Dr Sally Norton, NHS weight loss consultant surgeon, picks her ultimate healthy energy-boosters
Autumn is just asking to be embraced with a brisk walk in the fresh air and fallen leaves. Ideally with some gentle sunshine too…but let’s not push our luck! Whether you are planning a full-on muscle-toning power walk, or a gentle stride for an hour or two, it’s worth having an energy boost to hand. But don’t undo the good work of your walk by tucking into processed snacks that provide calories but little in the way of nutrition. Your body, like your car, runs better on premium fuel. Instead, choose one of these healthy and easy snacks the next time you get up and go.
On-the-go snacks don’t come any easier than bananas – they’re ready-wrapped and full of fruit sugar. This is a good way to get an instant energy fix as the sugar found in fruit comes with fibre, making it less harmful – in fact it doesn’t even count in the new recommendations of just six teaspoons of sugar per day. What’s more, bananas contain vitamins and minerals, and have been shown to be as good as a sports drink in providing energy during exercise.
A handful of almonds a day (around 30g) has been shown to reduce your risk of heart disease. Almonds contain healthy fats, protein, vitamin E and plenty of other important nutrients. For extra calories and energy, mix these nuts with a handful of raisins or other dried fruit. One handful counts as one of your five-a-day. Don’t overdo it with the nuts and raisins if you are watching your weight though – they are calorie-dense, and it’s easy to munch through more than you intended!
3 Dried chickpeas
Dried snacks made from chickpeas or other pulses provide heaps of fibre, and are digested slowly, so blood sugar spikes and slumps are less likely to occur. They’re easy to make – simply drain a tin of chickpeas, blot them dry and toss in a little olive oil to coat, mixed in with some spices of your choice. Why not try cumin, cayenne pepper, chilli powder or sea salt? Spread the pulses on a tray in a single layer and bake until golden and crisp at around 150C/300F/Gas 2 for approximately 30 minutes.
For a more substantial snack, sandwiches still reign supreme. Forget soggy white bread and processed fillings, though. Wholemeal bread packed full of nutritious seeds and fibre gives more sustained energy and tastes better, too. Pure nut butter (check the label or make your own to avoid added sugar and hydrogenated fats) is a nutritious and easy filling for an on-the-go snack. Try cashew nut butter as an alternative that’s high in magnesium. Add fresh strawberries or banana for a healthy take on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
Yes, chocolate! There’s nothing like a few squares to boost the spirit as well as the energy levels – just make sure it’s good-quality dark chocolate, as the high cocoa content provides antioxidants which benefit heart health, memory and more.
6 Energy bar
Your standard granola and cereal bars are usually packed with sugar. These can cause blood sugar fluctuations, which leave you feeling lethargic. Homemade versions using oats, nuts, seeds and less sugar provide sustained energy and essential fats. With only a little honey added for sweetness, you won’t get the low-energy slumps.