Every part of the body, from muscles to organs, needs energy to function. This energy comes from the food that we eat. But what foods give you energy? And what foods give you the most energy? This article will explore how our bodies break down food into energy and the best foods for energy.
How Does the Body Convert Food Into Energy?
The body digests the food we eat by mixing it with acids and enzymes in the stomach. As the stomach digests food, carbohydrates (sugars and starches) in the food break down into glucose. The stomach and small intestines then absorb this glucose, releasing it into the bloodstream. Once glucose is in the bloodstream, it can immediately be used for energy, or it can be stored to be utilized later. However, to use glucose for energy, our bodies need insulin. Without insulin, glucose will stay in the bloodstream, which keeps blood sugar levels high.
How Is Insulin Made?
Insulin is a hormone created by beta cells in the pancreas. Beta cells are susceptible to glucose and check the amount of glucose in the bloodstream every few seconds to regulate insulin production. For example, if you eat something high in carbohydrates, like a slice of bread, your glucose level will rise, and beta cells will trigger the pancreas to produce and release insulin into the bloodstream.
Insulin is released from the pancreas, traveling through the bloodstream to the body’s cells and instructing the cell doors to allow the glucose to enter. Once glucose is inside the cells, the process of converting it into energy to use now or store for later begins. As glucose leaves the bloodstream and enters the cells, blood sugar levels drop, and in turn, the beta cells in the pancreas regulate insulin production to match.
Creating Energy by Balancing Insulin and Glucose
Insulin and glucose will rise and fall throughout the day depending on what we eat, when we eat, and how much we eat. When insulin production works normally, glucose levels will be within 70-140 milligrams per deciliter. Although, even in people who don’t have diabetes, blood sugar levels can spike as high as 180 milligrams per deciliter after certain foods before dropping back to the normal range within two hours.
To create energy for our bodies to function correctly, we need to keep glucose balanced with the right amount of insulin.
Storing Energy for Later
Insulin also helps our bodies to store extra glucose to be used later. So, if you eat a large meal and your body doesn’t require all the glucose immediately, insulin will help your body store it and convert it into energy to use later. This happens through insulin converting the extra glucose into larger packages called glycogen, which is then stored in the liver and muscles.
Insulin also helps our bodies to store protein and fat. Almost every cell in the body needs protein to function. Plus, the body requires fat to protect nerves and support the production of hormones. In addition, fat can also be used as an energy source.
What Foods Give You the Most Energy?
Any food with calories will provide you with energy. However, while carbohydrates, proteins, and fats in food all provide calories and energy to your body, carbohydrates are the body’s preferred energy source. Carbohydrates can be quickly converted to glucose. However, protein in combination with carbohydrates slows the absorption process, giving your body energy for longer. Foods high in fat stimulate the production of serotonin in your brain, which can leave you feeling sluggish or low energy.
What to Eat to Give You Energy: 20 Best Foods for Energy
The best energy foods are those rich in carbohydrates, combined with protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats, creating a balanced diet that will provide you with stable energy levels throughout the day.
20 of the Best Foods for Energy:
- Nuts (cashews in particular)
- Low-fat dairy products such as Greek yogurt
- Whole grains such as brown rice
- Citrus fruit
- Sweet potatoes
When to Speak to a Doctor About Low energy
If you’re frequently feeling tired or low on energy [Link to April – Feeling Tired?], there may be several things at play, from poor diet to low testosterone. If you’re sleeping well, exercising, and eating a balanced diet, consider speaking with a doctor or healthcare provider to discuss your concerns.
At Opt Health, our team of men’s vitality doctors can provide you with specialized advice. Speak to an expert physician one-on-one over video conferencing, get test results, and medication delivered, all from the comfort of your own home.