What Food Will Give Me Energy


What Food Will Give Me Energy? Energy is one of the most important things for us to have a healthy lifestyle. With energy, you’ll have the ability to accomplish everything that you need to be getting done every day. It’s amazing how much can get overlooked when we don’t have enough energy. I’m here to tell you though that it’s easy to get more energy in your everyday life with the right foods.

The formula for fuel

griddled chicken with pesto

“It’s about keeping your energy levels consistent,” says dietitian Dr Linia Patel. “Too often if you want an energy boost, you’ll get it with sugar, but then your blood sugar levels drop down again, and then guess what? You want another energy boost and you keep repeating this cycle.”

Dr Patel, a British Dietetic Association spokesperson, says you need to control blood sugar levels throughout the day without the massive peaks and troughs. “If you keep your blood sugar levels nice and stable, you’re not going to be going from one sugar rush to the next sugar rush.”

So, to stay properly fuelled you should pair nutrients up. “We need to stop looking at it as singular ingredients that will give us a boost. Instead meals and snacks should contain different nutrients which when combined, will work to give us a steady amount of energy.”

Nutritionist Jenna Hope agrees. “Ideally you want to aim for meals and snacks which are high in protein and fibre and/or healthy fats as these nutrients will help to keep you fuller for longer,” she says.

“Additionally, when you pair protein or healthy fats with carbohydrates the sugars are released more slowly into the blood stream which can help to support sustained energy and prevent energy spikes and crashes.”

How do certain foods affect your energy levels?

The first thing you need to know is that all foods give you energy in the form of calories, which are a measure of energy.

One calorie measures the amount of energy required to raise the temperature of 1 gram of water by 1 degree Celsius.

That said, not all foods affect your energy levels the same way.

Of the three macronutrients, carbohydrates provide a faster energy source compared with proteins and fats, as they’re your body’s preferred source of energy.

Nevertheless, carbs are categorized as simple and complex, as well as having a high or low glycemic index (GI). And once again, they affect your energy levels differently.

Simple vs. complex carbs

Simple carbs comprise either one or two sugar molecules, and they’re known as either monosaccharides and disaccharides, respectively. Because their structure is so small, they’re easier to digest and thus easily used for energy.

However, their fast digestion rate means that they cause a rapid rise in your blood sugar levels — and consequently your energy levels — which is usually followed by a crash that may leave you feeling sluggish.

Some examples of simple carbs you might want to limit to avoid such an effect include white bread, breakfast cereals, candy, fruit juice, and processed or refined grains with added sugars.

On the contrary, complex carbs comprise three or more sugar molecules and are known as oligosaccharides and polysaccharides.

Since their structure is more complex and they’re usually fiber-rich, they take longer to digest and thus provide a gradual increase in your blood sugar levels.

This means that complex carbs provide you with a steady supply of energy throughout the day.

Examples of complex-carb food sources you could try to include in your diet include unrefined whole grains, oats, legumes, and starches.

Glycemic index

Another way to determine how carbs may affect your energy levels is through their glycemic index, which tells you how a carb-containing food may affect your blood sugar levels.

Foods with a high GI tend to spike and then crash your blood sugar levels, much like simple carbs. In contrast, foods with a low GI — like complex carbs — aren’t known to cause abrupt variations in your blood sugar levels.

Research shows that high GI diets, which are high in sugars and low in fiber, are associated with reduced alertness and increased sleepiness.

The GI of foods may be especially relevant in the case of whole fruit and dairy.

Structurally, the carbs in fruit and dairy — fructose and lactose, respectively — are simple. Yet, they’re both nutrient rich, low GI foods that may provide a quick energy source without sacrificing your diet quality.

Nevertheless, keep in mind that fruit juices and flavored dairy products tend to have added sugars, and therefore a high GI.

What are the best foods to eat for energy?

All food provides the body with energy, but this energy can vary greatly. Some foods, such as sugars and refined carbs, give the body a quick jolt of energy. However, more often, the body needs more sustainable energy from ingredients such as fruits, grains, and legumes.

