Need an energy boost? Whether you’re feeling sleepy after you wake up or are hit with a wave of lethargy in the afternoon, eating the right foods can give you a natural burst of energy which is far more effective than a cup of caffeine.
It goes without saying that all food provides the body with energy, but some foods are better than others when it comes to prolonging it throughout the day. For example, there are foods that are best consumed in the evening as they help you sleep better (see 8 foods for a good night’s sleep for more), so you’re unlikely to want to eat those if you’re feeling tired and need to stay alert. There are also foods that will provide you with a quick boost of energy but you may feel yourself flagging after an hour or two, so these aren’t the most effective either.
If you’re struggling through a busy week or you need an energy boost to power your day, add these 9 foods into your diet.
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Oatmeal is the start to many people’s days and there’s a good reason for that, because it’s a brilliant source of energy. Oatmeal is made up of whole grains and complex carbohydrates which are absorbed slower by the body so you get a longer boost of energy. Oats also help with your production of serotonin, a chemical that regulates your sleep, mood, stress and memory so oats are a great food to help with your body functioning.
Bananas are one of the best foods for energy and can be easily added into your day, either as a topping for your oatmeal or as a quick snack. Bananas are rich in potassium which produces energy, helps with muscle and bone growth, fluid regulation and other important functions. They’re also a natural source of sugar and replenish your electrolytes so they’re handy if you need extra energy or if you’re about to workout.
Yoghurt, specifically Greek yoghurt, is packed full of protein, fats and simple carbohydrates which give your body energy. Choosing natural yoghurt is your best option as it’s thicker and has less sugar and more carbs in it, which makes it easier for your body to absorb all its nutrients and produce more energy.
Another protein packed food, eggs provide your body with steady energy throughout the day. Eggs are rich in different vitamins, including B vitamins and leucine, an amino acid which stimulates energy production and a healthy metabolism. Not only that, but eggs help you feel fuller for longer and are easy to add into a meal or eat as a quick snack – we’d recommend a hard boiled egg here so you don’t make a runny yolky mess while you’re on the go but each to their own!
5. Sweet potatoes
Sweet potatoes and yams are complex carbohydrates that are high in fibre, iron, magnesium, potassium and vitamin C – all the nutrients you need to provide you with energy. As sweet potatoes are complex carbs, energy will be released into your body slowly over time (just like oatmeal) so you feel fuller, energetic and focused throughout the day.
Dates have many health benefits as they contain antioxidants, fibre, vitamins and minerals, and are proven to help your digestion, support your nervous system and improve your metabolism. Dates are also high in natural sugar so they’re great for providing you with quick energy throughout the day.
Whether you hide your spinach in a smoothie, cook it into your meals or even eat it raw, spinach helps keep your energy levels high. Spinach is nutrient dense, full of fibre and antioxidants, and is a great option if you’re looking to get more greens into your diet. There’s a reason Popeye loves spinach so much!
Oranges are a source of vitamin C which is great for growth, collagen production and tissue repair, so it’s a top food to eat if you exercise a lot. Like bananas, oranges also contain potassium and are said to prevent fatigue, so eating one or drinking a glass of OJ replenishes your energy and electrolyte levels, and helps you feel more alert and focused.
Grains like quinoa, whole grains, brown rice and lentils are the best thing to eat if you need energy. As we’ve discussed with oatmeal and sweet potatoes, complex carbohydrates (which grains are full of) make you feel full and break down slowly so you sustain your energy levels for longer. Grains are also nutritious, healthy and good for the body, so try adding them into your lunch to avoid an afternoon energy slump.
Want more food tips? Try these 5 nutritionist-approved foods that reduce stress & improve sleep.