5 best foods to fuel your day (and 5 to avoid)

If you can't make it through your day, read this.

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  • Your body is an incredible machine. In the time it takes you to read this article (approximately five minutes) your heart will beat 400 times, your blood will travel the equivalent of eight miles and your brain will have 30 billion chemical reactions.

  • All that activity and more is why it's so important to keep your body in tip-top shape. So here are the five best foods to fuel your day and keep your body going:

  • 1. Water

  • Although water is not technically a food, it is absolutely essential to keep your body running smoothly. Water keeps your joints lubricated, your body waste-free and your temperature normal. The Mayo Clinic recommends drinking 11.5 cups of water per day for women and 15.5 cups of water per day for men.

  • 2. Eggs

  • Not only are eggs packed with protein, but they are inexpensive and easy to cook. Scramble them, poach them, add veggies and make an omelette with them. Any way you take them will give you about six grams of protein per serving, which will fill you up and keep you alert all morning.

  • 3. Spinach

  • There's a reason Popeye ate spinach when he needed a boost of strength and energy. A serving of spinach is about four cups and only has 20 calories. It will give you a huge boost of vitamin A for your vision, antioxidants for your skin and iron for your energy. Add it to a smoothie, scrambled eggs, a sandwich or a salad.

  • 4. Apples

  • Did you know one apple can give you as much energy as a cup of coffee? All that energy in the morning without the inevitable crash or staining your teeth make apples a go-to breakfast fruit. The average 25 grams of natural sugar per apple is a slow-burning fructose, which gives you steady energy. In addition, apples have eight percent daily value of Vitamin C and five grams of fiber, which will give you the fuel you need to be fresh and alert at any point of the day.

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  • 5. Iron from meats or nuts

  • A three-ounce serving size (about the size of a deck of cards) of meat provides up to 22 grams of protein and five percent daily value of iron. If you're feeling tired or groggy, it may be a case of iron deficiency, which causes fatigue. And for the vegan or vegetarian, there are plenty of meatless ways to get your daily dose of protein and iron like nuts, tofu or beans.

  • Food to avoid

  • 1. Energy bars

  • Many energy bars are actually packed with sugar and carbohydrates. This combination will give you a boost of energy but will cause you to crash later or feel hungry after just a few hours.

  • 2. Specialty coffee drinks

  • The number one thing that will derail an energetic day and a healthy lifestyle is drinking your calories. Specialty coffee drinks can contain up to 70 grams of sugar and 450 calories. Unless you have time for a mid-morning nap, stay away from these drinks.

  • 3. Pastries

  • Muffins, doughnuts and cakes will quickly zap your energy just like specialty coffee drinks because of their high sugar content. The sugar rush will leave you feeling exhausted after just a few hours. If you just can't stay away from these treats, try making low-sugar versions or limiting yourself to one a day.

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  • 4. Fried foods

  • Frying foods adds fat, making you feel lethargic and bloated. Not to mention the fact that many fried foods like chicken, buffalo wings and onion rings are breaded, which adds to the fat content. On top of that, french fries, mozzarella sticks and anything else you can fry usually has a lot of added salt.

  • 5. Soda

  • Soda is just another sugary drink with no nutritional value. The average can of soda contains about 33 grams of sugar and almost no vitamins, minerals or proteins. An occasional soda can be a nice treat, but drinking soda everyday will be a major energy zapper.

  • Try adding the top five body-fueling foods to your diet and nix the top five energy zappers, then see how your energy levels change. Getting the right amounts of protein, iron and water will help you face anything that comes your way.

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Rachel is a graphic designer and photographer with a passion for visual communication. At any given time you will find her with Illustrator, Photoshop, and InDesign open and a bag of chocolate-covered pretzels on her desk.

Website: http://rachelredford.com

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