Go Peruvian in The Morning: Try Maca Powder for Energy
Peruvian tribesmen get energy by sucking on maca (Lepidium meyenii) plants. This radish-shaped vegetable from the mustard family has long been used in food and medicine to promote endurance, energy, vitality, sexual virility and even fertility.
The downside? A possible insomniac side effect. You can find maca powder at natural grocery stores. Add one teaspoon to smoothies, pancakes and other recipes. Or take ½ gram of the extract, twice a day, instead.
These days, it seems that you can find “energy” drinks just about everywhere from nightclubs to convenience stores. But the real question is, do they work? Unfortunately, there are just not enough data to know for sure. If you’re going to indulge, choose those with the lowest sugar content. Many are packed with caffeine (or its equivalent).
No wonder drinkers feel a boost, no matter what the other energizing ingredients are (like taurine and guarana). There have been some energy drinks linked to heart problems, in rare cases. However, it doesn’t appear they’re generally unsafe. We do have one definite warning: Do not mix energy drinks with alcohol. When the drinks get you “up,” they cause you to drink even more booze before even feeling any negative effects. This dangerous combo has prompted the banning of certain alcoholic energy drinks.
Find Your Chia in a Morning Muffin
We’re not talking chai tea, but a whole grain the Aztecs used as their energy source. It can help restore energy and decrease inflammation because of its omega-3 fatty acid content.
Like cornstarch, chia can be used as a thickening agent and substitute for whole grains in your diet. Whole grains are important because they help stabilize blood sugar levels, unlike refined sugar and simple carbs. Here’s one way to use chia.
Chia Muffin Recipe
1 tablespoon chia seeds, ground
1 ½ cups whole-wheat or whole-grain flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
2 teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon salt (or salt and pepper to taste)
16-ounce can organic pumpkin (make sure there’s only pumpkin listed in the ingredients)
2 egg whites
¼ cup high-quality canola oil
½ cup agave nectar
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ cup chopped walnuts
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix dry ingredients together in a bowl. In another bowl, mix all wet ingredients. Fold wet ingredients and nuts into dry ingredients, stirring only until dry ingredients are moistened (don’t over-mix!). Spoon into paper-lined or greased (with canola oil) muffin tins. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes (or until a toothpick comes out clean from the middle of the muffin). Store completely cooled muffins in a resealable plastic bag in the freezer. Makes about a dozen, at 150 calories each. There’s 9 grams of fat (but the good kind), and only 1 gram of saturated fat.
Go Green: Drink Green Tea
Green tea has a high content of polyphenols, which are chemicals with potent antioxidant properties, believed to be even stronger than vitamin C. Polyphenols give tea its bitter flavor. Because green tea leaves are young and haven’t been oxidized, green tea has up to 40 percent polyphenols (black tea contains only about 10 percent).
Green tea also has one-third the caffeine that black tea has, yet it yields the same amount of energy and attentiveness (but in more even levels than the highs and lows of other caffeine drinks). Note: Avoid drinking milk with it, which can inhibit the beneficial effects of the tea.