With National ‘Cycle to Work’ day being celebrated today, it’s a great time to focus on upping your energy and fuelling your rides.
Whether you’re going to actually cycle to work, or just want to feel more energised for your workouts or in your everyday life, there are some great nutrient-rich foods that can help.
Clinical Nutritionist Suzie Sawyer shares her five top foods for feeling more energised.
Delicious and in-season now, blueberries are going to provide great energy and an excellent start to the day, especially if you’re planning on cycling to work. Blueberries are a low glycaemic fruit, meaning they won’t adversely affect blood sugar balance and you’ll enjoy sustained energy throughout the day.
Blueberries are often referred to as ‘super foods’ because they are packed with nutrients. Importantly, their beautiful rich, dark colour signifies plenty of antioxidants, which help protect the body against the ageing process and degenerative diseases. Why not enjoy some with your breakfast with some natural yoghurt and ground flaxseeds for a perfectly balanced start? Alternatively, they make the perfect accompaniment to oats (my next energy-giving food recommendation).
Another low glycaemic food, partly down to their rich fibre content, oats are loaded with energising B-vitamins. However, look for ‘whole’ oats that have not been refined to gain full benefit. Any refining strips out fibre and nutrients.
Oats contain plenty of trace minerals, especially magnesium which is also needed for energy production. In short, they’re real powerhouses! Oats are great soaked either in some plant or dairy milk and a little apple juice for flavour to make ‘overnight oats’. Take them out of the fridge the next morning, pop on some yoghurt and berries. Either eat before your journey to work or when you arrive, and you’ve got the perfect start to your day.
As with all whole grain foods, brown rice is great for encouraging sustained energy. It’s rich in fibre and high in nutrients, especially those energising B-vitamins. Brown rice has a much higher nutrient profile than white, because it hasn’t undergone any refining process. Furthermore, it can really help on a weight loss journey because it balances blood sugar levels and is very low in fat.
The nutrient content of brown rice is equally as impressive with not only high levels of B-vitamins but a great range of essential trace minerals. Of note is zinc which is needed for over 300 different enzyme reactions in the body to keep it firing on all cylinders. Serve brown rice as an accompaniment to any protein such as fish or chicken or serve cold the next day with plenty of salad vegetables.
Bananas are many people’s ‘go-to’ when it comes to the need for quick energy. Although high in complex carbs, the riper bananas have a higher sugar content, delivering a fast-release boost, hence they are popular with sportspeople.
Bananas are especially high in vitamin B6, much utilised for energy release but they also contain loads of potassium which is great for the heart. As they are high in starchy carbs, bananas will keep you going all day and will also help you burn up those hills if some happen to be on your cycle route to work.
Sweet potatoes have a much higher nutrient profile than traditional white potatoes. That’s not to dismiss white potatoes from the diet as they still have a place, but sweet potatoes have the edge when it comes to delivering sustained energy.
It’s all down to the complex carbs which keep blood sugar in balance and energy buzzing. Furthermore, sweet potatoes are rich in beta carotene, which is turned into vitamin A in the body, essential for immune health.
You can eat sweet potatoes in the same way as white potatoes; mashed, chipped, jacketed, take your pick, and enjoy with a topping or foods of your choice.
So, whether you’re cycling to work or just want more energy, add these five foods into your diet and feel your energy soar!
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