What foods give energy? How can I increase energy? What foods fight fatigue? We’ve heard these questions a million times, and we have some solid answers.
The problem with high fructose corn syrup is it absorbs quickly but can’t be used as is. It travels to the liver to be converted to glucose. If too much travels at once, it floods the liver, and gets converted into lipids (fats) instead, raising cholesterol and encouraging fat storage and weight gains. This is a big problem with sodas and juices. Whole fruits also contain a good amount of fructose, but this is offset by glucose, fiber, and natural phytonutrients that slow absorption, letting the liver keep up. You get a boost without the crash.
Berries – One of natures more perfect foods, berries pack in a ton of antioxidants with fiber, water, and some vitamins. Go for goji, blueberry, strawberry, raspberry, and blackberry. They have less sugar than you think, taste amazing, and lift your energy levels fast.
Banana – Bananas contain complex carbohydrates and fiber for long-term energy release. They also play so well with berries in oatmeal or smoothies.
Avocado – Everyone knows by now that avocados are full of good fats. These fats provide solid energy over a long time and aid the body in absorbing certain key, fat soluble vitamins.
Oranges – Oranges are tangy, sweet, light, and delicious. There’s a reason you find them during almost any break at kids sporting events. Quick energy from sugars, fiber to slow these down enough, and vitamin C as a major antioxidant boost to combat fatigue, stress, and flagging moods.
- Apples – Crisp, refreshing, with a happy crunch, apples also provide a good mix of simple sugars, complex carbohydrates, fiber, and antioxidants.
Fruits take center stage for energy due to their sugar content, but vegetables can supply plenty of boosting power too. Many are packed with slower burning carbohydrates, protein, fiber, and potent antioxidants.
Sweet Potato – Need a meal that picks you up longer? Yams and sweet potatoes are a good option with plenty of beta carotene, fiber, and complex carbs that will last all day.
Leafy Greens – That salad you’re avoiding may actually be exactly what you need to feel better, shake off that fatigue, and get moving. Leafy greens, especially the dark ones like spinach, kale, turnip greens, and collard greens leave you feeling satisfied due to their fiber, but they also pack in a ton of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and even protein.
Beets – Rich in complex carbs, simple sugars, and fiber, beets act much like a banana, provided a mix of quick and long-term energy. They also work well in salads.
- Lentils – These legumes are packed with carbohydrates, protein, and fiber, but cook faster than beans. This makes them a great addition to soups, salads, tacos, and more.
Grains and grain-like seeds are deep reservoirs of complex carbohydrates and fiber, but they should be consumed as close to their original form as possible. The more processed a grain is, the less fiber, vitamins, and minerals it contains, making it just sugars and carbs.
Oatmeal – Oats prove all day energy, making them a great morning meal. A mix of soluble and insoluble fiber makes them filling while slowing down the absorption of carbs and energy boosting B vitamins. Try to use minimally processed oats and add your own minimal sweeteners. Berries work well.
Popcorn – Popcorn is actually a grain, rich in complex carbohydrates and fiber. Don’t reach for a microwave bag just yet though. Your best bet is air popped with a light seasoning with a drizzle of coconut oil to make it stick.
- Brown Rice – White rice strips away fiber and nutrients. Stick to brown rice, which is a whole food with plenty of complex carbohydrates and protein to keep you satisfied plus the fiber to slow down digestion to keep energy up all day.
Water – Water doesn’t provide much in the way of nutrients, but it is essential to every part of the body. If you aren’t getting enough, you may be feeling things falter or grind to a halt. Make sure you drink when you feel thirsty and keep all your systems running at their best.
Green Tea – Green tea, especially matcha, contains natural caffeine that doesn’t leave you jittery or anxious thanks to the L-Theanine. L-Theanine adds a bonus by upping focus and concentration. It is packed with antioxidants too to combat oxidative stress and fatigue too.
Coffee – Coffee can leave you jittery, but in small amounts it can be beneficial. Pair it with oat milk and go easy on the sugar to get the most out of it.
- Yerba Maté – Yerba mate contains natural caffeine and antioxidants in a similar fashion to coffee, but with some of the qualities of green tea. It doesn’t tend to make you jittery.
Nuts and Seeds
Similar to grains in many ways, but their own unique foods usually with more protein, nuts and seeds can provide energy throughout the day. They make great snacks too.
Quinoa – This isn’t a grain, but it acts like one. These seeds are packed with good fibers, protein, and long-term carbohydrates. It has beneficial minerals too.
Walnuts – Walnuts are especially rich in good fats, protein, and complex carbs. They contain omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids along with antioxidants too to boost brain function.
Chia – Packed with beneficial fiber, these tiny seeds pack a punch when it comes to hydration and all-day energy.
- Pumpkin – Pumpkin seeds are a great snack. They have omega-3s, fiber, protein, and some good, slow absorbing carbohydrates.
Meat and Dairy
Yogurt – Yogurt contain probiotics, beneficial bacteria that restore our gut health. Pair this with protein, carbohydrates, and some prebiotic fiber, and you have a snack that can bolster energy levels. Try not to get the sugary ones.
Fatty Fish – Tuna and salmon are two fish that provide omega-3 fatty acids, protein, vitamin B12, and many other nutrients.
Eggs – Eggs got a bad reputation for years, but they are far healthier than you know. Protein, B vitamins, and some healthy fats come together. You don’t absorb much cholesterol from foods, so stop worrying about eggs and worry more about sugary foods.
There is one special treat that can boost energy without derailing your life, but you have to use it wisely.
- Dark Chocolate – Chocolate gets its own category because it is the seed of a fruit that is processed into something unique. Dark chocolate is full of healthy fats, some fiber, and a ton of antioxidants. It boosts mood, raises energy levels, increases blood flow, and tastes amazing. That doesn’t mean you can eat all you want. Stick to one square a day.