10 WLS-Friendly Foods to Eat for EnergyDecember 2, 2016
Many people associate carbohydrate-rich foods by providing energy. However, as most weight loss surgery patients know, the post-operative diet is limited in carbohydrates due to their ability to cause weight regain. Fortunately, there are several other foods that are capable of providing you with long-lasting energy, despite having a lower carbohydrate makeup. If you feel like you’ve been dragging, give some of these energy-boosting WLS-friendly foods a try.
10 WLS-Friendly Foods to Eat for Energy
Beans are a super-food, as they are comprised of a favorable mix of fiber, carbohydrates, and protein. Just ½ cup of black beans contains 25% of your recommended daily value of fiber and the amount of protein in one egg- all for less than the number of digestible carbohydrates in one piece of fruit. The slow-digesting type of carbohydrates in beans will provide you with longer-lasting energy and more stabilized blood glucose levels than your typical processed carbohydrates. Beans are also loaded with folate, a B vitamin essential for energy metabolism. Low levels of folate are associated with fatigue, decreased cognitive ability, and megaloblastic anemia, so getting enough folate is key for optimal energy. Overall, beans are the complete package for weight loss and energy.
Winter squashes (like acorn, butternut, delicata, kabocha, and spaghetti) are often overlooked for their amazing energy-boosting abilities. Like beans, winter squash contains slower-digesting carbohydrates, but in a smaller amount than your typical starch. One serving of the average winter squash contains only one-third of the number of digestible carbohydrates found in one serving of a regular potato, making it a worthy and tasty substitute. Winter squashes are loaded with beta-carotene, a precursor to vitamin A, which is converted to active vitamin A in your body. Vitamin A helps your cells reproduce and keeps your immune system strong. A lack of vitamin A will have an adverse effect on your energy level. Each type of winter squash has its own additional health benefits and flavors. Be sure to sample them all to find your favorites.
Light Greek Yogurt
If you’re a post-operative patient, it’s likely that you’re already familiar with Greek yogurt. Light Greek yogurt (Greek yogurt with <7 grams of sugar per serving) is packed with about 15 grams of protein, but also contains the naturally-occurring carbohydrates and sugars from the milk it is made from. Greek yogurt will give you an initial bump of energy from its small amount of healthy carbohydrates, but then it will sustain your satiety and energy long-term with its tremendous amount of protein. Greek yogurt contains calcium and is usually fortified with vitamin D, which helps calcium to be absorbed. Calcium is vital for bone health, muscle movement, and it also participates in energy metabolism to keep you at your best. These are just a few reasons to continue eating your light Greek yogurt even after you’ve been upgraded to solids foods.
Salmon is uniquely loaded with protein, vitamins D, B-12, and B-1, and omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3’s help reduce inflammation in the body, increase brain function and mood, and improve the transfer of information between cells. All of these factors will help increase your energy and improve your quality of physical activity. Vitamins B12 and B1 (thiamin) are extremely important in energy metabolism, and deficiencies in these vitamins will cause fatigue, weakness, difficulty concentrating, and mental changes. Eating salmon regularly will help you to keep all of these cellular processes in line to assure that you’re energized. It will also provide you with substantial amounts of protein to keep you satiated and on track with your weight loss goals.
Don’t forget to eat your eggs, and please don’t throw out the yolks! Egg yolks are one of the best food sources of choline, a micronutrient that is involved with brain function, muscle movement, and energy metabolism. The egg yolk also contains almost half of the protein content in the egg, so when you discard it, you are losing a good amount of that important protein. One large egg contains 35% your daily value of choline, along with a good amount of B12 and biotin, and a fair amount of vitamin D. Eggs are great to boost your energy in the morning for breakfast, but boiled eggs also serve as wonderful on-the-go snacks when you’re feeling fatigued.
Hummus is a popular low-calorie Mediterranean dip made from chickpeas, tahini, olive oil, and spices. It is well rounded in protein, digestible carbohydrates, and fat, making it the perfect food to add to your vegetables for sustainable energy and increased satiety. Chickpeas are also extremely high in molybdenum, which is a trace mineral important for your nervous system and mitochondrial functioning. Mitochondria are the “powerhouse” of the cell, meaning they help create the molecules we use for energy. Next time you are starting to get bored with your veggies, consider adding 2-3 tablespoons of this energy-sustaining dip.
Try using carrots for an energy boost when you’re craving something sweet. Carrots may be higher in sugar than some of the other vegetables, but they still contain a good amount of fiber and are low in calories so that they perpetuate weight loss. Carrots will provide you with a little bit of natural sugar to get you going, but will not cause an energy boost followed by a crash because they are fairly low on the glycemic index. The glycemic index measures the effect various foods have on our blood sugar levels, therefore, low glycemic foods provide us with longer-lasting energy. Like winter squash, carrots are loaded with beta-carotene to help you with cell reproduction and immune system function. Try dipping your carrot sticks in hummus for a well-rounded and energy-enhancing snack.
This leafy green vegetable is jam-packed with vitamins and minerals to keep your energy levels up. It contains many antioxidant nutrients, such as vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin C, selenium, and manganese. These antioxidants help protect our bodies against inflammation, which can take a toll on our health and energy level. Spinach is also high in magnesium, which is an important cofactor for energy production inside our cells. Whether it is raw or cooked, make sure to eat your spinach for a boost!
Also known as the soybean, edamame is another superstar of the legume family. When eaten in its unprocessed form, it is exceptionally high in protein for a plant food, packing in 8.5 g per ½ cup. Edamame is also well rounded in fat, digestible carbohydrates, and fiber, making it the perfect food to help you go the distance. As an added bonus, it is also loaded in molybdenum and contains good amounts of omega-3’s and iron. Low iron can lead to anemia, which also causes fatigue and weakness, so it is important to get enough of it. If you are getting sick of your typical protein sources, start cycling edamame into the mix for some exceptional plant-based protein.
In general, berries tend to have less sugar than other types of fruits. If you are craving something sweet and need an energy boost, try choosing strawberries. They have a small amount of natural sugar to give you energy, but their low glycemic index will prevent a blood sugar spike. Keeping your blood sugar stable will help sustain your energy level long-term. Strawberries are also very high in the antioxidant vitamin C and contain a good amount of manganese to counteract that energy-draining inflammation. Try pairing your strawberries with a protein (like light Greek yogurt) to keep you satiated longer and your energy going even further.
Remember to always strive for a balance between protein-rich foods and healthy carbohydrates in order to assure long-lasting energy without the extra calories.
ABOUT THE AUTHORAlysha Gebo MS, RD, LDN is a Registered Dietitian who specializes in obesity management and bariatric surgery. She works for the Steward Centers for Weight Control at two clinics on the south shore of Massachusetts. Alysha received her Undergraduate degree in dietetics from Framingham State University, and her Masters degree in Psychology, specializing in disordered eating, from California Southern University.
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