Carbohydrates are the body’s main source of fuel. These nutrients are easily broken down into sugar molecules, which the body uses as fuel. If you are looking to limit your fat intake and follow a healthy diet, choose complex carbohydrates rather than simple carbohydrates. Complex carbohydrates include whole grains, brown rice, beans, bran, oats and lentils. Compared to simple carbohydrates — found in many snack foods, bakery items, white bread and pasta, crackers and soft drinks — complex carbohydrates provide a longer source of energy because it takes longer for the body to digest them. In their natural form, complex carbohydrates are not fattening. Just avoid eating them with fattening ingredients, such as cheese, creamy sauces, red meat or sugary toppings.
For a quick energy fix that maintains your waistline, opt for fresh fruit. Filled with natural sugars, fresh fruit provides a quick energy boost — while the fruit’s fiber keeps you feeling full for longer. When you’re on the run, grapes, apples, bananas, blueberries and cherries are a good choice because they don’t require any preparation. If you have some prep time, consider melons, oranges, pineapple and kiwi. Or, toss some fresh or frozen fruit in the blender with low-fat yogurt and a splash of milk or juice for an energy-filled smoothie.
Knowing the top energy-producing foods is only the first step to maintaining a high level of energy throughout the day — a proper eating schedule is the second step. The Prevention website recommends distributing your calories relatively equally between breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. Aim to eat a small meal or snack every two to three hours. Meals should include a mixture of carbohydrates, protein and a small amount of healthy fat. This food combination combined with a regular eating schedule allows for a steady flow of energy throughout the day.
If your blood sugar is dropping too low and you need an immediate source of energy, the National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse recommends drinking 4 ounces of any fruit juice or 8 ounces of milk. You might also swallow one tablespoon of honey. These foods and beverages are digested extremely quickly, allowing the sugar to reach your bloodstream immediately. If you are experiencing extremely low blood sugar, eating or drinking something to raise your blood sugar to a healthy level is more important than maintaining your low-fat diet.