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