Food is meant to provide us with not only nutrients but also energy. However, not all foods offer sustained energy, which explains why you feel light-headed a few minutes after eating your favorite sugary breakfast cereal or sluggish after a trip to a fast-food joint.
While our energy levels also depend on a lot of other factors, such as sleep and stress and hydration levels, here are some foods you need to watch out for.
For many, a cup of coffee is a default energy-booster. But the key to reaping coffee’s health benefits, such as antioxidants and a reduced risk of developing Alzheimer’s, is drinking it in moderation.
When consumed in large quantities (more than four cups a day), coffee loses its energy-boosting effects, and you develop caffeine tolerance. Furthermore, too much caffeine can negatively affect the quality of your sleep—which causes reduced energy levels.
2. Energy Drinks
Energy drinks are great for when you need a short-term energy boost. According to studies, energy drinks can provide benefits that go beyond reducing sleepiness, including boosting concentration and memory by about 24%.
However, the regular consumption of this caffeine- and sugar-filled cocktail may lead to reduced energy levels. As previously mentioned, consuming large amounts of caffeine leads to caffeine tolerance and decreased energy.
As for sugar, it causes a spike in energy levels that eventually lead to a sharp drop. This is most commonly known as a “sugar crash,” which makes you feel more tired than you did before downing a can or bottle of energy drink.
3. Low-Calorie Foods
A calorie is a unit of measurement used to estimate how much energy a food will provide your body once it is digested. But, to lose weight, most people will choose low-calorie foods without considering how much energy they need to sustain essential bodily functions, not to mention the energy to have a productive day. Fewer calories mean your food provides less energy, leaving you feeling tired.
In addition, regularly consuming fewer calories than what your body requires creates a hormonal imbalance. It also slows down your metabolism, which can leave you feeling drained.
If you plan on losing weight, consult your doctor or a nutritionist. They can help you determine how many calories you need to function throughout the day while also losing excess weight.
4. Processed Grains
Grains are rich sources of carbs, which provide the body with a good source of energy. However, processed grains—white pasta, white bread, and white rice—may drain your energy levels quickly.
This is because processed grains have less fiber than whole grains. So, the body digests and absorbs processed grains more quickly than whole grains, creating a quick rise in blood sugar and insulin levels, followed by a drop in energy.
5. Added Sugar
As previously mentioned, foods with added sugars can cause a sugar spike, which leads to peaked energy levels, followed by a crash. Many food items that are marketed as healthy are loaded with added sugar. When these foods are regularly consumed, it can take a toll on your energy levels.
Watch out for added sugars in your breakfast cereal, flavored yogurt, granola bars, juices, and muffins. Always check the nutrition information for added sugar and fiber. Choose cereals that contain at least four grams of fiber per serving.
6. Fried and Fast Foods
While fried and fast foods are easier to prepare and consume, they are not the best sources of energy. They are high in fat and low in fiber—a combo that can slow your digestion, which means energy-boosting nutrients enter the body at a reduced speed.
Most important, fried and fast foods are low in vitamins, minerals, and other essential nutrients, which do little to improve your energy levels. And eating these foods frequently can displace crucial nutrients from your diet.
If you’re hoping for a productive day, avoid consuming too many fatty foods. It zaps your energy to do anything for the next couple of hours, and it leaves you feeling sluggish.
What you choose to eat and drink matters because it affects how you feel, as well as how you perform certain tasks. If you are looking for ways to increase your energy levels, it’s best to avoid these foods and beverages. Go for whole and fresh foods, which will give your body the nutrients it needs to help you function better.What do you think of this list of energy-draining foods? Which ones do you have a hard time giving up or consuming in moderation?