Our lives are increasingly busy, and our to-do-lists seemingly endless. Tending to the constant flow of things that need our attention can leave us feeling stressed and drained, which can seriously affect our productivity.
While reaching for a sugary power drink may be your go-to solution when looking for a quick pick-me-up, there are plenty of healthy foods that give you energy and provide you with an instant power boost. You just need to find the ones that work best for you.
I have prepared a list of 23 energy boosting foods that not only give you a boost of energy quickly but also provide essential nutrients to keep your body healthy and alert all day long.
If you are unsure what your next shopping list should look like, read on to learn about the best energizing foods that help fight exhaustion.
Let’s open this list with the queen of all drinks – water! Next time you feel exhausted and sluggish, treat your body to a tall glass of water!
If your energy levels are still depleting despite your healthy sleeping and eating habits, chances are you haven’t been taking enough water to keep your body running properly.
Unfortunately, dehydration can cause fatigue and headaches, so if you need to shake that tiredness off, increase your daily water intake.
Can you imagine kicking off your day without a cup of your favorite coffee? I bet you can’t!
Coffee can jumpstart your body and give you your energy back in no time. And that’s all thanks to a miracle compound called caffeine.
Caffeine is the most commonly used psychoactive substance in the world. It keeps both the mind and the body awake and sharp.
Coffee is also rich in several important antioxidants, like hydrocinnamic acids and polyphenols, which help the body restore its energy by fighting oxidative stress in the cells.
So, regardless of how you prefer having your ‘magic potion,’ coffee is a lot more than an energy booster — coffee is a ritual.
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3. Peppermint Tea
Surprised to see peppermint tea on this list? Don’t be!
Research shows that natural compounds found in mint tea can energize the body, reduce fatigue, and improve mental focus and sharpness. It’s quite stimulating, even though it doesn’t contain any psychoactive substances like caffeine.
Peppermint tea can be used on its own as a light, refreshing drink, or you can choose to add it to your favorite herbal blend for an extra energy kick.
According to folk medicine, brewing it for 10 to 15 minutes will release components that will relax your body and make you sleepy, but a short brew of 5 minutes will keep you alert and focused when you need it most.
4. Natural Energy Drinks
If you are not much of a coffee drinker but still need your daily caffeine shot, natural energy drinks are the perfect solution for your worn-out energy levels.
Packed with plant-sourced caffeine and usually low on added sugars and calories, these brainpower jack-ups will sharpen your focus and improve concentration.
Some of the most popular natural energy drinks are Matcha green tea and Yerba Mate. Besides the pretty high levels of caffeine, these drinks also contain powerful antioxidants like flavonoids and phenolic acids, which help fight free radicals, inflammation, and cellular damage.
5. Peanut Butter
A spoonful of this calorie-dense nutty spread goes a long way in providing delicious power jolts. Peanut butter is a superfood because it’s loaded with healthy fats, protein, and fiber that keep hunger at bay and maintain stable blood sugar levels.
Still not convinced? We’ve got more:
Peanut butter is also a carbohydrate, and, as we all know, carbs are easily converted into quick energy!
So next time you are about to hit the gym, allow yourself a spoon of this nutty treat and see the difference in performance.
6. Fatty Fish
Salmon, tuna, and sardines (a.k.a “brain food”) are great energizing lunch or dinner options. They are a healthy source of protein and vitamin B, which plays a crucial part in converting food into energy.
You will also find these types of fish high in omega-3 fatty acids. Studies show that omega-3s help reduce inflammation – a major culprit behind burnout and fatigue.
7. Greek Yogurt
Greek yogurt is your creamy, substantial energy solution!
It consists of simple carbohydrates like lactose and galactose that provide quick energy when broken down. It also stores an impressive amount of healthy proteins that promote your metabolism.
Greek yogurt is a great source of calcium which is crucial for bone health. It’s also rich in vitamins B6 and B12 that play an important role in turning food into fuel for our cells.
Packing a whopping 27 grams per cup, edamame is currently one of the most popular protein/energy sources, especially among vegans.
This healthy pick-me-up snack is low in calories but high in carbohydrates, fiber, folic acid, manganese, vitamins, and minerals.
In combination with iron, folic acid promotes energy and fights fatigue. Manganese, on the other hand, contributes to better energy absorption by helping the body break down carbs and fats.
This power-combo will regulate your blood sugar levels and help you stay high-energy for a lot longer.
9. Whole Grain Bread
A slice of whole-grain bread provides you with around 70 calories, mostly in the form of carbohydrates. The body starts breaking down carbs fast, which gives you an instant boost.
But there’s a bonus:
Whole grain bread is a complex carbohydrate that allows energy to be released slowly and steadily, keeping you up and running for longer throughout the day.
Avocados are literally nature’s super achievers. They are a high-fat food packed with healthy fiber, powerful antioxidants, and B vitamins.
The high levels of fatty acids found in avocados help in nutrient absorption and sustain your energy levels throughout the day.
They are heart-healthy, weight-loss-friendly, and mix well with other ingredients for a tasty meal.
One apple a day keeps the hunger at bay!
Apples are all-around champions. They are rich in vitamins, fiber, and carbohydrates which are the main sources of fuel for the body and the brain.
