Next time you’re feeling that afternoon slump, don’t reach for an energy drink or candy bar. Refined sugar may give you a short energy spike, but the crash that follows will leave you even more tired than before.
There is an abundant variety of healthy foods that give you real energy. Whether they are packed with protein and fiber for a slow release of energy, or complex carbs for an instant, but sustained energy boost. Natural energy boosting foods are those that are rich in protein, fiber, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates.
The energy from this kind of food is like a time-released capsule, that’s slowly being released into your bloodstream and keep you energized for hours to come. Next time you’re dragging, put down the energy drink and pick up these 100 healthy foods that give you natural, long-lasting energy.
Bananas are composed mostly of glucose, which provides you instant energy. They are also an excellent source of potassium and vitamin B6, which can help boost energy levels. It’s not surprising that the world’s leading athletes go bananas over banana.
2. Brown Rice
Go with whole grains to get the most out of your meals. Brown rice is less processed than its white version and retains more nutritional value in form of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. It is low on the glycemic index, which makes it useful in regulating blood sugar levels and helps you maintain steady energy levels throughout your day.
3. Matcha Green Tea
A two-gram serving of matcha contains as much caffeine as an espresso, but the way it makes you feel is very different from that of espresso. The caffeine releases more slowly throughout the day, preventing the afternoon crash we experience from coffee. It also makes you feel more relaxed than a shot of espresso, because matcha contains L-theanine, an amino acid that improves our mood, lowers stress and provide what’s described as a calm, creative and happy energy.
4. Sweet Potatoes
Fight fatigue with sweet potatoes, which are high in complex carbs, fiber, Vitamin C, and beta-carotene. Your body digests them at a slow pace, which provides you with a steady supply of energy.
Coffee is probably the first food you’d think about when you’re looking for an energy boost. Caffeine can give us a temporary energy boost and can help us get moving in the morning. But be moderate, too much caffeine can backfire on you by feeling foggy and negatively affect your performance.
6. Coconut Oil
Coconut oil consists primarily of a unique form of saturated fats known as medium chain triglycerides (MCT). MCTs are very easy for our body to break down and give you a quick energy boost.
Eggs have a bad reputation as an unhealthy food because of their high cholesterol content, but this study found it is completely undeserved. Eggs are low carb, high in B-vitamins and packed with high-quality protein, this combination does not cause spikes in blood sugar and give you a steady source of energy.
Always feel tired? Studies found that hydration is the key to staying energized. Even mild dehydration can slow down body functions and hurt your mood and concentration. To overcome dehydration problems there are many water drinking remainder apps that will remind you to drink water at regular intervals and stay hydrated throughout your day.
9. Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate energizes your body by providing an excellent source of magnesium and iron. The antioxidants in cocoa also have shown to increase blood flow throughout the body, which can improve mood and cognitive performance. Just make sure that it’s 80% or higher in order to truly utilize the energy-boosting benefits.
10. Yerba Maté
Yerba maté is consumed by millions of South Americans as a healthful alternative to coffee. This stimulating all-natural herbal beverage has the ability to wake up the mind without nervousness and jitters. It contains caffeine and two related compounds, theophylline and theobromine. The immediate benefits of yerba maté are enhanced mental clarity, memory, focus, mood, and concentration. Unlike other stimulants, yerba maté does not seem to affect heart rate or blood pressure.
11. Goji Berries
Goji berries have been used in Chinese medicine for centuries, it was initially recorded for medicinal purpose in The Book of Songs 3000 years ago. They are a complete source of protein, and rich in vitamin B1, B2, B6, E and C. A study found that volunteers who drank goji berry juice daily for two weeks improved athletic performance, and reported increased energy levels.
Almonds are a fantastic source of protein, healthy fats, potassium, vitamin B6, and magnesium. If you feel tired all day long, you might have a magnesium deficiency. Getting enough magnesium ensures you have more than enough energy to get through your busy days.
You don’t like brown rice? Give quinoa a try. It’s packed with protein and has a low glycemic index. It’s also high in magnesium, manganese, and folate, making it a nutrient-rich source of carbohydrates for long-lasting energy levels.
Of all the nuts, walnuts have the highest concentration of omega-3. Higher dietary intake of omega-3 has shown reduced inflammation, which could potentially reduce fatigue. Though walnuts are high in calories, studies show that people who eat them don’t easily gain weight, as healthy fats satisfy hunger.
The cozy breakfast food is high in fiber and protein and has a low glycemic index, this combination makes oatmeal a perfect food for sustained energy release. Try to steer clear of instant oatmeal packets, which can be loaded with sugar.
