Is Your Food Zapping Your Energy?

From rice and pasta to coffee, some of the foods and beverages we consume on a daily basis are actually making us tired, listless and completely drained of energy.Health takes a closer look at some of these culprits and instead shows you energy boosting alternatives to bring the pep back into your life.

Food items and energy

Whether we eat a juicy burger and fries, an innocuous sandwich or a simple rice and curry lunch, energy slumps can interfere with work productivity and can even be dangerous in the case of driving and falling asleep behind the wheel of the car. According to Lovely Ranganath, Senior Nutritionist at Health trendz meal delivery in Dubai, if you want to maximize your energy, the nutritional message is simple; “Eat slow releasing carbohydrates, ensure you have adequate intake of all essential nutrients, and avoid stimulants and depressants,” she says. “Also consume more fresh fruits, vegetables, and add fiber rich complex carbohydrates such as brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat, lean protein choices like fish, nuts, as well as plenty of water; all which are highly recommended.”


Turkey contains an amino acid called tryptophan, which promotes the production of serotonin, according to the University of Illinois, and serotonin triggers the production of melatonin. Turkey is great for a bedtime snack, but, if you have turkey for lunch, it may drain your afternoon energy levels.
Healthy Options: Instead of turkey slices in your sandwich, opt for chicken or even fresh vegetables. This will boost energy levels and make you feel less full.

Hidden Sugars

While many of us may reach for a few crackers if we feel hunger pangs, Ranganath explains that sugar can actually contribute to nutrient deficiencies by supplying energy (kcalories) without providing nutrients. This means you are likely to feel zapped out most of the time as well as likely to put on weight. “Sugar isn’t just hidden in processed sweets; it’s added to bread to give it an appealing browned hue, and there’s often a surprising amount added to jarred pasta sauces and cereal,” she says, and advises consumers carefully review a product’s ingredients list and look for added sugars among the first two or three ingredients written in the form of: sugar, maltose, brown sugar, corn syrup, cane sugar, honey and fruit juice concentrate.

Healthier Options: According to Ranganath, healthier options include fresh fruits, baked goods where sugar is substituted with apple sauce or fresh fruit juice, no-sugar or low-sugar beverages.

Sugary Snacks- candy bars, cookies, cakes

When you feel tired and exhausted, the easiest option for many of us is to head for the nearest vending machine for a quick fix bar of chocolate. But after the sugar quickly picks you up, it drops you hard and leaves you looking for more, says Debi Silber, MS, RD, president of Lifestyle Fitness Inc. in New York and you actually feel even worse than before

Healthy Options sugar is having the right food with you so you don’t head to the nearest vending machine. “The best intentions go out the window when you’re not prepared,” says Florida nutritionist Pamela Smith, RD, author of The Energy Edge. Healthy options should ideally contain at least one to two ounces of protein to keep your blood sugar stable for several hours, combined with a complex carbohydrate to give you a quick boost of energy. Some options include:

Pasta / Rice

Ranganath explains that pasta made from white flour and white rice has been shown to break down to glucose very quickly, causing a spike in blood glucose and a resultant surge in insulin release to mop up the excess glucose and store it as energy. “After the insulin does its job, blood glucose falls again and you feel hungry and zapped out again,” she says

Healthier options: Instead she advises to include more whole wheat, brown rice, quinoa, and green banana; all of which will break down to glucose much more slowly and keep blood glucose levels a lot more stable.

Salty foods and snacks

Salt or sodium, points out Rangananth, makes your blood hold onto more water, which creates more pressure and a full bloated feeling. “For a few people reducing salt intake has another benefit; it may lower weight a bit,” she says which is due to the fact that sodium is hydrophilic meaning it lives in water. “Therefore sodium attracts and holds water and for some people, eating less salt means they retain less water and feel less bloated,” she says.

Healthy Options: In the case of canned baked beans or vegetables, for example, Ranganath says to substitute this for lower-salt versions. “The difference is notable; a tin of reduced salt baked beans has approximately half the salt content of regular baked beans,” she says. Even a small handful of peanuts, cashews or pistachios will help energize your mood and mind. Nuts are actually full of protein and can help sustain hunger also as well can help stop your craving for salty crunchy foods such as chips.


Most of us reach for a cup of tea or coffee first thing in the morning to “wake” us up and in fact, Ranganath says that caffeine is probably the most widely consumed stimulant in the world. “One cup of coffee in the morning is a pleasant push into alertness but seven cups of coffee a day can make you jittery and feel on edge,” she says. “For people who are not used to caffeine, a large dose of caffeine can raise the blood pressure, speed up the heartbeat, cause sleep disturbances and increase urine production.” And besides being found in tea and coffee, caffeine is also found in cocoa, cola drinks, chocolate bars and energy drinks.

Healthy Options: Great replacements, says Ranganath, include water, diluted juices, light soups which will still provide you with the much needed wake-up nudge minus the jitter.

Fatty Foods

cakes contain a lot of hidden fat that one can’t see so easily. Ranganath says that eating too much fat tends to raise blood cholesterol levels and increases the risk of obesity and heart disease. All of which can take a toll on your health and its’ no fun being on medicines and facing each day with no zeal and zest. Avoid foods such as fast-food burgers and ice cream that are high in saturated fat. One double whopper from Burger King has 58 grams of fat, 11 grams of sugar and 920 calories. Eating a large meal can cause blood to rush to the stomach and away from muscles and the brain

Healthy Options: Healthy types of fat such as monounsaturated fat, polyunsaturated fat, and omega 3 and 6 fatty acids are positively healthy, says Ranganath. “Replace the above with raw nuts, oily fish like salmon, fruits like avocado and yes, it’s just a question of balance,” she says. “If you are craving ice cream, try yogurt as a energy alternative.”

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