However, apples are also low on the glycemic index scale, so they won’t cause a sugar rush and leave you tired and hungry in no time.
Moreover, they are also full of antioxidants that, according to several studies, can slow down the process of carb digestion, which prolongs the effect of long-lasting energy.
And if that wasn’t enough, they are cheap and easily available!
According to research, nutrient-dense leafy green veggies like spinach and kale contain tons of vitamin K (excellent for your bones), lutein (promotes eyesight), and of course, iron.
With iron deficiency being one of the main culprits behind chronic fatigue, leafy greens can replenish your body’s iron reserves and add some vitamin C for better iron absorption.
Amazing right? It looks like spinach can perk you up when you are feeling tired and drained of all energy.
13. Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate may not be the healthiest food on this list, but it sure is the tastiest, right?
Whether it makes your favorite snack or you try to steer clear of it, dark chocolate is an excellent power booster. However, it’s lower on sugar, so it will provide you with long-lasting energy and not just a sugar rush.
When shopping the shelves for dark chocolate, aim for bars with more than 75% cocoa. That way, you will benefit from cocoa’s antioxidants such as flavonoids that increase energy sustainability.
Oats are a favorite go-to meal for many gym-goers. The power of oatmeal lies in its high fiber and protein contents that will keep your hunger at bay and your energy levels up during the day.
Oatmeal also packs a decent amount of B vitamins, iron, and manganese that help your body’s energy production processes. Just have in mind to avoid instant oatmeal packets that are loaded with added sugars and salt.
15. Dried Fruit
You got it right – oatmeal is your blank canvas for a healthier, more delicious meal, and dried fruit is the perfect match for the job.
Dried cranberries, cherries, goji berries, and many other fruits are an immediate source of energy. They are loaded with micronutrients, fiber and antioxidants and are also high in vitamin D that helps energy find its way to the muscles.
Almonds, walnuts, Brazil nuts, pistachios – you name it!
They are famous for their high-calorie density that gives you a much-needed energy boost. They are also full of calcium, magnesium, iron, healthy fatty acids, and antioxidants that help with inflammation and overall cellular health.
This powerful combination of nutrients promotes a lasting and effective use of energy.
Together with dried fruits and seeds, nuts make a great addition to your trail mix to help you power through your day!
Eggs are one of the best foods that give you energy, and no superfood list would ever be complete without them.
Eggs contain key nutrients like folate, thiamine, and B vitamins—essential elements for converting food into sustained energy. There’s also the leucine that stimulates the production of energy in the cells.
And if that wasn’t enough, eggs pack around 6g of complete protein that helps maintain muscle mass.
Simply put, that omelet you had will help you get through a lot more than your morning zoom call.
Ever wondered why athletes love bananas so much? Yes, they are sweet and tasty, but they are also the superfruit you need to jolt your energy!
Bananas pack high quantities of potassium, fiber, and vitamin B6 that promote proper muscle function. They are also an excellent source of complex carbs that digest more slowly, resulting in sustained energy.
19. Sweet Potatoes
If you are looking for a healthy yet filling source of fiber and carbs, sweet potatoes are the real deal.
The high amount of complex carbohydrates found in sweet potatoes will provide long-term energy and control your hunger.
In addition, this super delicious root contains high quantities of manganese (breaks down nutrients for faster energy production) and copious amounts of vitamin A.
20. Brown Rice
Brown rice is whole grain rice, meaning less processed and energy-boosting! It’s high in vitamins, minerals, and fiber, and that’s exactly why it ranks higher on the scale of nutritional value.
The absence of husk in white rice allows for faster digestion, leading to a spike in sugar and energy levels and then the inevitable crash, which won’t be the case with brown rice.
Also, similar to sweet potatoes and oats, brown rice is rich in manganese, allowing for a faster and more efficient transformation of the food into energy.
These citrusy goodies are loaded with vitamin C – a powerful antioxidant that decreases oxidative stress in the body and prevents fatigue.
Studies also suggest that higher levels of vitamin C in the body improve the mood and lower the chances of developing anger, depression, and confusion.
22. Green Tea
You thought coffee and energy drinks are the only caffeine-infused drinks, right? Wrong!
Green tea is an excellent source of caffeine, and as a psychoactive compound, it can boost your energy and make you more alert and focused. But it can also give you the jitters and tighten anxiety.
That’s where L-theanine comes in: it counteracts the negative caffeine effects and provides a smoother energy boost.
Honey is the quick-fix you’ve been looking for, and it’s tasty!
We have all heard about the health benefits of bee nectar, but realistically speaking, honey won’t help much when it comes to sustained energy.
However, it has the power to drag you out of your 3. p.m. slump in a split second. To prolong its effects, add a spoonful to Greek yogurt, toss in some nuts and seeds, and you’re set.
When life gets busy and you need a quick pick-me-up to power through your days, remember that there are a ton of healthy foods that can give you energy fast.
Whether you are looking for carb-rich foods for an instant energy boost, or something packed with protein and healthy fats that will sustain your energy levels all day long, the options are almost endless.
But don’t forget that there are also plenty of things you can do to keep your energy levels up all year round!
Featured photo credit: Hermes Rivera via unsplash.com