Eating for Energy: 25 of the Best Foods for Keeping You Alert and Productive
Do you often feel tired during the day? Do you find yourself reaching for caffeine or other pick-me-ups to get by?
Many people find themselves fighting off fatigue during the day and relying on stimulants to stay alert.
If you want to keep up your energy, alertness, and productivity naturally, you may want to pay attention to the type of food and nutrients you are consuming.
Here is our list of 25 of the best foods to help keep you energized.
Best Foods For Energy
Nuts such as walnuts, brazil nuts, cashews, and almonds are packed with an abundance of high-quality carbs, protein, and healthy fats that can help provide sustained energy. They also contain:
- Omega fatty acids
- B vitamins (energy all-stars!)
- Vitamin E
Eggs are full of high-quality protein and nutrients to keep you satisfied and sustained. Some of the star nutrients in eggs include:
- Vitamin D
- Amino acids such as leucine (a nutrient proven to stimulate energy production in cells)
- B vitamins
3. Brown Rice
Brown rice offers fibre, minerals, vitamins, and healthy complex carbs. Brown rice also supplies manganese, a mineral that helps stimulate enzymes that break down protein and carbs to create energy.
Bananas are excellent for providing a quick dose of energy thanks to their high content of vitamin B6, complex carbs, and potassium. They also make one of the most convenient, grab-and-go snacks that can be packed along on trips, picnics, and commutes.
Made primarily from chickpeas, hummus provides a dense dose of nutrition. With complex carbs, fibre, and healthy fats, hummus is a satisfying, easy way to fuel your body. It is perfect as a dip or spread on a sandwich.
6. Fatty Fish
Fatty fish is a nutritional powerhouse! Fish such as tuna, sardines, and salmon provide protein, B vitamins, and fatty acids that can help fuel the body and promote sustained energy.
7. Sweet Potatoes
The complex carbs in sweet potatoes are digested slowly, making them a delicious option for a sustained energy fix. Sweet potatoes also provide other important nutrients such as:
- Vitamin A
8. Green Tea
Green tea is notorious for its ability to provide a natural boost of energy. Thanks to its L-theanine content, it provides a boost of energy without the jitters that often accompany caffeine consumption. It also boasts a high level of powerful antioxidants that fight inflammation and oxidative stress.
What is the most popular energy booster? It almost certainly has to be coffee. Beloved for its flavour and high caffeine content, coffee is well-known for its ability to provide an instant pick-me-up.
The caffeine in coffee quickly passes from the bloodstream into the brain where it increases the production of epinephrine, a hormone that stimulates the brain and body and helps promote alertness.
It is recommended to stay under 400mg of caffeine a day.
As one of the most popular and widely recognized fruits in the world, apples are beloved for their taste, convenience, and high level of nutrition. Apples provide a good source of fibre, carbs, antioxidants, and natural sugars that can provide a healthy energy boost.
11. Dark Chocolate
What is the most delicious way to boost energy? That honour may just belong to dark chocolate.
The antioxidants in cocoa boast a variety of health benefits, including the ability to naturally boost energy levels.
Dark chocolate also contains caffeine and theobromine, stimulatory compounds which have been shown to enhance mood and mental energy.
With their high content of B vitamins, healthy fats, and fibre, avocados are well-deserving of the title ‘superfood’. The healthy fats in avocado have been shown to enhance nutrient absorption and promote optimal blood fat levels.
Even though it is often considered a grain, quinoa is a seed that is bursting with vitamins and minerals. Despite its high carb content, it has a low glycemic index and provides a sustained energy release.
Quinoa is also a good source of:
Oatmeal contains beta-glucan, a soluble fibre that helps delay the absorption of glucose into the blood, making it a great source of long-lasting energy.
Oats are also rich in a variety of vitamins and minerals that help support energy production in the body such as:
- B vitamins
15. Goji berries
Goji berries are packed with antioxidants, fibre, vitamins, and minerals, making them a convenient, delicious way to fuel your body with nutrients.
Goji berries can be enjoyed raw or easily mixed into baked goods, smoothies, sauces, and yogurt.
Yogurt contains carbs in the form of simple sugars, such as galactose and lactose, that can provide energy when broken down. Yogurt also provides a great source of high-quality protein that can help slow the release of these sugars into the blood. This combination makes yogurt an excellent food to enjoy for a sustained release of energy.
Edamame beans make an easy, satisfying snack that is low in calories but high in carbs, protein, and fibre. Edamame beans also boast a variety of vitamins and minerals such as manganese, molybdenum, and folic acid.
Folic acid works in conjunction with iron to fight fatigue and promote energy while molybdenum works by breaking down protein and carbs to generate energy.
Along with being a fantastic source of plant-based protein, lentils are also rich in fibre and healthy carbs.
Lentils also contain vitamins and minerals that help support energy such as:
Famous for their high vitamin C content, oranges are bursting with antioxidants that help ward off oxidative stress. Research indicates that oxidative stress can lead to feelings of fatigue, making oranges a potential option for staying naturally alert and productive.
Strawberries provide fibre, healthy carbs, and Vitamin C, making them a delicious way to fight off fatigue while fueling your body with antioxidants.
They make a perfect addition to smoothies, salads, or parfaits. They are also delicious eaten plain or drizzled with dark chocolate!
Seeds are generally high in protein, fibre, and healthy fatty acids that can help fuel your body and promote sustained energy levels. Look for seeds such as:
- Pumpkin seeds
- Chia seeds
- Hemp seeds
- Sunflower seeds
- Sesame seeds
Although there are hundreds of types of beans, almost all of them offer similar nutritional profiles. Beans are rich sources of nutrients, fibre, protein, and healthy carbs.
Because beans are digested slowly, they help stabilize blood sugar levels and provide steady energy. Beans also contain antioxidants that can promote energy and defend against inflammation.
Popcorn as an energy booster? Yes! Popcorn contains carbs and fibre and can serve as a delicious, energizing, low-calorie snack when prepared properly.
To make popcorn as healthy as possible, use the air-pop method for cooking and season it naturally with spices and herbs.
24. Leafy Green Vegetables
Leafy green vegetables such as kale or spinach are bursting with nutrients that support healthy energy levels:
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin K
- Folic acid
Leafy greens also contain high levels of iron, a key nutrient for staying energized. When paired with the Vitamin C naturally found in leafy greens, iron’s absorption is enhanced.
Leafy green vegetables may also help promote nitric oxide formation, leading to better blood flow throughout the body.
Beets are gaining popularity as a natural source of energy. Studies indicate that beetroot juice may boost the delivery of oxygen to tissues due to its high antioxidant and nitrate content.
Additionally, beets provide fibre, carbs, and natural sugars for a long-lasting boost of energy.
Additional Tips for Using Food to Naturally Boost Energy Levels
Along with eating nutrient-dense, whole foods, here are some additional tips for naturally boosting energy levels:
- Eat small, frequent meals (try eating a smaller lunch to see if it helps you avoid the afternoon slump)
- Drink water regularly (dehydration can slow bodily functions)
- Avoid crash diets
- Limit alcohol
What Are Your Favorite Energy-Boosting Foods?
A variety of delicious foods can be used to naturally support energy levels. Do you have any favourites from this list? Did we miss any foods that help boost energy? We’d love to hear from you in the comments.