NAT­U­RAL BOOST­ERS

Tired out? Put the en­ergy balls down and get back to ba­sics

Women's Health (UK) - - CONTENTS - words RACHEL MELTZER

Get­ting to that point where ev­ery day feels like a Mon­day is never ideal. Es­pe­cially if you feel like you’re tick­ing all the right boxes – get­ting (al­most) eight hours a night, clock­ing up reg­u­lar ex­er­cise, not try­ing to cross 24 things off your scrib­bled-on-the-backof-a-re­ceipt to-do list at any given time. But of­ten the key to achiev­ing op­ti­mum en­ergy is what you put on your plate. And re­search* shows that 75% of us are des­per­ately seek­ing food so­lu­tions that de­liver a cer­tain amount of perk to carry you through the day. ‘Most of the re­ally great en­ergy foods aren’t mar­keted that way,’ says sports di­eti­tian Lauren An­tonucci. ‘Some of the best choices are whole foods that are nat­u­rally high in nu­tri­ents like iron, pro­tein and es­sen­tial fatty acids,’ she adds. So we’ve sourced seven of the most highly charged foods and thrown in some serv­ing sug­ges­tions to help you re­ally reap their ben­e­fits.

WATERMELON

This ex­plains why Baby didn’t break a sweat over that Dirty

Danc­ing lift, as­sum­ing she ate that watermelon af­ter she car­ried it. At 93% H2O, this juicy orb is the fruit equiv­a­lent of an IV drip. ‘Most peo­ple don’t re­alise that wa­ter-rich foods can con­trib­ute up to

20% of your fluid needs for the day,’ says An­tonucci. Worth not­ing be­cause, ac­cord­ing to re­search in the Jour­nal Of

Nu­tri­tion, even a mild case of de­hy­dra­tion can leave you feel­ing fa­tigued – wa­ter is needed to sus­tain al­most all of your bod­ily func­tions. A 230g serv­ing of cubed melon is as hy­drat­ing as a 225ml glass of wa­ter and comes with a healthy dose of en­er­gis­ing vi­ta­mins A, B6 and C.

GRUB’S UP Toss cubes with feta, olive oil, lime juice and chopped fresh mint leaves.

RAISINS

A true ex­am­ple of the ar­gu­ment that big things come in small pack­ages

(you know, those tiny red boxes with sun­shine on the front), this dried fruit is way more than a sticky-fin­ger play­ground snack. ‘Ath­letes like raisins for their quick hit of carbs and elec­trolytes,’ says sports di­eti­tian Tara Gidus Colling­wood. One study* found that raisins were just as ef­fec­tive at keep­ing run­ners’ stamina up as car­bo­hy­drate­based snacks de­signed for en­durance, with both shav­ing a full minute off a 5km race time. One small hand­ful (or 27g, if you want to be pre­cise about it) is all you need.

GRUB’S UP Short of snack­ing on them straight, throw a few into your morn­ing por­ridge or add them to home­made muesli. ‘The carbs in raisins will in­vig­o­rate you in­stantly,’ says Colling­wood. ‘Pair them with nuts, which have fat, pro­tein and fi­bre to keep you tick­ing over in the long term.’

AL­MONDS

Crunch them, grind them, erm, milk them? Doesn’t mat­ter – just make sure you get a load of th­ese mag­ne­sium-rich nuts. It’s the nu­tri­ent used by the body to make adeno­sine triphos­phate – the molecule that trans­ports en­ergy be­tween cells – and is also proven to im­prove sleep. Luck­ily, al­monds are an ex­cel­lent source, with a 30g serv­ing pro­vid­ing 21% of your RDA – plus B vi­ta­mins like fo­late and ri­boflavin, which help you con­vert calo­ries into fuel. Got an al­lergy? Try pump­kin seeds in­stead.

GRUB’S UP Snack­ing on nuts is an ob­vi­ous strat­egy, but the high calo­rie and fat con­tent mean mod­er­a­tion is a good idea. Try us­ing al­mond flour (made from ground al­monds) in place of bread­crumbs or in bak­ing recipes.

EDAMAME

Sushi’s long-time lunch­break part­ner, th­ese beans have com­pleted their tran­si­tion from niche in­gre­di­ent to snack sta­ple, which is more than handy be­cause they’re packed with fo­late, a B vi­ta­min that plays a cru­cial role in turn­ing food into en­ergy. Get through a cup of them (around 150g, shelled) and that’s a full day’s worth of the vi­ta­min, plus mag­ne­sium and ri­boflavin, which both pro­vide ex­tra pep.

GRUB’S UP Steam the beans in the pod then sprin­kle with chilli pow­der and lime salt, or toss through cau­li­flower rice.

CHIA SEEDS

They get ev­ery­where – un­der your fin­ger­nails, be­tween your teeth, in ev­ery crevice of your kitchen work­top – but they’re so worth it. There’s a rea­son why the Aztecs and Mayans mixed chia into their drinks be­fore long-dis­tance runs, you know. A study* found that a DIY chia sports drink fu­elled work­outs of more than 90 min­utes just as well as a store-bought sports drink – sans the su­gar. Why? Each seed con­tains a dense blend of pro­tein, fi­bre and en­er­gyrevving mag­ne­sium and iron to pro­pel you for­wards.

AL­MONDS ARE AN EX­CEL­LENT SOURCE OF MAG­NE­SIUM

GRUB’S UP Mix 2 tbsp chia seeds with 470ml wa­ter, the juice of half a lemon or lime, and 1 tbsp honey or maple syrup. Re­frig­er­ate for two hours, then stir. Or, you know, mix the seeds into yo­ghurt.

SAR­DINES

Who gave baked beans the mo­nop­oly on top­ping toast? Swap for th­ese fishies stat. They’re a su­per source of iron, which is cru­cial for trans­port­ing oxy­gen – fuel for your mus­cles – around the body. Re­search* shows that women who have low stores of iron, even if the lev­els aren’t low enough for an anaemia di­ag­no­sis, have less en­ergy and en­durance than those with nor­mal lev­els.

GRUB’S UP Stick ’em on a slab of sour­dough. Taste buds de­sir­ing some­thing more high­brow? Mix them, chopped, through cooked pasta, roasted cau­li­flower flo­rets, chilli flakes and olive oil.

STRAW­BER­RIES

Or­anges may get all the glory when it comes to vi­ta­min C, but straw­ber­ries are a su­pe­rior source. If fresh ones are hard to come by, give frozen a go. Ac­cord­ing to a study*, test sub­jects dos­ing daily on vi­ta­min C felt less tired af­ter a 60-minute tread­mill walk than those who weren’t be­ing sup­ple­mented. ‘Foods with vi­ta­min C also help your body ab­sorb more fa­tigue-fight­ing iron,’ says Colling­wood. Just 150g of straw­ber­ries will de­liver 88mg of vi­ta­min C, mean­ing you’ll smash your daily 40mg re­quire­ment (you’d need to eat around one and a half or­anges to get the same amount).

GRUB’S UP Top a spinach salad with sliced straw­ber­ries to reap the ben­e­fits of vi­ta­min C and the iron from the leafy greens. You’ll be un­stop­pable.

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