You’re more than just your energy levels. You’re a collection of habits, thoughts, and emotions. That’s why we created this website to help people everywhere make better eating choices that keep their body and mind in top shape.
Best Food For Energy
Doesn’t All Food Boost Energy?
Yes, but in different ways. Sugary drinks, candy, and pastries put too much fuel (sugar) into your blood too quickly. The ensuing crash leaves you tired and hungry again. “Complex carbs,” healthy fats, and protein take longer to digest, satisfy your hunger, and provide a slow, steady stream of energy.
It’s a complex carbohydrate. That means it’s full of fiber and nutrients. Oatmeal is slower to digest and supplies energy evenly instead of all at once, and it is whole grain and gluten-free. A bowl in the morning will keep you going for hours.
A single one has just 70 calories, and yet has 6 grams of protein. That provides fuel that gets released slowly. It also has more nutrients per calorie than most other foods. That helps it satisfy hunger. As a result, you’re more likely to skip that mid-morning doughnut in the office break room that will spike your blood sugar and crash your energy.
Trimmed of skin, it’s a great source of lean protein. A piece of grilled chicken with some steamed or lightly dressed greens makes a perfect light lunch that won’t weigh you down and will fuel you steadily until dinner. And chicken has less of that unhealthy saturated fat than other meats like pork, beef, and lamb.
Without enough vitamin B12, your energy can lag. This is one of the best sources. It also has loads of protein to keep you fueled for a long time. If you just can’t do liver, you can get your B12 from meat, poultry, fish, and eggs.
Besides being a good source of low-fat protein, they’re loaded with zinc. That helps your body fight off germs that could run you down and make you feel tired. Try them raw with a squeeze of lemon when they’re in season, or roast them in the oven or on the grill.
They’re a great source of protein, especially if you’re vegetarian or vegan. Beans also have plenty of fiber to help slow digestion. They’re rich in magnesium, too. That helps your cells make energy.
They’re not for everyone, but sardines do provide high-quality animal protein for steady energy. They also have loads of omega-3 “marine” fatty acids (EPA and DHA) that help prevent heart disease. If they’re just too fishy for you, try salmon, tuna, or mackerel.
It’s those omega-3s again. Walnuts have one in particular that your body uses for energy (alpha-linolenic acid). Though nuts are high in calories, studies show that people who eat them don’t gain weight or have other signs of bad health from them. That could be because the fiber slows how your body takes them in and the “healthy” fats satisfy hunger.
It’s where many of us get our morning caffeine jolt. And it works. It boosts your energy and keeps you more alert. Just don’t overdo it. Caffeine can make you jittery and interfere with your sleep if you have too much, you’re not used to it, or you have it late in the day.
A simple cup of tea is a low-calorie way to replace sugary sodas and soft drinks that can spike and then crash your energy levels in the middle of the day. That switch makes you more likely to get the nutrients and fluids you need each day, which can help keep you alert and energized. Some teas have caffeine that can give you a little boost, too.
Blueberries, blackberries, strawberries: They’re perfect if you want something sweet that doesn’t have the calorie blast and “sugar crash” of a doughnut or candy bar. Berries also have antioxidants and other nutrients that help nourish and protect cells all over your body.
If you just have to have candy, this is a good choice. It’s lower in sugar than candy bars and milk chocolate. It’s also been shown to improve mood and brain function. Antioxidants in the cocoa can help protect cells, lower blood pressure, and improve blood flow. This can keep you healthy and energized. Dark chocolate does have fat, so check the label and keep portions small.
When your body doesn’t have enough, you get tired. It also helps carry fuel and nutrients to your cells and helps get rid of waste. People who drink more of it usually take in less fat, sugar, salt, cholesterol, and total calories. That leaves more room for healthy nutrients that keep you energized. It’s especially important to drink up when you exercise. Have 8 ounces before and after your workouts — more if your circuit is longer than 30 minutes.
Foods for Exercise
The best fuel for exercise is carbohydrates, preferably “complex” ones like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Healthy fats from fish, nuts, vegetable oils, and avocados can help fuel endurance sports like long-distance running. Protein can help boost an immune system worn down by exercise. It can also repair muscle that tears naturally when you strengthen it, like when you lift weights, for example.
Foods That Give You Energy
If you plan it right, what you eat can help keep you healthy and energized all day long. The key is to maintain balanced blood sugar levels and to eat meals made up of low glycemic index carbohydrates combined with protein and small amounts of healthy fats. A well-balanced meal can keep you fueled for as long as four hours, so another pro tip is to eat every four hours or so, to keep a steady flow of energy. The worst foods to eat for sustained energy are high-sugar foods because they cause your blood sugar to quickly rise, triggering the release of too much insulin, which triggers a plunge in blood sugar levels, AKA a sugar crash.
Steady energy feels great. To optimize your daily energy level, try adding some of these foods into your meal plan.