Spirulina is a blue-green freshwater algae, the health benefits are as numerous as the nutrients it provides. It contains 65% protein, high levels of iron, antioxidants, B vitamins, beta-carotene, vitamin C, D, E, potassium, calcium, magnesium, zinc… I could go on forever. It is probably the most nutrient-dense food on the planet. One of the most common ways to take spirulina is in capsules and tablets. You can also purchase spirulina in a loose powder form and try my spirulina smoothie.
Chlorella is a blue-green algae, just like spirulina. Both chlorella and spirulina have an abundance of nutrients shown to help cleanse your body. Chlorella’s combination of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients go one step beyond spirulina. When used in tandem, their powers intensify.
Sauerkraut isn’t just a good match for bratwurst, it also helps you increase your energy levels. Fermented foods such as sauerkraut are high in probiotics, which makes your gut digest food more efficiently. Your body has to work less to digest, and you’re left with an abundance of energy.
19. Greek Yogurt
Greek Yogurt is an amazing option for those struggling with energy, as it contains significantly more protein than traditional yogurt. This helps slow down the digestion of carbs, thereby preventing blood sugar spikes. Make sure to choose plain greek yogurt with no added sugar. You can add your favorite fruits or berries to sweeten it up.
Spinach is packed with iron, which is responsible for supplying oxygen to the brain. It’s also a good source of tyrosine, a compound that has been known to improve focus and motivation. Not a fan of spinach? Simply toss it in your smoothies, you won’t taste it.
21. Lean Red Meat
Any lean protein is going to give you long-lasting energy. Despite red meat being a great source of protein, it’s also loaded with vitamin B12 and iron for that extra boost you need.
Moringa isn’t a stimulant, but it can be beneficial for those looking for a more subtle boost without making you jittery or unable to sleep. Its vitamin B content helps the body turn food nutrients into easy-to-use energy. It’s also great for supporting brain function, memory and mood, due to its high level of iron, zinc and vitamin C, E.
Acerola is a fruit native to Central and South America. It is widely known for its high level of vitamin C. Just 200 ml of acerola juice contains as much as vitamin C present in 15 liters of orange juice. It also contains many B vitamins, which are essential for the conversion of food energy into ATP, which is the form of energy your cells use.
Apples are one of the most popular fruits in the world and are a great food to have in your daily diet, as they provide a wide range of vitamins and minerals. Due to their rich content of fiber, apples provide a sustained energy release.
Hummus is made from chickpeas, sesame seed paste, olive oil and lemon juice. Chickpeas are a good source of complex carbs and fiber, offering you a steady and long-lasting input of energy. It’s also a great source of protein and healthy fats. Dip veggies in it and you’ll have energy for hours.
Edamame, or immature soybeans, is a very popular ingredient in Japanese cuisine. It’s relatively low in calories but offers significant amounts of protein, complex carbs, and fiber. It’s also high in B vitamins and magnesium, all of which can help boost energy levels in your body.
Lentils are another food that is digested slowly by the body, you will not only feel full for longer after you eat them, but you can also expect steady energy levels. They can also increase your energy levels by replenishing your stores of B vitamins, zinc and iron.
Strawberries provide you with natural sugar and fiber that enhance energy levels. Not only are the natural sugars from this fruit far superior to refined sugars, but the fiber helps your body absorb the sugar more slowly and sustains your energy levels.
Carrots are high in fiber, so they are a great way to take the edge off hunger and keep you energized. They also contain high levels of beta-carotene -- an antioxidant that may help oxygenate your blood, body tissues and brain.
Blueberries are not only delicious and low in sugar, but also full of fiber, which keeps you full longer and your blood sugar level stable. Learn more about Blueberries: 5 Reasons Why Blueberries Are so Healthy
31. Chia Seeds
Chia seeds might be tiny, but they pack a massive punch and are at the top of the list of foods that give you energy. They are a complete protein, contain a good amount of fiber and healthy omega-3. Their natural B vitamin content makes them an easy answer to your afternoon slump. These healthy seeds will not spike your blood sugar levels and produce the top-notch energy you need to fuel busy days.
A lack of iron can result in a lack of energy. Broccoli is an excellent source of this important energy-enhancing nutrient and can help you fight fatigue.
Shrimps are protein-rich but low in calories and fat, which makes it the perfect food to boost your energy.
Popcorn can be a low-calorie, energizing whole grain snack, if you refrain from dousing it in butter. A 50-gram serving of air-popped popcorn provides a whopping 7 grams of fiber, which makes it one of the highest-fiber foods out there.
