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What to eat to boost your energy levels

The quality of your eating habit has a huge impact on how you feel, and if you are constantly running out of gas, then this is a sure sign that you need to start eating better. Healthy foods will keep your blood sugar levels steady, thus preventing these highs and lows that make it hard to get through the day without a snooze.

Here is our top 10 list of foods which will keep your energy levels topped up.

1. Green tea

Forget sugary fizzy pop and highly caffeinated drinks when you need an energy boost - green tea is the beverage for you. Green tea does deliver a caffeine pick-me-up, but contains much less than your regular latte, which means it packs a punch without overdoing it and, once again, you're less likely to come crashing back down to earth 30 minutes later.Green tea is also packed full of antioxidants, which help prevent free radical damage to your cells and protect your body from conditions such as cancer and heart disease.

2. Brown rice

The humble rice kernel supplies half of the daily calories for half of the world's population, but if you opt for white rice you aren't fully benefiting from its amazing energy-giving properties. During the milling and polishing process, white rice is stripped of almost all of its B vitamins, manganese, phosphorus, iron, dietary fibre and essential fatty acids, all of which we need for energy (especially the B vitamins and manganese, which helps convert protein and carbohydrates into energy). Brown rice, on the other hand, has only been robbed of its outer layer, the hull, so its nutritional value remains intact. The same rules apply to other 'good' forms of carbohydrate, which are the body's preferred source of fuel and even raise serotonin levels.

Choose whole-grain bread, pasta, and cereals as well as rice to keep blood sugar and energy levels stable.

3. Honey

When you are forced to cut down on high-calorie processed foods, it's normal to miss the sweet taste of some of your favourite sugary snacks. Honey, a natural wonder-food, will satisfy your sweet tooth while also giving you a much-needed injection of energy. Honey is a healthy source of carbohydrates, which are the building blocks of energy, and is famous for its ability to give you a 'hit' just when you need it; runners often have honey on toast a few hours before a race for this very reason.Honey contains glucose and fructose, and it's this combination which is behind the energy kick - glucose provides the instant boost while fructose contributes to a more sustained release of energy.

4. Water

Avoid the midday slump by taking on enough water each day, as this has been shown to improve alertness, concentration, cognitive function and light a fire under your body's metabolic rate - so it will help keep your weight down too. Water is essential for carrying out numerous chemical processes in the body, such as getting rid of waste and carrying important nutrients to your cells, so without it you'll quickly become dehydrated and fatigued. While thirst is a sign you need water, don't wait until your resources are depleted. Aim for 6-8 medium sized glasses a day. As well as drinking enough water to keep your energy levels up, it's also important to avoid fluids that will make you feel sluggish.

Cut down on caffeine to prevent those artificial highs, while also limiting alcohol, which can act as a depressant and interrupt your sleep patterns.

5. Nuts

Many people shy away from nuts because of their high fat content, but they should play a key role in your healthy, balanced diet. Nuts like cashews, almonds, hazelnuts and Brazils are rich in unsaturated fat, the 'good' kind, so as long as you eat them in moderation, you won't have to worry about piling on the pounds. These nuts also contain a bounty of magnesium, which the body needs to convert sugar into energy. Brazil nuts will also pump you full of selenium, which is thought to improve general mood. Finally, eating peanut butter (again, not too much of it) with whole-grain bread or bagel is the perfect strategy for keeping your blood sugar levels steady.

6. Seeds

Cast aside any preconceived notions about seeds being tantamount to bird food, for these are a viable snack that offer an energy kick and numerous health benefits. Pumpkin seeds, for example, are rich in magnesium, iron, copper, zinc and protein, all of which you need on a daily basis to keep you feeling energetic. Though surprisingly calorific - 100g of pumpkin seeds provides over 500 calories - much of this comes from fatty acids which work to increase the levels of good cholesterol in your blood so are much more preferable to the empty calories you get from a bag of crisps. Sunflower seeds, meanwhile, are full of vitamins E and B6, selenium and manganese, as well as a healthy mix of fats, carbohydrates and proteins.

7. Lentils

A great source of protein and carbohydrates, lentils are also low in fat and calories, meaning they'll keep you feeling full up and satisfied without adding to your waistline. They are also rich in B vitamins, iron, magnesium, potassium and zinc - all of which your body needs to keep energy levels revved up. Beans, meanwhile, are packed with fibre, which results in a slow release of glucose and sustained energy throughout the day, rather than the short spike in blood sugar that higher GI foods - such as white rice and pasta - can cause.

8. Green leafy vegetables

Eating greens will turbo-charge your energy levels. Spinach and other green leafy vegetables such as kale contain nitrates, which boost the part of the cells that provide the body with energy. These are among the most nutrient-rich foods you can find, containing umpteen vitamins, minerals and antioxidants which reduce stress responses in the body - meaning you can put your energy to better use. Green leafy veggies are also rich in folate, which can reduce the risk of depression.

9. Fresh fruit

Fruits like oranges and strawberries are packed full of vitamin C and also deliver a mother lode of fructose, aka natural sugar. Blueberries are also an excellent choice when you begin to slip into an afternoon coma; the vit C and niacin combination helps the body to convert food into energy, while also satisfying your sweet tooth. Bananas, meanwhile, have been referred to as 'nature's Mars Bar', and just one can give you enough of a kick for a 45-minute workout. This is because bananas contain fructose, glucose, sucrose and fibre, which combine to give you an instant but sustained energy boost.

Finally, we need bananas for potassium, a nutrient which the body is unable to store for long and without which we begin to experience a slump.

10. Chocolate

Yes, chocolate! What is more important is making sure you choose the right varieties of your favourite treats so as not to compromise your health. As far as chocolate goes, turn your back on bog-standard, trans-fat saturated brands and swap for something that won't sap your energy levels and add some chub to your figure. Chocolate will always contain sugar and fat so don't eat huge quantities of it, but a couple of squares of high-quality dark chocolate can work wonders when you are trying to emerge from a slump. Numerous studies have shown that chocs can raise energy levels; the bioactive compounds in cocoa also work towards healthy blood flow and blood pressure.

If you want to be ultra-virtuous, forgo the chocolate entirely and buy yourself a block of raw cacao and grate it over certain foods (it's particularly good with porridge!).