Food That Gives Energy

Nia Rouseberg Author: Nia Rouseberg Time for reading: ~14 minutes Last Updated: October 28, 2022
Food That Gives Energy

The main source of energy for the human body is food. The amount of energy depends not only on the amount of food, but also on the quality of its assimilation.

All external interactions with the environment and internal processes of a living organism consume energy . Replenishment of reserves occurs from the outside: food , breath, light, etc. The main source of energy for the human body is food .

Energy formation in the body: theory

Regardless of whether we feed ourselves or the microorganisms that live in our bodies, most of the energy is spent to compensate for energy costs. And only a small part of it is intended for internal construction.

 

Food is raw material for obtaining energy . The cells of any animal contain millions of mitochondria. It is they who charge the cells with energy  in exchange for glucose extracted by the body from any food that can be absorbed by the digestive system and the microflora present in it.

Glucose, as a result of interaction with mitochondria, breaks down (this process is called glycolysis) and forms adenosine triphosphate (ATP) molecules in cells. These are universal sources of energy that are used in all biochemical processes of the body. This is energy in its pure form.

For some reason, ATP in any biological organism plays the role of a battery, which, accordingly, needs to be charged by feeding mitochondria with glucose. Only after the cells are charged, the energy can be used by the body as needed.

 

Two ways of generating energy

Glycolysis (breakdown of glucose - release of energy) can take place in two ways: anaerobic and aerobic.

Carbohydrates contained in food are broken down by the digestive tract into glucose. In muscle and other tissues, it is utilized to lactic acid without the participation of oxygen. At the same time, only two ATP molecules are extracted from each glucose molecule. Next, if the body is unable to provide the necessary amount of oxygen, lactic acid cannot continue its absorption and enters the blood, and then the liver, where it is reduced back to glucose. This whole process also requires energy expenditure . This is anaerobic glycolysis.

If the body has clean capillaries and a powerful metabolism, the fate of lactic acid is different — it begins to massively absorb oxygen, resulting in the formation of a lot of water and carbon dioxide. As a result of this process, not 2 molecules of ATP are formed from one molecule of glucose, but 38. This is a complete cycle of a complete aerobic method of assimilation of glucose.

As you can see, the difference is undeniable. With aerobic glycolysis, the body receives many times more energy , and can provide it to every part of the body.

The sum of all processes in cells to charge them with energy is called cellular respiration. If it is broken, no matter how much glucose enters the body, the energy obtained as a result of glycolysis will not be much.

The amount of energy depends not only on the amount of food , but also on the quality of its assimilation.

 

Proteins / fats / carbohydrates: what is the most energetic

Carbohydrates are the primary fuel that starts our body to work, and can be quickly transformed by the body into glucose. For example, when we eat cookies, the starch begins to turn into sugar in the mouth while chewing. From the point of view of the speed of conversion into glucose, carbohydrates are simple (quickly converted into glucose, accompanied by a corresponding increase in the formation of insulin) and complex (slowly converted into glucose, weakly stimulating the formation of insulin). Complex carbohydrates are found in unprocessed grains, vegetables and fruits. Also, they supply the body with dietary fiber: soluble fiber (for example, pectin) and insoluble fiber (cellulose, celery "fibers"). Simple carbohydrates are found in starchy foods, for example, breads, potatoes, flour products, simple cereals, fruit juices, candies, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, and also in some fruits with increased sugar content, for example, bananas.

Proteins and fats, on the contrary, are more slowly involved in metabolic processes for the production of glucose and take part in restoring the body's energy needs within a few hours after eating . Our brain needs a constant level of glucose, so food intake should be balanced and distributed throughout the day in such a way that the brain receives the necessary amount of this nutrient. If you eat too little, or too much time passes between two meals , you feel a bit dim, because the brain does not receive the necessary amount of energy needed for full functioning.

In addition, 1 gram of protein contains 2 calories, which contribute to the body's energy production. The processing of proteins into glucose occurs more slowly than the formation of glucose from carbohydrates, so the presence of proteins in our body helps to maintain a constant level of sugar in the blood for 3-4 hours, compared to 1-2 hours in the case of obtaining glucose from carbohydrates. That is why compliance with the optimal amount of proteins — about 35% of the total volume of food consumed — is necessary. Both proteins and carbohydrates are important elements of proper nutrition aimed at maintaining energy level, ability to concentrate, stable mood and normal speed of metabolic processes throughout the day.

1 gram of fat contains 9 calories — the most powerful source of energy for the body — so we need a lot of fat every day. Few people understand that all fats (it does not matter if they are contained in vegetable oils or animal fats, margarine, lard) in 1 gram contain twice as many calories as carbohydrates and proteins (9 cal/g and 4 cal/g). Although olive oil fats are healthier than animal fats, for example, because they are unsaturated in composition, 1 g or one serving of both olive oil and animal fat contain the same number of calories.

