Slow Energy-release Foods

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In addition to improved nutritional wellness, a healthy diet is important for positive energy levels. In general, foods that promote blood sugar balance, such as fiber and protein-rich foods, promote longer-lasting, or slow-release, energy than processed foods. These foods also provide ample nutritional benefits and support heart health, digestive function and weight control. Your energy needs vary significantly, depending upon your size and physical activity level. For best results, seek specific guidance from a qualified professional.

Whole Grains

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Whole grains are complex carbohydrates, meaning they digest more slowly than simple carbohydrates such as sugar and white flour. Whole grains also provide valuable amounts of nutrients and fiber and promote long-lasting, stable energy, according to the "Merck Manual of Medical Information" by Mark H. Beers. For best results, replace refined grain products -- such as enriched white and wheat bread, cereals and instant rice -- with whole-grain equivalents. Examples of nutritious whole grains include bulgur, whole wheat, spelt, millet, barley, quinoa, brown rice, wild rice, popcorn and oats. When purchasing breads, cereals, pasta and baked goods, check food packaging to ensure that whole grains are listed as primary ingredients.

Starchy Vegetables

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Starchy vegetables such as baked potatoes, sweet potatoes, winter squash and pumpkin are additional complex carbohydrate varieties that provide nutritious, energy-enhancing alternatives to potato chips, french fries and other processed snack foods. Starchy vegetables are valuable sources of vitamin C, and sweet potatoes, squash and pumpkin are particularly high sources of beta carotene. Starchy vegetables also support your body's ability to defend itself from infections and diseases that can damage your energy levels and overall health.

Protein-rich Foods

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Protein provides amino acids -- the building blocks of lean tissue. Protein-rich foods also enhance brain function, lean tissue repair and blood sugar balance. A study published in "The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition" in January 2006 showed a positive correlation between increased protein consumption and positive energy levels. In the study, 12 women, ages 18 to 40, consumed a protein-sufficient diet containing 10 percent protein, 60 percent carbohydrates and 30 percent fat, or they consumed a high-protein diet containing 30 percent protein, 40 percent carbohydrates and 30 percent fat. The energy levels and satiety of the participants were measured for 24 hours. Researchers discovered that the women who consumed the high-protein diet demonstrated improved energy levels and satiation between meals compared to the control group. To reap potentially similar benefits, incorporate protein-rich foods into your diet. These foods include lean meat and poultry, low-fat dairy products, legumes and fish.