Beets are a great natural pick-me-up. The vibrant red root vegetable is a real stamina booster. When consumed before a workout, it can help increase the length of exercise by 16%. The boost is believed to come from the naturally occurring nitrates. Nitrates are compounds that help increase nitric oxide and improve blood flow and oxygen delivery throughout the body, making exercise less tiring. The best way to consume beets is to juice them. You can get a good juicer for less than $60. Learn more: Best Juicer for Beginners.
The combination of carbohydrates, fiber, and vitamin B give you long-lasting energy without the caffeine.
Never heard of pineberry? It’s a fusion of the words “pineapple” and “strawberry”. Pineberry is white and covered in red pips, it has the same genetic make-up as the strawberry but with a flavor and smell closer to that of the pineapple. Due to plenty of carbs, vitamins, and fiber, pineberries will naturally boost your energy levels.
Limes have a good source of minerals like potassium, magnesium, iron, calcium, as well as vitamins like folate, vitamin A, E and K. Lime peel and pulp are also rich in fiber, antioxidants, and polyphenols. Energy-enhancing lime water is easy to make: Just squeeze the juice from a piece of the lime into a glass of water and enjoy.
Ashwagandha is one of the most powerful herbs in Ayurvedic healing, it’s most well-known for its restorative benefits. In Sanskrit ashwagandha means “the smell of a horse” indicating that this powerful spice has the potential to give you the vigor and strength of a stallion.
Trimmed of skin, chicken is a great source of lean protein. It has almost none of that unhealthy saturated fat than other meats like beef or pork. A piece of grilled chicken with some steamed greens makes a perfect light dinner that won’t weigh you down.
Ginger gives you clean feeling energy throughout your day by improving your blood circulation.
Salmon is full of omega-3 fatty acids, nutrients that have been found to reduce depression and boost mental sharpness. Vitamin B6 and B12, riboflavin, and niacin will help fight fatigue by turning what you eat into energy. It’s also a great source of protein, which makes it a great energizing option for those trying to build muscles or lose weight.
Maca is a root that comes from Peru and is a popular supplement among athletes and bodybuilders. It has been claimed to help you increase strength, enhance endurance, and boost overall energy levels.
Celery is mainly water, but it’s also a good source of fiber, vitamin B, and vitamin C. It helps to balance sodium and potassium levels while reducing inflammation.
Wheatgrass is one of the most nourishing foods on the planet. Juice made of wheatgrass contains up to 70% chlorophyll, which is an important blood builder and aids in detoxing your body. Once your body is cleansed, you may see an increase in energy levels. Make your own wheatgrass juice at home: The Best Juicer for Leafy Greens.
Rich in vitamins and fiber, raspberries are a delicious fruit with many health benefits. They are high in strong antioxidants and have been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties.
Ginseng is the term used to refer to several species of the root Panax. Panax has been used for thousands of years to promote mental clarity and boost energy levels.
48. Organic Protein Powder
Not eating enough protein during the day can be the primary reason for fatigue. Protein takes longer than carbs to break down in the body, providing a long-lasting energy boost. I would go for an organic protein powder without added sugar or artificial sweeteners. Check out: Best Blender for Protein Shakes.
Açai berries are loaded with antioxidants, fatty acids, amino acids, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. They contain more antioxidants than other commonly eaten berries.
50. Dried Figs
Figs are chock full of vitamins, and their slow-burning sugar content is easily digestible, which can keep you energized for hours. They also naturally purify your blood and eliminate toxins from your body. For a long-lasting energy boost, choose brands without any extra sugar or preservatives.
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Pomegranate seeds are full of energy-producing iron and B vitamins, which encourages production of red blood cells and increases energy levels.
Kimchi is a traditional Korean side dish manufactured by fermenting vegetables with probiotic lactic acid bacteria. Probiotics are “good” bacteria found in the digestive tract that help to boost your immunity and synthesize B vitamins you need to maintain energy throughout your day.
The fish doesn’t always get the same attention as salmon, but it’s just as good for you. Halibut is rich in magnesium and vitamin B12, also known as the energy vitamin.
54. Green Salad
Salad greens are loaded with chlorophyll and a wide range of minerals and vitamins, making it one of the best ways to get a quick energy burst.
Pineapple is refreshing and full of the enzyme bromelain, which helps to cleanse the body and reduce inflammation. For the biggest energy boost, eat pineapple on an empty stomach.
56. Rooibos Tea
Rooibos tea has a great flavor and is packed with antioxidants. It is a great option for boosting energy between meals or late at night.
57. Coconut Water
The water inside the young coconut is a refreshing isotonic drink full of electrolytes. It’s naturally low in calories, rich in vitamins and a great way to stay hydrated.