Despite the highest number of calories, fatty foods do not take up as much space in the stomach as foods rich in fiber, so we often do not notice how much fat (and therefore calories) we consume. Food with a high content of fats and a poorly selected combination of them with proteins and carbohydrates slows down the work of the digestive tract.

So, when carbohydrates are oxidized, 17.17 kJ/g or 4.1 kcal/g is released, fats — 38.96 kJ/g or 9.3 kcal/g, proteins — 17.17 kJ/g or 4.1 kcal/ Mr. Carbohydrates are the fastest, but still the main fuel for our body. 1 g of fat contains more calories, and therefore can give more energy , but the process of splitting is slow, and the energy is mainly not used to supply current vital processes, but is stored as a reserve. During the assimilation of proteins, a share of energy is also released , but they are more plastic material than energy .

 

Energy value of food products

The products we consume every day are kind of bricks for building health and immunity of our body. Properly selected energy food products charge the body with vigor, give a good mood, and contribute to increasing endurance.

Depending on energy expenditure, i.e. mental and physical activity, a person needs a certain amount of energy , which is expressed in kilocalories (kcal). On average, for a person who is not engaged in physical labor, the daily energy requirement is 2300-2600 kcal and, accordingly, with age, this indicator gradually decreases.

With some diseases of the digestive system, the daily caloric intake can be reduced to 1,500 kcal/day, and during the recovery period after major operations or long-term illnesses, on the contrary, it can be increased to 3,000 kcal.

It is extremely important to maintain a balance between energy value and energy costs. Excessive consumption of high-calorie food with a sedentary lifestyle leads to obesity and impaired functions of the pancreas and digestive tract, and, conversely, you should not exhaust yourself with strict diets during periods of intense activity, otherwise you risk exhausting the body and disrupting metabolism.

Also, it is worth noting that our body burns calories even during such simple actions as sleeping, washing dishes, reading books and watching television.

A specially developed table of the energy value of food products, in addition to data on the amount of proteins / fats / carbohydrates, contains information on the calorie content of each product per 100 g and is an indispensable assistant in preparing a balanced diet.

Products are grouped according to the following principle
  • Very high calorie content (500-1000 kcal) - for example, butter, chocolate, fatty pork.

  • High calorie content (200-450 kcal) — for example, sour cream, cheese, sugar, candies.

  • Average/moderate calorie content (110-119 kcal) — for example, beef, rabbit, eggs.

  • Low calorie (30-99 kcal) — for example, kefir, flounder, berries.

  • Very low calorie (less than 30 kcal) - for example, zucchini, cucumbers, cranberries.

 

Energetically correct nutrition

Today, a lot of attention is paid to nutrition for weight control, however, we often forget its true purpose: food is fuel - energy nutrition for the body.

It is clear that the main components of food (proteins, fats, carbohydrates) break down in the body and are absorbed in the form of energy . The cells of our body are like batteries because they feed on the energy that enables us to move, think and even just breathe. The quality and quantity of our energy directly depends on nutrition. Such food as, for example, chocolate, instantly invigorates due to a sharp increase in sugar level, however, this effect does not last long. Another food —say, oatmeal—will provide a slow, gradual burst of energy that will last much longer.

By choosing an energetically correct diet, you provide your body with strength. Without regular nutrition through food , which supports and increases our energy , a feeling of lethargy and weakness appears. Office workers who combine household chores and careers, or the director of a large-scale company who spends almost all of his time at work, or a professional athlete — everyone should be sure that they are supplying their body with the best fuel.

Deficiency of energy in the case of improper nutrition can be associated with such factors as a deficiency of useful substances and an increase in the level of sugar in the blood.

  • Deficiency of nutrients: lack of vitamins C and D or iron can cause excessive fatigue. Eat foods rich in these substances, dried apricots (iron), fruits (vitamin C), salmon (vitamin D). Avoid feeling weak and tired, eat fruits that support the necessary level of vitamin C.

  • Increase in blood sugar: Blood sugar is regulated by the hormone insulin. Consuming large amounts of refined sugar causes insulin levels to rise. To bring itself back to normal, the body begins to rapidly reduce this level, which causes even more lethargy than before. Yes, sweets give a short burst of energy , and then cause long-term weakness.

 

Energy food

Useful substances found in various products are necessary for the formation of energy . Therefore, in order to feel energetic throughout the day, you need to know which energy products contribute to this. Energetic food is a combination of low calorie content and a large amount of nutrients that help you feel good throughout the day. At the top of the energy list are foods rich in protein, fiber, and complex carbohydrates. Such products provide the body with a set of nutrients with a minimum number of calories.

Nutrients for energy production

Carbohydrates give the body a charge of energy for a long time. If you want to fuel yourself for a long period of time, carbohydrates should become the main component of your diet. They provide the main reserves of glycogen in the muscles and liver and, accordingly, provide energy . The advantages of carbohydrate-rich food are that it is based on easily digestible plant products, consisting mainly of starches and sugars that are quickly converted into glycogen. They, in turn, appear in the blood in the form of glucose. Carbohydrates provide the body with more ready-made fuel, but other foods help break down food . More than 60% of the energy received from food is given to us by carbohydrates.

