Reach for California Raisins for an on-the-go Natural Energy Boost

By Rick Miller, Clinical and Sports Dietitian, Harley Street, London

One of the most common complaints among patients in my clinic is a lack of energy.

After addressing the basics – their sleep pattern, any food sensitivities they may have and general stress-inducers such as their work/life balance – we talk about diet.

Reach for California Raisins: The Snack Sized Natural High by Rick MillerWhen we’re tired we tend to turn to refined carbohydrates: cakes, biscuits, fizzy drinks and anything with a high sugar content to give us that ‘buzz’. The problem is, that energy rush is short-lived.

Our bodies compensate for the sky-rocketing blood glucose (sugar) levels these foods induce by putting out a compensatory amount of insulin, the hormone that regulates blood sugar balance. Our blood glucose can then plummet, which often leaves us feeling more tired than before.

The solution is to reach for a natural pick-me-up with a medium to low Glycaemic Index (GI). The GI Scale is a measure of the blood glucose response to foods that contain carbohydrates and dietary sugars as we digest them.

The scale goes from 0 to 100, with foods like cakes, biscuits, pastries and fizzy drinks scoring 70 or above. These are the main culprits for the glucose spike. Those foods with a medium score of between GI 55-70 usually contain more dietary fibre, different types of sugars and protein or fats, all of which slow the energy release. Ripe bananas, traditionally dried fruit such as California Raisins and oatcakes all have a medium GI.

Finally, foods with a GI score of 55 or lower – including apples, berries, yoghurt, milk and nuts – provide the slowest energy release.

California Raisins are unique, naturally sweet and contain an equal balance of the sugars fructose and glucose. As fructose is digested slowly, the energy release is much more gradual.

In fact, a recent study highlighted how 10 healthy people given a serving (28g) of California Raisins as opposed to white bread, had a much lower blood glucose response over a 2 hour period.

In US studies involving patients who have Type II diabetes (the symptoms of which include low energy when blood glucose is not controlled) were given raisins as a snack. Results showed 16-23% lower blood glucose levels compared to their bodies’ reaction after eating processed snacks. Over a period of 12 weeks patients had a 19% lower fasting blood glucose level overall (source: studies in patients with type II diabetes)

So if you’re struggling with energy dips throughout the day, rather than reach for the biscuit tin, keep a snack-sized pack of California Raisins in your bag or desk drawer for a natural energy boost.

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About the Author:

Rick Miller is a registered Clinical and Sports Dietitian based in Harley Street, London.

You can find out more about Rick at