These 12 nutrient-dense foods pack up all the vitamins, minerals, and macros your body needs to gain energy, and be more active and healthy.
The old adage “we are what we eat” has a lot of truth. Eating the right foods can make a huge difference in our physical health, emotional well-being, and energy levels.
Having the right diet will give you the strength and energy you need, whether you are implementing a new fitness program, training for a marathon or simply looking to have a more active lifestyle.
Whatever your goals for the next year, by including these foods in your diet you will find you feel healthier, have more energy, and are ready to take on the world!
Nutrient-Dense Foods For Active People
Here are the most nutrient-dense foods you should be eating on a daily basis to get more energy and become more active:
1. Eat Green Vegetables
As a kid, your parents probably always told you to eat your greens, and they were right!
Green vegetables help you build a healthy, strong body, as well as bolstering your immune system and maintaining energy levels.
This is thanks to all the vitamins which are found in vegetables such as kale, spinach, arugula, and broccoli; especially vitamin A, C, K, and E.
2. Add Some Brown Rice To Your Meals
Often when we are trying to eat healthily we are told to steer away from carbohydrates.
However, complex carbs with high fiber content, like brown rice, have a low glycemic index. This means they break down slowly in your body, maintaining steady energy levels and even helping to regulate blood sugar levels.
Brown rice is not only high in fiber, but it also helps your body produce manganese, which is vital for good health.
3. Step Up Your Whole Grains
Like brown rice, whole grain carbohydrates are an excellent source of fiber.
Furthermore, studies show that people who consume large amounts of whole grains have a lower risk of developing conditions such as diabetes and heart disease.
Some great, and healthy, examples of whole grain foods include whole grain bread and pasta.
4. Protein Matters
Amino acids, the building blocks found in protein, are critical for body tissue repair and growth, as well as building muscle.
By eating enough protein – experts recommend 0.8g of protein per kilo of body weight – this will break down into the amino acids you need to fuel an active lifestyle.
If you don’t want to eat red meat, never fear. Other high-protein options include fish, legumes, chicken, dairy products and soybeans.
5. Load Up On Fatty Fish
So-called “fatty” fish is good for you not only because they are great sources of protein, but they also contain fatty acids such as Omega-3 and B vitamins.
Omega-3 fatty acids are particularly good for energy and overall wellbeing as they fight inflammation, which can be a cause of aches, pain, and fatigue.
The vitamin B12 found in these kinds of fish also helps with red blood cell production, making iron more effective, also fighting fatigue and boosting energy levels.
The most common types of fatty fish are salmon and tuna, other examples being lake trout and sardines.
6. Don’t Overlook Eggs
Eggs are another great source of vital protein. More specifically, they are packed with the amino acid leucine which has been showed to stimulate energy production.
Need more incentives? Eggs are also high in B vitamins, the vitamin group also found in fatty fish, which are essential for the bodily processes which turn fuel into energy.
7. Go Bananas
The humble banana should really be considered a superfood. It is high in carbohydrates, potassium and vitamin B6, all great for energy levels and overall physical health.
Bananas have even been recommended as fuel for endurance athletes like distance runners and cyclists.
8. Goji Berries
Goji berries are becoming increasingly known as a superfood, thanks to their high levels of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.
This ancient Chinese berry is also a great source of fiber.
All of this combines to mean that goji berries make you feel more alert, less tired and even protect antioxidants in your body.
9. Eat Mushrooms
Another often overlooked superfood, mushrooms are packed with important minerals like potassium and copper, and fiber and protein.
For this reason, mushrooms are great for vegetarians whose diet may be lacking in these important elements.
As an added bonus, mushrooms also contain high levels of phytochemicals, important disease-fighting chemicals, so they are great for your overall health.
10. Treat Yourself To Chocolate
This one may seem too good to be true, but chocolate really is good for you! Or more specifically, dark chocolate, and when consumed in moderate amounts.
Dark chocolate contains high levels of antioxidants and flavonoids, which strengthen your immune system, as well as helping to tackle high blood pressure and cholesterol.
11. Drink Wine
In other good news, red wine also contains flavonoid compounds, which are great for your immune system and for lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
Again, we are specifically talking about red wine, and in moderate amounts.
12. Drink Water
Water may seem out of place on a list of what to eat, but drinking enough water is so important that it is worth a special mention.
Drinking adequate water every day is essential for our immune systems, to flush out toxins, support weight loss and even improve energy levels.
At a minimum, you should be looking to drink 1.2 to 1.5 liters of water or equivalent liquids a day.
If you are working out, under the weather or in a hot or humid climate, you should drink even more.
If you have tried all of the above nutrient-dense foods and are still feeling less than fit and vital, or suffering from stress or other conditions, it may be time to check this out further. Services like verisana.com let you take your own gut health and biome tests to see how your body is going, which can be a great way to check out if you need any adjustments.