Foods That Give You Energy

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. 
  • 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.


The following drinks can help boost energy:


Water is the most crucial energizing ingredient on this list. Water is vital for every cell in the body to work correctly.

While most people think of dehydration as an extreme scenario, the body may become partially dehydrated if a person goes all morning without water.

Maintaining energy can be as simple as carrying a water bottle around and sipping it throughout the day to stay properly hydrated.


Coffee is a recognizable energy booster. The caffeine in coffee makes the body and mind feel alert and may make people more productive.

Coffee also contains antioxidants called polyphenols, which may reduce oxidative stress in the cells and help the body function better.

Coffee is a stimulant, however, so people should consume it in moderation. Too much coffee may lead to energy loss as the body withdraws from the caffeine.

Green tea

Green tea still contains small amounts of caffeine, but it also has compounds that may help reduce oxidative stress and inflammation in the body. The result may be a smoother transition than coffee to a more awake and energetic state.

Yerba maté

Yerba maté is a drink native to South America. Drinking the herb as a tea provides the body with similar stimulating effects as tea or coffee.

Yerba maté contains many active nutrients, antioxidants, and amino acids. People who drink yerba maté say it provides a much smoother form of energy by comparison to the jolt of energy from coffee.

As a study in the journal Nutrients notes, yerba maté may also improve mood and help people feel full, even after exercise, which may be helpful for those looking to lose weight while maintaining their energy levels.

Keeping your energy topped up

If you feel so tired you need a snack every few hours, go with it. Being awake does require more energy than sleeping, but sleep deprivation also causes hormone fluctuations that make you crave high-calorie foods. The challenge is to keep the body energised and satisfied until you can rest.

“If you’ve had just two hours sleep, I’d eat more regularly,” says Dr Patel, “having small, frequent snacks to keep going. But you have to keep the food balanced – so if you have carbohydrates also have protein with it.”

If you’re too tired to make anything but toast, wholegrain bread with a protein like nut butter will keep your energy steady. “Fair enough, if you want to add a little jam, you can, but then make sure you’ve got some fibre too – could you add something like raspberries? By doing this, you’re increasing how much work your body has to do, which is a positive thing.”

For a mid-morning snack, swap a digestive biscuit for a couple of dates and nuts, which are sweet but also have fibre and protein.

The key is to add to your diet though, not just remove things you see as unhealthy. For example if at lunch your normal go-to is a salad, make sure it’s a substantial one with protein and wholegrain carbs. “How about adding some fish, or chicken or lentils? Make sure you’ve got enough fibre, which we don’t eat enough of,” says Dr Patel.

“It’s how all the different foods work together as part of a healthy balanced diet and by eating frequently when you’re overtired, you’ll be keeping your blood sugar levels constant.”

Tips for Increasing and Maintaining Energy Levels Throughout the Day

  • Maintain Balanced Blood Sugar Levels – The energy from a well-balanced meal can last for up to 4 hours, so ideally you don’t want to go longer than this without eating. This means having 3 meals and 2 to 3 snacks spread out evenly over the day.
  • Avoid High Sugar Foods – High sugar foods can cause a spike in your blood sugar which causes your body to release too much insulin. The surplus insulin then creates a dip in blood sugar levels known as a “sugar crash”.
  • Choose the right combination of foods for your meals – The best combination for sustained energy that will last the full 4 hours is low GI carbohydrates combined with protein. Low GI carbohydrates release their energy slowly and gradually into the bloodstream. They include sweet potatoes and whole-grains such as oats, brown rice, and whole-wheat bread. Beans and lentils are great as they contain low GI carbohydrates and protein packaged conveniently together. Other good sources of protein include fish, chicken, lean meat, tofu, yogurt, nuts, and seeds.
  • Include some healthy sources of fat – Fats such as olive oil, nuts, and oily fish, will help you feel full and keep you from over-snacking.
  • Avoid too much caffeine – Too much caffeine actually depletes energy levels in the long term.

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