- Oatmeal. The complex carbs in oatmeal mean it’s a slow-burning source of energy. Oats also boost serotonin production which can help us manage stress and enhance learning and memory function. Caveat: sugar-packed packets of flavored instant oats are worth avoiding. Make your own instead and load them up with berries, bananas and a drizzle of maple or honey for a healthy treat of a breakfast.
- Bananas. One of the best foods for energy, whether frozen and blended into a smoothie, sliced onto oatmeal or eaten on the go. They’re full of complex carbohydrates, vitamin B6, potassium and even a little protein.
- Yogurt. The carbs in yogurt are mainly in the form of simple sugars, such as lactose and galactose. When broken down, these sugars can provide ready-to-use energy. Greek yogurt is an especially good choice. Top with fresh berries and a drizzle of local honey or maple syrup.
- Sesame seeds. Toasted sesame seeds add a little crunch and flavor to salads, soups, stir fries and more. They’re chock full of magnesium, which helps convert sugar into energy, plus they’ve got a blood-sugar-stabilizing dose of healthy fat and fiber.
- Cinnamon. Cinnamon works to keep blood sugar levels stable, therefore it also helps to stabilize your energy levels. One teaspoon of cinnamon contains as many antioxidants as half a cup of blueberries, one of the most antioxidant-rich foods. Shake a little into your yogurt or add a dash to your coffee.
- Water. Dehydration is a certain cause of low energy and even brain fog. Feel a slump? A nice tall glass of cool water might just do the trick.
- Beans. Whether you opt for pinto, Great Northern, red, black or Anasazi beans, or any of the hundreds of other varieties, they share a similar nutrient profile. They digest slowly, which stabilizes blood sugar. They also contain antioxidants, fiber, protein and carbs. Beans are great sources of folic acid, iron and magnesium, which help produce energy and deliver it to our cells.
- Lentils are tasty little legumes, rich in carbs and fiber. Just one cup of cooked lentils contains about 15 grams of fiber and 36 grams of carbs. Lentils are energy powerhouses, upping your energy levels by replenishing your stores of iron, folate, zinc and manganese. These nutrients help break nutrients down and help with cellular energy production.
- Hummus. Chickpeas in hummus are a good source of complex carbs and fiber, which your body can use for steady energy. The tahini (sesame seed paste) and olive oil in hummus contain healthy fats and slow the absorption of carbs, which helps us avoid blood sugar spikes.
- Dates are high in natural sugars, so if you need a quick burst of energy mid-day, instead of going for a second cup of coffee go for a handful of dates. Or, if you don’t like plain dates, whip up some energy balls or oatmeal bars packed with dates and cinnamon to fight the mid-day slump. Dates contain vitamins and minerals like iron, manganese, copper, potassium and magnesium, in addition to fiber and antioxidants.
- Brown rice is a very nutritious, satisfying food. It’s less processed than white rice which allows it to hang onto more nutritional value in the form of vitamins, fiber and minerals. Just a half-cup of brown rice packs two grams of fiber and lots of your recommended daily intake of manganese, a mineral needed for enzymes to break down carbs and proteins, turning them into energy. It’s also low on the glycemic index, meaning it could help regulate blood sugar levels and promote steady energy levels throughout the day.
- Avocados. They’re a superfood! Avocados are rich in ‘good’ fats, fiber and B vitamins. Around 85% of the fat in avocados is from monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids, which promote healthy blood-fat levels and boost the absorption of nutrients. About 80% of the carb content in avocados is made up of fiber, which means delicious, sustained energy.
- Sardines & fatty fish. According to an article from Harvard School of Public Health, fish and other seafood are the major sources of healthful long-chain omega-3 fats and are also rich in other nutrients such as vitamin D and selenium. Fatty fish is high in protein and low in saturated fat. There is also strong evidence that eating fish or taking fish oil is good for your heart and blood vessels. In addition to boosting your energy, eating fish once or twice a week may also reduce the risk of stroke, depression, Alzheimer’s disease and other chronic conditions.
- Eggs are satisfying and packed with protein, which means steady and sustained energy. They also contain leucine, an amino acid known to stimulate energy production in several ways. It helps cells take in more blood sugar, stimulates energy production in the cells and ups the breakdown of fat to produce energy. Eggs are also rich in B vitamins, which help enzymes perform their roles in the process of turning food into energy.
- Shrimp. These versatile little critters are low in calories and offer nice helpings of vitamin B12 and omega-3 fat, a known mood and energy booster.
- Cashews are low in sugar and rich in fiber, heart-healthy fats, and plant protein. They’re a solid source of copper, magnesium and manganese which are key ingredients for energy production, healthy bones brain health and immunity.
- Sweet potatoes are a great source of iron, magnesium and vitamin C, a nutrient needed for energy production. Add to that a healthy dose of fiber (complex carbs) and these nutritional powerhouses are also rocket boosters for your energy level.