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Foods for a Natural Morning Boost

Posted Feb 23 2010 12:43pm
We’ve ALL been there. Some of us are there every day. We wake up as one-eyed, one-worded, zombie-esque beings until the coffee IV drip hits the bloodstream and transforms us back into humans. If you’ve ever wondered if there’s a better way, keep reading.

Keep the Coffee…Just Cut Back:
While we are on the subject, coffee is a great healthful, natural stimulant that gives us a quick burst of energy (and I’m talking about pure coffee, not the upside down, extra whip, extra chocolate, double venti mocha frappuccino from Starbucks). Unfortunately it can leave us dragging our feet about an hour or so later. Also, drinking coffee IV-style not only causes us to crash hard, it can keep us up at night, which zaps even more energy from us. The idea is to limit intake to ONE 8oz. cup while incorporating foods that 1) stabilize blood sugar levels and, 2) provide natural mood boosting endorphins and minerals into your breakfast schedule. These foods will not only raise your metabolism, but will also give you a consist source of energy that lasts all day long.

Become a Nut Nut:
The standard choice these days is to grab an energy bar filled with supplemental nutrients to give us a boost as we rush out the door. Although these bars are a good choice, the verdict is still out on how much benefit we get from supplements. A better choice is to rely on the sources of energy that nature has given us, such as nuts. Cashews, almonds and hazelnuts don’t get their deserved credit when it comes to energy. These tasty little numbers are a great source of magnesium, which plays a vital role in converting sugar into energy. If you aren’t one to enjoy eating nuts straight out of the bag, there are a handful of options nowadays that can sweeten the deal (literally). Larabars and Kind Fruit & Nut Bars are raw fruit & nut bars that give us all the benefits of nuts with the added burst of real fruit (and NO processing). Also, the bars are a great way to limit intake to one portion, as nuts are higher in calories and fat (although it is the good kind of fat that helps reduce cholesterol).

Make a Morning Date with Folate:
Folate reduces the risk of depression, and being happier makes us feel more energetic. The best source of folate is to eat your spinach, as green leafy veggies are packed with it. However, since spinach isn’t usually on the breakfast menu, citrus fruits are also a good source of folate, not to mention how easy they are to throw into smoothies. Luna bars are a good option, as they have 100% of your daily allowance of folate, but remember that no one is really sure how many nutritional benefits we get out of supplements, so fruit and vegetable options are the best (yeah, that one’s a big shocker, I know).

Cha-Cha-Cha-Chia! Seeds:
Yup, start digging the seeds out of your chia pets* people (I know you have them in every window), as chia seeds have omega-3...and omega-3 gives you wings! It is another mood booster and protects against depression. Most of us know that fish is high in omega-3, but if you want to get 8 TIMES the amount of omega-3 (and forgo the cholesterol and trace amounts of mercury), chia seeds are an amazing option. Flax seeds are another amazing option, but since flax has hogged all of the press, I wanted to take a little time and discuss this lesser known seed. Chia seeds contain nearly all of the nutrients of flax seeds, such as high amounts of dietary fiber (which is an energy stabilizer), easily digestible protein, and vitamins and minerals (especially calcium and iron). However, chia seeds have advantages over flax seeds in that they 1) contain 60% more omega-3 and 20% more maganesium, making them a better choice if you are looking for an energy boost, 2) contain many more antioxidants that not only provide anti-aging and heart health benefits, but they also protect the delicate fats of the chia seed so they keep their nutrient value, 3) contain 20 fewer calories per serving size (2 tbsp.) and 4) they turn into a gel-like substance when mixed with liquids, making them a terrific thickening agent for smoothies or soups...AKA, the perfect ingredient for breakfast smoothies. A good raw fruit and chia seed bar choice is Fruition Bars.

Get Whole Grains on the Brain:
Mixing in whole grains in the morning raises serotonin levels and keeps your blood sugar stable. The best sources for morning whole grains are whole grain cereals or oatmeals, and there are more and more hitting the shelves everyday. My personal favorite whole grain cereal is Kashi’s Cinnamon Harvest shredded wheat cereal, which has 100% of your daily allowance of whole grains in one serving.

Get the RIGHT Energy Drink:
Of course the article wouldn’t be complete without mentioning energy drinks, although those are bad news in general. If you must have one, I’d stick with one like Guru Lite, which is not only lower in calories, but uses all natural mood boosting ingredients such as echinacea, ginseng root and ginkgo biloba (translation: it doesn’t contain unhealthy levels of caffeine and/or sugar, not to mention additives and preservatives).

Bu-Bye Former Zombie-esque Me:
A few small changes to your diet CAN make a big difference...and who really wants to be a morning zombie forever? So get going! There's no time like now to start becoming one of those very annoying high energy people.

*You didn't actually think I would recommend eating chia seeds from your chia pet, now did you? Try Navitas chia seeds, as all of their berries and seeds are organically grown, completely raw and have a noticeably higher quality flavor to them.

To see all of Calorista's healthier-option, low calorie food comparisons and articles, click here.
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