by Julie Snyder
Your afternoon slump arrives and your child's slouching on the couch. Is it time to have a cup of coffee and an energy drink? That's probably not your best alternative. Reach for energy-boosting snacks instead. These foods leave you with a true blast of energy that will last and keep you active all day.
People who stay busy juggling a career and family say that lack of energy tops their complaint list. Couch potato kids pose a large health problem. How can adults and kids find the energy they need to keep up with tasks and activities?
Did you know that some foods contain nutrients that give us a natural lift of energy? These super foods leave you with a true blast of energy that lasts and keeps you active all day.
Oats contain stress-lowering and energizing B vitamins that help turn carbs into usable energy. They're also high in fiber, so your body gets a steady stream of energy instead of a short-term spike.
Bananas are high in potassium. This electrolyte helps maintain normal nerve and muscle function. Your body can't store it for long. If you're stressed or just finished a strenuous exercise session, you'll want to give your potassium level a boost. Another plus -- the sugars in bananas are easily digested and the fiber keeps your body from getting a sugar blast. Other fruits like apples, grapes, peaches and pineapples make refreshing and energizing snacks.
Water makes it possible for your body to digest, absorb and move nutrients through your body, It also ssists your body when cooling down. When you're dehydrated, your cells receive fewer nutrients, leading to fatigue. Aim for 8 to 10 glasses of water a day.
Nuts have a variety of nutrients that increase energy. They're high in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, selenium, magnesium and Vitamin E. Just a few almonds or walnuts not only boost energy levels, but can elevate mood and combat depression.
Dates have been a popular snack since biblical times and for a good reason. Five or six of these little power-packed fruits provide fiber, potassium, B vitamins and energy.
Leafy green vegetables boost energy with omega-3s and folates. They can help reduce your risk of depression, too.
Chocolate can elevate your energy levels with bioactive compounds. Experts also claim that it helps with mood, adds years to your life. We know it tastes good. Opt for dark chocolate or raw cacao for the highest levels of nutrients.
Lentils and beans have a lot of fiber. That translates to a slow release of glucose. They're also loaded with B vitamins, iron, magnesium, potassium and a bunch of other nutrients, making them a great food for energy throughout the day.
You can benefit even more by combining foods. When you eat a protein-rich food with your carbohydrate-rich energy booster, the sugars release slower. Grab a half a dozen almonds to go with your banana and you'll make it through the afternoon with energy to spare!
What's your favorite snack when you start to drag?
Photo courtesy of iStockphoto.