mood. Green tea also stimulates your metabolism, which may make weight loss easier.