Believe it or not, there are actually some foods that wreck your energy that are magically disguised as health foods. I know! Isn’t this just wrong? I have a serious pet peeve with many foods today because they confuse consumers on a number of levels. Many food and drink products advertise themselves as healthy, yet are actually causing certain health issues many people have. Whether it be digestive upsets, low thyroid activity, diabetes, or even weight gain, there are many issues that come from poor food choices. Sadly, many of these seem healthy. I’m here to show you some of the top foods that wreck your energy; those that are masked as health foods. I realize these foods may not be the worst choices you can make, but they certainly aren’t necessary to anyone’s diet either.
1. Gluten-free Cereals
Gluten-free cereals are one of the worst foods that wreck your energy. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not referring to naturally gluten-free grains like gluten-free oats, quinoa, or any other whole grain like rice. I’m referring to processed gluten-free cereals that lack fiber, lack the whole grain component, and that have additives like BHT (a chemical preservative), sugar, or refined flours. Many gluten-free breads are also guilty of this. These types of gluten-free foods not only lack whole sources of vitamins and minerals, but also give your body no nutrition, whatsoever. BHT is a preservative that has been linked to neurological disorders, thyroid disorders, digestive issues and headaches. Sugar is also a detrimental food for long term energy and optimal health as we all know, even if it comes under the name, “evaporated cane syrup”, “dextrose”, “fructose”, etc. Avoid these foods, and have a nice bowl of oatmeal or quinoa with some berries and cinnamon instead.
2. Fruit-sweetened Yogurts
Another food that gripes me a good bit is fruit-sweetened yogurts. Listen everyone, this is not a health food. Turn that pretty package over and read the label. You won’t see just fruit and yogurt in the ingredients I promise. Most likely you’ll see cornstarch, some type of refined sugar, additives or thickeners, and even salt and preservatives. I’m sorry, but if I want some yogurt and fruit, I think I’ll just make my own, what about you? Choose plain unsweetened yogurt and add your own fruit. You’ll save money, along with having plenty of energy without a sugar crash later on in the morning. Most fruit-sweetened yogurts and even other sweetened or flavored yogurts have more sugar than a Krispy Kreme donut, which is pretty sad. That’s no reason to eat the donut, but also no reason to load up on the yogurt either!
3. Fruit Juice
Oh, and while we’re on the high sugar issue, let’s talk about fruit juice. I can’t even count how many fruit juice products I see that offer the world and offer nothing but a huge glass of sugar. Even processed carrot juice has more sugar than 2 candy bars! You all, please, do not drink your sugar. Choose whole food sources as your natural choices of sugar, without any added sugars. Drinking your sugar might give you a sugar high, but will lead to a crash, along with weight gain pretty quickly. Your body does not have to digest sugary drinks, therefore the calories are directly stored as energy after you drink them and the sugar high is over. This leads to a sugar crash, making you crave more sugar, which exhausts your body on a number of levels.
4. Protein Bars
Another one of the major foods that wreck your energy are standard protein bars. Most protein bars have a load of processed soy and milk ingredients, which are extremely bad for your energy levels. Many also have added artificial sweeteners. These ingredients wreck your thyroid, which leads to low energy quickly. Be sure to choose a raw protein bars like Amazing Grass, Vega One, Pure Bars, Larabars, or another healthy protein bar free of processed milk, soy, artificial sweeteners and refined sugar. These should be made from 100% whole foods and be additive free.
5. Breakfast Bars
While we’re talking bars, let’s talk breakfast bars. I know you’ve seen the claims, “Whole Grain”, “Added Fiber”, “Vitamins and Minerals”, etc. Am I right? Most of these have more ingredients than you can count on both hands. I’m sorry, but I don’t want a laundry list of ingredients in my breakfast bar, all with small amounts of protein and quality fiber. Inulin, chicory root, and wheat bran are often cheap sources of fiber added to these foods to bulk them up and increase fiber content. It’s much better to make your own bars at home with oats, flaxseed, chia seeds, some berries, banana, and Greek yogurt. Bake this up with your choice of sweetener like stevia or honey, and you’ve got a much healthier breakfast bar that your body can recognize more easily. Breakfast bars that are devoid in nutrients do nothing but require your body to use more energy to digest them, along with providing you with no real nutrients. Synthetic vitamins added to foods are not true sources of vitamins your body can recognize to use for energy like it can from whole foods.
6. Energy Drinks and Bars
I think this one goes without saying, but energy drinks and energy bars for that matter, are also foods that actually wreck your energy. Sure, at first you get a nice buzz and might feel great, but what about a couple of hours later? Chances are you’re tired, ill, and you have to consume another and another, just to keep up. If you really need some caffeine to jump start your day, have a cup of coffee or some green tea. Just be sure to go without the sugar, and choose stevia instead.
Bagels are another food people think are healthy, but usually one that leaves you pretty tired later on. Sure, bagels are a sources of carbohydrates to give you an energy burst, but they are loaded with carbohydrates that will send your insulin way up, and then way back down. Since they are much lower in fiber than whole grains, and contain very little protein if any, bagels are no better than a piece of bread for breakfast. Instead of having a bagel only to be tired and hungry an hour later, trying having something with more protein, and fewer starchy carbohydrates.
There are many more foods out there that wreck your energy. I’ve just named some of the top contenders that I hear people say they drink or eat for energy, that are actually doing them more harm than good. Do you have any to add to the list?