To maintain energy
  • Starches - provide slow and constant processing of glucose - are found in cereals, bread, potatoes, legumes, cereals, pasta and rice.

  • Sugars - provide rapid production of glucose - can be found in fruits, vegetables, honey and milk.

To improve the breakdown of food
  • Vitamin B — helps maintain metabolism and convert digested food into energy — is found in yeast, meat, dairy products, nuts and fish.

  • Selenium, which regulates the efficient distribution of energy throughout the body, is found in large quantities in Brazilian goris.

  • Carnitine, an amino acid that helps convert stored fatty acids into active energy , is found in fish, milk, poultry, and avocados.

For quick recovery of energy
  • A powerful boost of energy - bananas and honey - contain simple sugars for instant recovery and a complex of carbohydrates to maintain vitality, also, bananas are rich in vitamins, minerals and protein, which makes them an indispensable product, in particular, as a snack.

  • Blood sugar spikes - some foods give you a quick spike in blood sugar - if you're going to be out and about for a long time, include boiled potatoes and rice in your diet: your sugar levels will rise and you won't need to refuel for long.

  • Caffeine - Too much caffeine can cause energy fluctuations, but when consumed in reasonable amounts (3-4 cups per day) it can help improve physical condition, increase energy and reduce fatigue.

 

To be cheerful throughout the day

  • A light snack supports the level of glucose in the blood: it can be a vegetable side dish, fruit, nuts, seeds and yogurt.

  • The body needs regular nutrition to keep energy levels high. Start the day with a breakfast that emphasizes carbohydrates and proteins to avoid mid-day fatigue.

  • It is very important to feed yourself at noon, no matter how busy you are. You can't count on feeling good during the day if you skip lunch.

  • Energy products such as potatoes and bananas not only restore strength quickly, but are also able to maintain it for a long time.

  • Don't forget to drink enough water. After all, dehydration causes drowsiness and fatigue. Try to always keep a glass or bottle of clean water at hand - this will help the body maintain the necessary level  of energy .
  • Fruits are the best option for quickly replenishing  energy  reserves. An orange, apple, pear or peach contain a lot of fiber, which supports the digestive process. Also, most fruits do not require cooking and cleaning, which is very convenient when there is little time for a snack.

 

Energy products

Cereals
  • Whole grain wheat.

  • Oatmeal.

  • Whole grain wheat bread, pita, pasta.

  • Brown rice

  • Quality rye.

  • Pastry with bran.

  • Brown bread.

Fruits and vegetables
  • Oranges.

  • Berries

  • Muskmelon.

  • Watermelon.

  • Apples

  • Avocado.

  • Chili pepper.

  • Spinach.

  • Sweet potatoes.

  • Tomatoes

Milk and protein products
  • Skimmed milk.

  • Low-fat yogurt.

  • Salmon.

  • Chicken.

  • Almond.

  • Peanut.

  • Walnuts and hazelnuts.

  • Beans

  • Eggs

PREMIUM CHAPTERS ▼

7 products that will provide the body with energy the best (PREMIUM)

Salmon
  • It is rich in omega fatty acids, which is useful in the prevention of heart diseases.

  • Contains a large amount of protein, which increases attention and productivity.

  • It has a positive effect on the brain in general.

Almond
  • Rich in fiber, protein and healthy fats, which ensures replenishment of the body's energy reserves.

  • Contains a large amount of vitamin E, which nourishes the skin and protects it from the negative effects of the sun.

  • Reduces the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases.

  • Helps in the treatment of lung and breast cancer.

  • Prevents fluctuations in the level of sugar and insulin in the blood.

Green tea
  • It is extremely rich in antioxidants and catechins - they help keep the heart in good condition, and also lift the mood.

  • Increases the general tone of the body, relieves fatigue.

Avocado
  • It is an excellent source of potassium for the body.

  • Contains healthy fats.

  • Contains oleic acid, which lowers blood cholesterol.

  • Fiber and fats in the composition increase concentration, maintaining a constant level of insulin in the blood.

  • Promotes hair growth and skin health.

Vegetables
  • Contains a large number of nutrients, in particular, isothiocyanates, which provide protection of the body against chronic diseases, and also reduce the risk of cancer.

  • The fiber present in large quantities in the composition maintains a constant level of sugar and insulin, which prevents fluctuations in energy and, as it turns out, productivity.

Black chocolate
  • The flavonoids included in its composition help maintain a healthy state of blood vessels and prevent inflammation.

  • Fats contained in dark chocolate do not affect cholesterol levels.

  • It lowers the level of cortisol, the stress hormone, and also increases blood flow to the brain, improving cognitive abilities. Provided that the chocolate contains at least 70% cocoa.

Berries
  • Rich in antioxidants and phytonutrients, in particular, anthocyanins, which lower blood pressure.

  • They are rich in fiber, which ensures the maintenance of a constant level of sugar in the blood, and therefore the constant generation of energy .

 

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