2 Foods That Boost Your Energy Levels & Fight Stress
What I’m about to share with you is something that will make you say “REALLY?!”. Now before I share these 2 things that naturally boost your energy levels in addition to fighting stress, I want you to know why I feel this is so important for you to know. If you stick 100 people in a room and ask them a simple question about their energy and their stress level, I would bet all I’ve got that you would get an alarming amount of people who would say the same thing….“I’m exhausted”, “I’ve got so much going on”, “I need a break”. It seems that everyone, including athletes, is tired, overworked and stressed these days and by the looks of it, it doesn’t really look like stress levels are dropping any time soon. But why is everyone so stressed and so tired?
The answer is simple. STUFF.
We are bogged down with stuff. Some good. Some bad. Some just whatever. We walk around daily with stuff hanging over our head and I hate to say it but that’s life. Life is full of stuff. Family, work, finances, health, relationships, politics…. And the list goes on. Even trying to eat and drink healthy can be stressful. Now you see why this is important? If you aren’t convinced yet that you need a little help, read this and let it sink in for a moment. It’s been concluded over and over again that people experiencing stress and chronic fatigue are more likely to report hypertension (high blood pressure), anxiety, depression or obesity. And just by you reading up to this point I think it’s safe to say that you fall into one of these two categories of people and you are desperately looking for help. Well, you came to the right place for help to say goodbye to tiredness and stress! And now for that “REALLY?!” moment…Dark chocolate and walnuts.
Yup, Dark Chocolate. You read that right.
Dark chocolate (70% cocoa and other cocoa products) has gained a lot of attention worldwide as dietary supplements to improve health, specifically in the area of stress management. These products are rich in flavanols. Flavanols are felt to mediate some of the heart-healthy properties of chocolate. Flavanols are also found in many other food sources felt to be heart healthy such as grapes, apples, blackberries, legumes, red wine, and green tea. When we are stressed, (even during exercise) our body signals out chemicals that raise our blood pressure and help us fight the stressor. These chemicals or hormones are stored in the brain (pituitary gland), the adrenal glands, and other parts of the nervous system. Studies have shown that consuming dark chocolate produced lower levels of cortisol and epinephrine after the stress has taken place. Less released cortisol and epinephrine with stress is crucial as these are strong stimulants of the heart and blood vessels. In addition to reducing stress, nibbling a square of dark chocolate as a post-lunch dessert is good for you. It contains the natural stimulant theobromine, similar to caffeine, which boosts your energy and your mood.
And the walnuts?
Well, walnuts definitely don’t taste as good as dark chocolate but they are jam-packed with amazing nutrients that will not only help lower your stress but also leave you feeling a little more energy throughout the day. According to one study by researchers at Penn State University, a diet rich in walnuts and walnut oil may prepare the body to deal better with stress. Now this study points out that walnuts and walnut oil reduce blood pressure during stressful periods. And since we can't completely avoid all the stresses in our lives, it's good to know that such a simple and convenient snack could help us deal with the pressure. Besides its beneficial effects on blood pressure and inflammation, walnuts have also been shown to be an excellent source of antioxidants. And for athletes, having a strong immune system is crucial in avoiding injury and overtraining. Walnuts also help to prevent gallstones, improve sleep by boosting melatonin, protect bone health and prevent weight gain. So there you have it. If you can, take a few small bites of dark chocolate daily and accompany that with a handful of walnuts and you’ll be that much closer to living a healthier life.
Brian Klepacki is the official Performance Expert for Ultima Replenisher and writes in-depth training articles on a monthly basis. Brian earned his Master’s Degree in Exercise Science with a focus on Strength & Conditioning. He also holds many highly recognized certifications that set him apart from others. Brian owns Optimax Performance Training and has a strong following in St. Petersburg, Florida where he resides with his wife and son.