There are foods that can leave you feeling far more sluggish than supercharged. We know the culprits. Refined carbohydrates --the stuff of cookies, bagels, pretzels, and potatoes -- make blood sugar soar and then crash, creating a cycle of energy highs and lows.
Long-burning fuel is the trick to stoking the body's furnace throughout the day. Foods that are rich in unrefined carbohydrates and fiber fall into this category. Digested slowly, they keep blood-sugar levels -- and thus energy -- steady. Vegetables and whole-grain foods (such as whole-wheat bread and oatmeal) are excellent sources.
Protein and fat have a similar effect, says Marjorie Livingston, an assistant professor of nutrition at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. "Protein, together with healthy fat, keeps us full and prevents blood sugar from spiking," she says.
Just remember to choose wisely: Select healthful representatives, such as fish, skinless poultry, and beans for protein; nuts, avocados, and olive oil for "good" fats. The recipes you'll find on the next pages enlist all of these ingredients -- and each one runs circles around the average bagel.
Meals that incorporate unrefined carbohydrates, "good" fat, fiber, and lean protein can help keep you alert. Try oat-and-nut-rich muesli with apple slices and low-fat yogurt for a breakfast that will get you up and going.
Do You Know?
Even diligent dieters need to incorporate some fat into their diets in order to keep energy levels up. Nuts and seeds are two good sources of healthful fat.