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Top 5 Foods for Boosting Energy

Posted 1/21/2016 by UHBlog

When you need a mid-afternoon energy boost to get through the rest of the day, do you know which snacks or beverages are more effective – and healthy – than others? Ask us.

Top 10 Foods for Boosting Energy

Quick – what fix comes to mind when you find yourself dozing at your desk? Traditionally, coffee has been the automatic answer for most people. Lately, energy drinks have also become increasingly popular.

“Caffeine will in fact boost energy because it is a stimulant,” says registered dietitian nutritionist Amy Jamieson-Petonic. “But I definitely don’t recommend energy drinks – partly because there is no way of knowing what, or how much, energy-boosting products are put into them.

“Energy drinks can cause rapid heart rate, increased blood pressure, anxiety and jitteriness,” she says. “And unfortunately, in extreme cases, they have contributed to the loss of life as well. Almost 100 cases of deaths related to energy drinks have been reported.”

There are some more natural ways to get a healthy energy boost, Jamieson-Petonic says.

“Basically, you want to choose foods that contain carbohydrates, which is the body’s preferred source of energy,” she says. “Diabetics will want to stay away from the refined carbohydrates that can bottom out the blood sugar. Instead, they should focus on whole grains, which provide energy. But because they are high in fiber, whole grains will slow down the absorption of glucose into the blood stream and bring it back down gradually, eliminating the peaks and valleys that diabetics need to avoid.”

If you want a healthy energy boost, Jamieson-Petonic recommends her top five types of food, including:

  1. Whole grains – Good choices are:
    • 100 percent brown whole wheat pasta
    • 100 percent whole grain brown rice
    • 100 percent whole grain bread
    • Legumes, like beans or lentils
  2. Fruit – “Fruit, such as apples, provides complex carbohydrates along with dietary fiber and antioxidants,” Jamieson-Petonic says. “It’s a good way to go.”
  3. Low-fat dairy products – Consider foods such as egg yolks, which Jamieson-Petonic says are particularly good for converting food into energy.
  4. Green tea – “Green tea contains caffeine, as well as epigallocatechin gallate – or EGCG – which also helps to burn a small number of calories,” she says. “And who can’t use that?”
  5. Capsaicin – This is the active component of chili peppers, which boosts metabolism because it tends to slightly increase the body temperature.

Getting back to the old standby, coffee. According to Jamieson-Petonic, there is nothing wrong with sipping an aromatic cup of java.

“You have to keep in mind, however, that if you consume a large amount of coffee in the afternoon or evening, it can lead to the inability to sleep later in the day,” she says.

Amy Jamieson-Petonic, M.Ed., RDN, CSSD, LD is a registered dietitian nutritionist at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center. You can request an appointment with Jamieson-Petonic or any other University Hospitals health care professional online.

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