Okay, so if you did not already know, your body converts the food you eat into glucose. Glucose is stored in your body as glycogen which your muscles use as energy. Muscles do not really care what the original source of the glucose is, but there are foods which are higher in potential glucose and those that are more readily converted into glucose1. That being said, no one food will serve as a “best source” of glucose. It is important develop an overall diet that includes many potential sources of glucose2. All diets consist of carbohydrate, protein and fat, and your body gets glucose from all three nutritional components. However, the type of food that is most readily converted to glucose, and thus energy, is carbohydrate. The amounts of each of the three nutritional components we consume affect how quickly your body digests the carbohydrates and how quickly it is available for energy. Meals that consist of a large percentage of fat considerably slow the absorption of carbohydrate and negatively affect the rate at which it can be converted to glucose3. Just as not all types of foods are the best source of glucose, so are not all types of carbohydrate the best source for long term energy. Refined carbohydrates, things like white rice, breads not made with whole grains, potatoes and corn syrup, will give you a quick burst of energy, but are quickly burned through and will leave you feeling sluggish within a half hour of consumption4. In order to avoid these “crashes” you might want to consider adding some the foods listed below to your diet. They will help to ensure that your body has an adequate supply of glycogen when comes time for practice and competition, thus allowing you to perform at peak levels. Good luck!
Nuts- Nuts like almonds, walnuts, pecans and cashews contain protein for endurance and coenzyme Q10, a nutrient that helps produce energy inside our cells. This combination makes them an ideal fuel choice for both a quick energy jolt and long-term endurance.
Low-Fat Yogurt- The same amino acid that makes lean meat such a good choice for relieving fatigue and sluggishness can also be found in yogurt. Choose fat-free or low-fat Greek yogurt to eliminate added sugar and get even more protein.
Beans Lean protein, iron, B-vitamins and amino acids make beans an obvious go-to for energy, but another big benefit comes from their fiber content. Fiber slows digestion, giving your body a longer-term source of energy.
Green Smoothies- Take the energy-packing power of leafy greens, Greek yogurt, apples and bananas, and combine it with any other fruits you like.
Leafy Greens Spinach, Kale, Arugula and Chard- Virtually every variety of leafy greens is flavorful, packed with vitamins and minerals, and a low-calorie addition to your meals. Not only do they contain vitamins C and A, which are important for energy levels, they also contain depression-fighting foliate. If you don’t like eating greens, remember you add them to your green smoothies!
Hummus- Hummus combines the protein of chickpeas and sesame-based tahini with vitamin-C-packed lemon juice and the essential fatty acids in olive oil. Eat it with strips of red bell pepper and some baby carrots for triple benefits.
Bananas-A favorite of bodybuilders, bananas offer potassium, which helps muscles contract properly, as well as the fruit sugars fructose and glucose.
Pumpkin seeds- Like nuts, pumpkin seeds contain muscle-sustaining protein, vitamins and healthy fats. They're also full of magnesium, which helps convert food into energy.
Apples Fiber, vitamin C and antioxidants have a lot of energy-boosting power on their own, but apples also contain fructose, which is quickly and efficiently processed by our bodies for energy.
Eggs, Lean Meats Skinless Chicken, Turkey and other lean cuts of meat contain the amino acid tyrosine, which helps fight fatigue. They also have lots of iron, B-vitamins and the protein your muscles need for endurance whether you're working out, competing in an athletic event5.
If you are feeling ambitious, Wheat Grass, if you haven’t tried wheat grass then you’re missing out on some big time energy and nutrition 1 oz. of wheat grass juice packs more nutrition than 2.5 lbs. of green leafy veggies6.