High Energy Foods for when You’re in a Pinch
Have you ever heard the saying, “You are what you eat?”
Well, guess what? It’s true. When you feel sluggish in the middle of the day, it’s because of your diet.
If you want more energy, you’re going to have to change your diet. After all, your body is your temple and food is your fuel.
Can a car run on empty? Nope. And neither can your body.
The digestive system converts food into energy to help the body do all of the things that it needs to do, like move and work the brain and other organs. However, after the body has gotten what it needs to complete those functions, any remaining surplus is stored as body fat.
Now you’re probably saying to yourself, “So, what does this mean?” If you eat more food than you actually need, you’re going to start seeing the pounds stack up.
The allure of calorie-dense foods
It can be hard to avoid junk food, but keep in mind; they call it junk for a reason. Calorically-dense foods like candy bars, pizza, pasta, bagels and muffins are high in calories, but also low in nutrients. Have you ever eaten one-or-two candy bars to give yourself more energy in the middle of the day? Did it help for a little bit only to make you crash hours later? That’s because it doesn’t have enough nutrients to sustain you.
When we eat these kinds of food, it causes a spike in our blood sugar which causes insulin to be released, which then causes our blood sugar to take a dive. The cycle continues when our blood sugar is low because our body naturally tries to raise it; therefore, we crave carbohydrates, often in the form of highly-caloric, low-nutrient options like the candy bar, potato chips, muffin, etc.
How to break the cycle
Planning ahead is always important. Pack a lunch if you know you’re going to be gone for a long time. This will help you avoid temptation so you won’t be tempted to go thru McDonalds when you’re starving and crunched for time.
We usually gravitate toward those foods when we’re in a pinch for time, but here are some healthy options when you're racing against the clock.
What should your lunch or snack include?
Your lunch should include protein, so a cup of low-fat cottage cheese or Greek yogurt is a good option. You could also pack a whole-wheat tortilla filled with chicken breast, turkey or tuna topped with as many vegetables as you’d like, low-fat cheese and your favorite low-fat dressing. Fresh fruit is always an easy on-the-go option. Even fresh fruit with peanut butter is okay as a delicious indulgence.
If you’re just looking for snacks on the go, you could try a homemade trail mix with a mix of almonds and pistachios for a tasty mix of healthy fats and proteins. And you could also mix in some dried fruit (the no sugar added option is best). If you need something sweet to satisfy your taste buds, you could do a few small morsels of dark chocolate too.
The trail mix would also be a great topper for your Greek yogurt.
What if you’re stuck without any options?
If you need something in a pinch, your local grocery store’s deli or hot food bar are some good choices to keep in mind. However, with the hot food bar, you’re going to want to steer clear of fried and fatty foods.
A protein bar can be a good option for an on-the-go snack. The protein bar should have 10-15 grams of protein, 100-150 calories and less than 10 grams of carbohydrates. The benefit here is that most gas stations carry a wide variety of acceptable protein bar choices.
And if you absolutely have to grab some fast food, choose a place like Subway or Pita Pit, but be sure to avoid high-fat meats like salami and bacon. Also, be mindful of the type and amount of dressing you choose. Feel free to load up with as many vegetable toppings though. But if you’re watching out for sodium, keep an eye out for olives, banana peppers and ham.