The foods you eat can directly affect your energy and mood. Changing the foods in your diet can alter your metabolism and brain chemistry, which ultimately affects your energy levels and mood.
Food can boost energy by providing sufficient calories, by using stimulants like caffeine, and by raising your metabolism to burn fuel more efficiently. To keep your moods in check, choose foods that will stabilize your blood sugar and raise those feel-good brain chemicals.
1) Carbohydrates: The body’s preferred source of energy. Carbs will also raise your levels of serotonin, a feel-good brain chemical. The key is to avoid the sugary sweets, which will cause blood sugar to rise and fall, leading to dreaded sugar “crash”. Choose whole-grain, low glycemic index foods, which will keep blood sugar and energy levels stable.
2) Cashews/Almonds/Hazelnuts: These are rich in protein and they also contain magnesium, which is essential in converting sugar into energy. Research suggests magnesium deficiency can drain your energy. Magnesium is also found in whole grains, particularly bran cereals, and in some types of fish, including halibut.
3) Brazil Nuts: Add Brazil nuts for a helpful dose of selenium, which may be a natural mood booster. Studies have reported a link between low selenium and poorer moods. This mineral also occurs in smaller amounts in meats, seafood, beans, and whole grains.
4) Salmon: Fatty fish, such as salmon, is rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Studies suggest this substance may protect against depression. Besides fish, sources of omega-3 include flax seed, nuts and leafy, dark green vegetables.
5) Leafy Greens: These contain folate, a nutrient that may reduce the risk of depression. Folate is found in leafy green vegetables, including spinach and romaine lettuce. Legumes, nuts, and citrus fruits are also good sources of folate.
6) Water: Dehydration and fatigue go hand-in-hand. Even mild dehydration can slow the metabolism and sap your energy. Drink plenty of water or other unsweetened beverages at regular intervals.
7) Fresh Produce: Eat fluid-filled foods, such as fresh fruits and vegetables.
8) Coffee: Coffee may be one of the world’s most popular pick-me-ups. Caffeine steps up the body’s metabolism, temporarily improving mental focus and energy. Frequent small servings will keep you alert and focused longer than a single super-sized one. However, beware of drinking so much coffee that you can’t sleep at night. Lack of sleep is an obvious energy-buster!
9) Dark Chocolate: An ounce of dark chocolate can boost both energy and mood. Caffeine is at work again, along with another stimulant called theobromine.
10) Frequent Meals: Eat small meals and snacks every three to four hours, rather than a few large meals. This is an essential strategy for stabilizing blood sugar, energy levels, and mood.