It’s really important that we fuel our bodies in a healthy way, boosting our mood and energy naturally, rather than turning to caffeine and sugar-filled snacks. While these boxed treats might give you a temporary hit, they won’t do your body any good in the long run; they will only slow you down and leave you even more tired!
The next time you feel that pesky afternoon slump coming on, have some of these energy-boosting foods on hand (or mix them into your meals for lunchtime leftovers) and see for yourself just how well they help get you through the rest of your day.
Studies show that nitrates in beets help blood vessels dilate while in a natural state, which increases oxygen delivery to working muscles. Beets are high in immune-boosting vitamin C, fiber, and essential minerals like potassium (essential for healthy nerve and muscle function) and manganese (which is good for your bones, liver, kidneys, and pancreas).
An apple a day keeps you going, going, going. Quercetin, a potent antioxidant in apples, can improve your endurance. These red, round delicious beauties hydrate, give a little sugar jolt, and clean your teeth. They are also a great source of vitamin C and contain fiber, which can help hold you over until after you've finished holding tree pose.
Grab a handful of almonds before class to help boost your energy and stave off hunger. Almonds contain vitamin E, potassium, and magnesium, which means you'll have plenty of stamina to stay in boat pose (just be sure to eat them plain and unsalted to maximize their energizing benefits). Almonds, and other nuts, are great for on-the-go snacks, especially when paired with a fruit or veggie.
Quinoa has quickly become one of the world’s most popular superfoods. This whole grain is chock-full of energizing complex carbohydrates and magnesium, an essential mineral for energy metabolism. Quinoa is one of the most protein-rich foods we can eat, and is a complete protein containing all nine essential amino acids. Cook some up and toss it in your next salad, or have it as a side dish.
Lentils are also a great source of folate and magnesium, which are big contributors to heart health. Lentils increase steady, slow-burning energy due their high levels of fiber and complex carbohydrates. Lentils are also a good source of iron, which transports oxygen throughout your body, and is a key player in energy production and metabolism.
Sweet potatoes have a high carbohydrate content, making it a natural energy provider for long workouts. Plus, the sweet flesh is rich in immunity-boosting Vitamin A. They also make a tasty treat when turned into fries! (But you didn’t hear that from us).
Food can help stabilize your energy levels before and after a workout. For post-workout recovery, yogurt is stellar fuel with its optimum balance of protein and carbohydrates, and will give you the energy you need before a sweat session. Choose plain Greek yogurt for more protein and no processed sugar; the lactose in yogurt is a naturally occurring sugar that will give you sustained energy. As long as you don't have any problems digesting dairy, a little yogurt can make a good pre-yoga snack option.
TIPS ON CHOOSING THE BEST PRE-YOGA EATS:
Digestion is an important part of our health and affects how we feel on so many levels, so it’s important to eat to support our digestion, especially before we head off to exercise. Yoga involves lots of turns and twists, so you’ll need to be sure that your pre-workout eats don’t leave you bloated, light-headed, or in a food-coma. You also shouldn’t head off to yoga class without eating, since that disrupts your blood sugar levels and can lower your metabolism, which leads to muscle loss (over time).
By Vanessa Kump, Inner Fire Luminary