Yawn… stretch… yawn. It’s 3:00 in the afternoon—or worse, 10:00 in the morning—and you’ve been rushing from one project, email, phone call, etc., etc. to the next. You look up from your work, and all you see is… so much more to do. Yet, you feel EXHAUSTED. All you want to do is get in your comfy clothes and rest your brain and body for at least a few minutes—if not a full siesta. But who’s got time for that? What you need is a quick pick-me-up! Before you reach for another cup of coffee, stimulant-laced energy drink, or sugar-loaded, belly-fat-increasing “treat” (I’m looking at you, donut), here are five foods for energy that nourish your body and brain with the nutrients they are really craving. These are foods that give you a sustained pep in your step—without the dreaded energy crash from sugars and stimulants.
Top 5 Foods For Energy
1) Fresh Fruits: Easily portable for an on-the-go snack or as part of a nutritious breakfast or lunch, fresh fruits are perfect foods for energy because they’re loaded with vitamins, minerals, fiber, and revitalizing phytonutrients. Yet they also provide healthy amounts of natural, ready-to-use carbs for energy. What’s more, they’re easily digested, so you get that energy fast (within 30 minutes). Unlike most sugary snacks, because fresh fruits contain a healthy dose of fiber, they help keep your blood sugar levels nice and steady, which means you won’t find yourself crashing 30 minutes later, wondering how you could feel even more tired.
Top options include oranges, strawberries, blueberries, apples, watermelon, pineapple, and bananas. But really, just go with a variety of your favorite fruits (in season, whenever possible) and keep them on hand for those seemingly never-ending afternoons or anytime you need a natural perk up.
2) Nuts & Seeds: Other super-portable foods for energy include nuts and seeds of all types. They’re high in various vitamins and minerals including magnesium, which plays a pivotal role in helping the body produce energy. They’re also high in protein and fiber, helping keep your blood sugar levels on an even keel, which is key to steady, sustained energy levels. And finally, nuts supply good fats, which are important for brain power.
Try a small handful of raw almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, Brazil nuts, cashews, macadamia nuts, pecans, pistachios, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, or others. Or, add a sprinkle of chia seeds or sesame seeds to your smoothie or on top of a salad, and enjoy a nice surge of energy to get you through a busy day or low-energy afternoon.
3) Eggs: Whether you decide to start out your day with an omelet, add a hard-boiled egg to a chopped salad for lunch, or scramble an egg for a quick afternoon snack, the one thing your body will appreciate is how truly energizing this food is. Packed with protein for steady energy, eggs also help support healthy carbohydrate metabolism and glycemic control. In addition, they’re loaded with several B vitamins, including thiamin, riboflavin, folate, B6, and B12, which the body needs to produce energy. And packed with healthy fats, choline, and lutein, there may not be a better brain power-boosting food than eggs.
4) Avocado: There’s a good reason avocado toast has become a thing, especially for breakfast. The magnificent avocado not only provides a delicious, creamy flavor, but this food for energy supplies B vitamins as well as energy-sustaining fiber and monounsaturated fats, which also combine to keep you feeling fuller, longer. And you don’t need the toast to enjoy these benefits. Avocado is also great on top of eggs or a salad, added to a fruit salad, or even by itself.
5) Leafy Greens: Speaking of salad, from arugula to spinach to kale and so many more, you can’t go wrong with the dark green leafy veggies if foods for energy are what you’re looking for. Well known to be bursting with nutrients, leafy greens provide calcium, magnesium, zinc, potassium, iron, vitamins A, C, E, and K, folic acid, and more. Plus, they’re great sources of fiber.
Not in the mood for a salad? No problem. Leafy greens like spinach, kale, and Swiss chard can also be added to omelets, smoothies, soups, and much more for sustained energy throughout even the busiest days.
While you can’t eat your way to energy if you don’t get enough quality sleep (at least much of the time), exercise regularly, and support your circadian clock, these foods for energy can give you that afternoon (or morning) boost when you find your energy dipping. And unlike sugary snacks, they provide sustained energy, so you can keep on keeping on.