Do you find you need a “pick-me-up” in the middle of the day? Or maybe your energy wanes just before it’s time to leave work? In these instances, energy foods can be a great solution.
Many of us feel fatigued at a certain point during the day – maybe you didn’t go to bed early enough, or maybe you’re a new parent and just not getting enough sleep through the night. You could be having trouble sleeping and possibly need to look at your sleeping habits.
What if there were some foods that could help increase your energy and are actually healthy for you?
Before we get into the actual energy-boosting foods that can help, let’s talk briefly about how to eat for optimal energy. People that stay energetic throughout the day do a few key things:
- To maintain blood sugar levels and energy evenly throughout the day, it’s best to snack every 2-3 hours
- Having a balanced mix of the macro-nutrients—protein, fats, and carbohydrates—helps to ensure a slow, steady release of energy throughout the day
- Including a wide variety of fruits and vegetables helps to ensure we get required vitamins and nutrients
In addition to eating healthy, balanced meals and snacks spaced throughout the day, there are many foods that can help give a more immediate boost. Although we often crave junk foods when we’re tired, these will do a much better job of boosting stamina without the terrible sugar crash soon after. Let’s take a look at the best energy foods:
Coffee (and some teas) not only promotes central nervous system stimulation and boosts brain function, but it is also a great source of antioxidants and may possibly promote a decreased risk of type 2 diabetes and liver disease.
Caffeine is said to affect some neurotransmitters that could improve mood, reaction time, learning and vigilance, making it a great energy-boosting food for our list.
2. Mint Leaves
The Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition says peppermint is thought to increase ventilation and brain oxygen concentration, which can lead to an increase in energy. That makes this an excellent energy food. Add some mint leaves to hot water for a drink that will get you through the afternoon.
Ginger is said to reduce fatigue by improving blood circulation and blood sugar levels. This deliciously fragrant food may also offer help to migraine sufferers – comparable even to the drug sumatriptan and with less side effects.
Discovered by the Incas and thought to increase the stamina of their warriors, this grain has been touted as the super grain of the future, and one of the best energy-boosting foods for long-term health.
Quinoa is the most protein-rich grain available, as well as a complete protein containing all 9 essential amino acids needed by the body. Quinoa contains iron, among other things that can help boost brain function as the brain takes in about 20% of our blood oxygen. It also contains Riboflavin (Vitamin b2) which improves energy metabolism within the brain, helping create proper energy production in cells.
5. Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate contains caffeine and theobromine, which both help to boost energy levels – the darker the chocolate, the less sugar and more energy boosting potential it has. The next time you’re feeling a little lethargic, take a little chocolate break with this energy food.
Yogurt has a high amount of protein, which can help you feel full for longer, so hunger will not distract you from your daily tasks. The fat content in Greek yogurt also tends to be more satisfying. Add in some fresh fruit for an antioxidant boost as well!
Berries are full of antioxidants and vitamins. Specifically, Goji berries are known to have high concentrations of melatonin, which can improve sleep and give you more energy during the day.
Berries are also said to stave off cardiovascular disease and some cancers. The healthy natural sugar in these sweet treats help offer a quick boost in your day, making them some of the best energy-boosting foods.
Lentils are excellent at stabilizing blood sugar and, therefore, offer you a slow burning source of energy to keep you feeling full throughout the day. They also help increase your iron stores, which can help boost energy.
These nuts contain healthy fats, fiber, and protein, which prevents energy crashes and keeps your energy more level throughout the day. A handful of walnuts as a mid-day snack is a great idea if you’re looking to add energy foods to your routine.
Cherries are also good sources of melatonin, which can help you to get a better night’s sleep to keep you fresh through the day. They have also been shown to reduce inflammation, which can cause fatigue in the long-term.
11. Dried Fruits
Dried fruits are an excellent source of quick, usable energy that provide many essential nutrients, including Vitamin A, B-6, C, and D. If you’re looking for energy-boosting foods, a small bag of dried fruit can give you the push you need to finish all of your projects.
Salmon contains Omega-3 fatty acids, which are said to improve brain function and reduce fatigue while also providing vitamin B and protein, which can help sustain energy throughout the day. Omega-3’s are also great at reducing inflammation in the body, which helps reduce sleepiness.
13. Green Tea
This type of tea contains some caffeine, which we know boosts energy. This warm gem has also been associated with a reduction in breast cancer risk.
Learn more about the benefits of green tea here.
The Bottom Line
So many of the foods we eat can help boost our energy. Whether they include complex carbohydrates for readily available energy, or packed with fiber and protein for a slower energy release, they can help increase power and stamina.
As a bonus, a lot of these foods also contain significant amounts of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, which have been shown to play a role in the production of energy within your cells.
Incorporating these energy-boosting foods into a varied diet will definitely help increase energy levels throughout the day and help to stave off that mid-to-late-day slump.
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