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Fire Up the Engine

The carbohydrates, proteins, and fats in food provide calories to fuel exercise and energize your body. Contrary to myth, vitamins and minerals do not themselves provide any energy. (They are, however, involved in the process of converting nutrients into fuel for energy and are an important part of a healthy diet.)

Carbohydrates are the body's preferred form of fuel because they can be quickly converted to glucose for energy. Eating a light snack of carbohydrates right before exercise is a good idea for quick energy.

For longer-lasting energy, eat protein along with the carbs to slow down the rate at which your body absorbs them. But be sure you don't include too much fat.

"Any food with calories will give you energy; however, foods high in fat stimulate production of serotonin, [a brain chemical] that can make you feel sluggish and tired," according to Benardot.

So mixed meals that contain small amounts of healthy fats, along with protein and complex carbohydrates, are the foundation for an energizing diet.

High-Octane Foods

The best energizing foods are those that are rich in complex carbohydrates, protein, antioxidants, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and other health-promoting substances. Put these foods together along with small amounts of healthy fats for a balanced diet that is sure to provide you energy all day long.

Here are a just a few of the energizing foods that will do your body good. As long as you don't eat them in excess, these foods will make you feel lighter -- and more inspired to move around.

  • Blueberries
  • Beans
  • Cantaloupe
  • Strawberries
  • Mango
  • Spinach
  • Salmon
  • Nuts
  • Tea
  • Tomatoes
  • Soy
  • Low fat dairy products
  • Oatmeal
  • Whole grains
  • Citrus fruit
  • Peppers
  • Sweet potatoes

Start off your new year eating small, healthful meals more often, and see how much better you feel. You'll gain energy, helping you to approach each new day with a renewed feeling of optimism and enthusiasm. And what have you got to lose, except maybe a few pounds?

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