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Best Foods for an Energy Boost

Updated on 24. Aug. 2020

Want more energy now? It is a simple question with a rather obvious answer because of course, we all want to feel more energized! That just leaves us to wonder how to make more energy now a possibility.

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There are many products that make this promise, with most of them containing high levels of caffeine or sugar that will lead to an instantaneous spike in energy; however, what the label or advertisement will not tell you is that these spikes in energy are invariably followed by a crash. You may have an energy boost, but it will only be a momentary one.

Currently, there is limited scientific research on the effects of specific foods on energy levels. However, most studies agree that a well-balanced diet is a key to avoiding fatigue or an afternoon slump. Try to incorporate a variety of unrefined carbohydrates, proteins, and fats into your daily diet. Your muscles burn carbohydrates first, so it is important, especially before working out, to provide your body with complex carbohydrates. Whole grains and healthy unsaturated fats provide your body with energy reserves that will last longer than the momentary spikes of energy provided by foods full of refined sugars or white starches. Complex carbohydrates include foods such as brown rice, whole grain pasta or bread, and vegetables.1

If you find yourself battling the afternoon slump on a regular basis, try keeping a bag of nuts or a piece of fruit at hand. Small, healthy snacks between mealtimes can give you the boost of energy you need without the hard crash you would get from something like a candy bar. But what about that energy bar you saw at your local grocery store? A study by Ohio State University found that there was no significant advantage of energy bars over candy bars in providing sustained energy.2

Look for snacks and meal items high in protein, fiber, and complex carbohydrates. Almonds and pistachios are great to have on hand for munching. Craving some salt? Pop your own popcorn at home on the stove or in an air popper. Just make sure not to compromise your newfound healthy snack by adding loads of butter. Start your day off with greek yogurt or oatmeal with a banana. Breakfasts full of complex carbohydrates will not only leave you feeling fuller longer, but will also provide you with sustained energy for the day. Hummus is a great addition to your sandwich or some fresh veggies in because it is high in both protein and fiber. Try adding some salmon to your salad or grill it up for dinner. Full of healthy fats and omega-3s, salmon is rich with nutrients for your body.3

If you find you cannot part from your daily cup of joe, that is okay! However, it is important not to abuse caffeine. Drinking too much caffeine, especially later in the day, can lead to trouble sleeping. Instead of reaching for another cup of coffee, pour yourself a tall glass of water. Staying hydrated is important to the processes that produce energy in your body.4

You may want to consider taking a daily multivitamin, especially as you age, to make sure that your body is getting all of the necessary minerals and vitamins. However, before adding any new vitamin to your daily regimen, consult with your doctor to find what will work best to meet your body’s needs. It could be that your mineral and vitamin needs are met in your daily diet.

One particular vitamin to be mindful of is B12. Vitamin B12 is an important part of your body’s process of turning food into fuel. In other words, the process that creates energy! If this process is interrupted, you may find yourself feeling lethargic. B Vitamins are water soluble, meaning that your body does not store them, and thus are added to your body through what you eat. B12, in particular, is only found naturally in animal products like dairy, meat, eggs, and fish. If you are a vegetarian or vegan, you should look for soy or other alternative items fortified with B12 or consider taking a daily supplement.6

While there is no magic food that is going to give you the instantaneous boost of energy and sustain that energy throughout the day, a well-balanced diet will have you feeling better and more energized long term.

Check out some of our favorite energy boosting recipes: 

  1. Steamed Salmon Fillet
  2. Popcorn Granola with Raisins 
  3. Date Almond Cookies 
  4. Shrimp Fried Rice



1. "Are There Energy-boosting Foods," Harvard Health. Harvard Health Publications, 2013, Web, 08 Oct. 2016.; "Eating to Boost Energy," Harvard Health, Harvard Health Publications, 2011, Web, 08 Oct. 2016.

2. "Eating to Boost Energy."

3. Karen Appold, "10 Healthy Foods That Boost Energy," EverydayHealth, Everyday Health Media, LLC, 22 July 2015, Web, 08 Oct. 2016.

4. "Eating to Boost Energy."

5. Steven D. Ehrlich, "Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin)," University of Maryland Medical Center, N.p., 19 Oct. 2015, Web, 08 Oct. 2016.;  "Food Sources of Vitamin B12." Dietitians of Canada. N.p., 6 May 2014. Web. 08 Oct. 2016.


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