One of the biggest problems that physically active men experience on a daily basis is maintaining high enough energy levels to be able to excel at work, exercise and socializing. If you find that, after work, your thoughts tend to run more toward getting home as quickly as possible to pass out on the couch for the night rather than hitting the gym for a high-intensity workout, you're in need of a diet makeover and some fatigue-fighting foods.
What you eat during the day will have a significant impact on your energy levels, so it's vital to eat the right foods at the right times.
Here are the best fatigue-fighting foods to concentrate on:
1. Steel-cut oatmeal with egg whites
You need some fatigue-fighting food to start your day off and to make sure you have enough energy to carry you through the morning, and you really can't go wrong with some steel-cut oats and egg whites. The steel-cut oats slowly digest in the body, so they will break down over time rather than all at once. In addition to this, the egg whites will provide protein to the meal, which further reduces the release of glucose into the blood from the oatmeal.
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2. Whole grain crackers with almond butter
As midmorning rolls around, it's important to feed your body again to carry your energy levels through the morning and into lunch. To prevent that midmorning slump, top off your tank with some fatigue-fighting foods like whole grain crackers smeared with almond butter.
Whole grain crackers digest more slowly than a cereal bar would and the healthy snack provides a long-lasting form of energy.
3. Salmon spinach salad with an apple
Moving on to lunch, think lower carbs and higher protein. Many people overload with carbohydrates, which leads to a significant energy crash come their gym session.
If you find you always come back from lunch wishing you could take a siesta, that's a sure sign you're overdoing carbohydrates.
Instead, go with protein that contains omega-3 fatty acids, such as grilled salmon. Serve this over spinach, which provides a hit of iron, and you have an energy-packed plate in front of you. Since you still should take in a small amount of carbohydrates to set you up for the workout period, toss an apple in for dessert. The fiber in the fruit will cause a slower release of sugars in the blood so the chance of fatigue from eating this is lower.
4. Protein shake and a banana
About half an hour before you're finished work and plan to leave for the gym, it's time to get another dose of protein with some carbohydrates. Depending on your overall diet strategy, you may want to toss in about half a cup of raw oats into the shake for a slower-digesting form of carbohydrates.
Pair this with a banana for a faster source of carbohydrates to fuel your upcoming workout. Bananas are also a great source of potassium, which will also really help to get your muscles ready for exercise.
5. Steak with a brown-rice-stuffed pepper
For your evening meal, you don't want to entirely cut down on carbohydrates unless you didn't train that day, as you still need them to increase the muscle storage of energy. The trick is choosing carbohydrates that are more complex in nature so they don't spike and crash your blood sugar levels, leaving you feeling very fatigued throughout the later evening.
Brown rice is a good option paired with a lean protein source like steak. The steak will add iron to the meal, which is essential for keeping a healthy level of red blood cells in the body. Serve this with a red pepper for a boost in vitamin C, which improves the absorption rate of iron for a meal that's going to fight fatigue head-on.
6. Protein-packed shake
Before you turn in for the night, feed your body one last time so that it has nutrients in the system before entering the seven-to-eight-hour fast. Focus on lower carbohydrate sources that are high in slow-releasing protein content so that the amino acids can be used for tissue repair. This will leave you waking up fully rested and ready to go the next day.
Mix half a cup of cottage cheese along with a scoop of casein protein powder for the slowest-digesting protein available. Add a tablespoon of peanut butter and half a banana for flavor if you wish to get in some healthy fats that further slow the digestion process.
No Rest For the Wicked
By taking the time to properly plan your daily meals you can be sure that you're eating foods that are going to deliver a steady stream of energy and keep you from feeling fatigued. The trick is to avoid processed options as much as possible and instead choose foods that are natural and that slow the digestion process.