Flaxseeds are one of the richest sources of omega-3 fatty acids. They are essential for our health as our body cannot produce them on its own. Essential fatty acids are vital for oxygen transfer, brain function, and energy production.
59. Barley Grass
Barley grass is an absolute nutritional powerhouse. It contains carotene, iron, magnesium, amino acids, as well as important enzymes that your body needs. It’s particularly rich in B vitamins, especially in B12, which is essential for high energy levels. Learn more about a powerful Japanese barley grass drink: Aojiru -- The Japanese Green Drink.
Rhodiola is a herb that grows in the mountainous regions of Asia and Europe. Scandinavian and Russian people have used Rhodiola for centuries to treat anxiety, depression, and fatigue. It may improve your exercise performance, and might even help to improve your capacity for mental work.
In India cinnamon has been used as a healing herb for centuries. It is thought to detoxify the system, has the ability to fight infections and stimulate brain function.
62. Green Juice
Juicing is one of the most powerful health habits you can cultivate in your life. It’s an easy way to get the energizing hit of vitamins, minerals, chlorophyll, and enzymes daily. Learn more: 6 Amazing Benefits of Vegetable Juicing.
If you’re new to juicing and want to get started, read my guide: Best Juicers for Beginners.
Alfalfa has a long history of use in Ayurvedic medicine to treat inflammatory conditions. This plant possesses high levels of vitamin C and B, as well as calcium and antioxidant compounds. All of these can reduce inflammation in the joints around the body, while also strengthening the immune system. It also contains iron, magnesium and the complete vitamin B spectrum as well, all of which can help boost energy levels in your body.
Guarana is a plant native to the Amazon regions known for its stimulant properties that have been used by Amazonian tribes for centuries. The seeds of a guarana berry contain 4-6 times the amount of caffeine as coffee beans, they also contain other stimulants such as theophylline and theobromine. A study found that people who took guarana felt less fatigued while completing subtraction tasks and even completed their tasks faster. If you want to boost your energy levels, guarana may be worth a try.
65. Pumpkin Seeds
Pumpkin seeds may be small, but they contain a wide variety of nutrients ranging from magnesium and manganese to protein, copper, and zinc. A one-quarter cup contains nearly half of the recommended daily amount of magnesium, which is essential for high energy levels.
Fresh squeezed lemon water is one of the best energy boosters around. It hydrates and oxygenates the body so it feels revitalized and refreshed. Lemons are one of the most alkaline-forming foods out there. By following an alkaline diet, you will have longer lasting mental clarity and energy. Try my warm lemon water recipe.
There’s a reason vanilla is one of the most popular flavors in the world, people love the smell and flavor of vanilla all over the world. But Vanilla is much more than a delicious ingredient in our desserts and baked goods, it contains a huge number of health benefits with a relatively low-calorie impact. Did you know that it is a potent antioxidant and can reduce inflammation? If you feel tired all the time, inflammation might be the cause of your fatigue.
68. Herbal Tea
Think about herbal tea if you want to increase your energy levels without caffeine. They are refreshing and uplifting and a much healthier alternative to coffee. There are various herbs you can choose, that have stimulating effects on the body. It’s a calmer and more natural energy boost than the one produced by coffee. My favorite energizing herbs are ginseng, ginger, astragalus, ginkgo biloba, lemongrass, and licorice.
69. Hemp Seeds
Hemp seeds provide your body with a great source of energy-enhancing iron. Iron is a key player in transporting oxygen to cells around your body. As the day progresses, this oxygen transport helps provide you with energy. It also contributes to the formation of red blood cells, helping you maintain high energy levels throughout the day.
Cashews are high in healthy fat, rich in vitamin E and a good source of magnesium and zinc. Especially magnesium plays a crucial role in the creation of energy in the body, by helping to create Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP).
Found in bread, curries and herbal teas, cardamom is the spice that gives chai tea its flavor. In Asia, it has long been valued for its ability to increase blood circulation and improve energy.
Grapefruits are low in calories but are full of nutrients and have a low glycemic index. This suggests that it does not significantly affect blood sugar and insulin levels, and provide you with stable energy levels.
Ghee is a variation of clarified butter from India. It has been used for thousands of years in Ayurvedic healing practices. Ghee is rich in medium chain fatty acids, which are very easy for our body to break down and give you a nice energy burst.
74. Nori Seaweed
Nori Seaweed is used to wrap sushi. Nori is a great source of micronutrients, containing more vitamins and minerals than most fruits and vegetables. It’s loaded with the energy-producing mineral, iodine. It’s also rich in B vitamins and especially high in vitamin B12, which is essential for high energy levels.
The first recorded use of kombucha comes from China in 221 BC, it was known as “The Tea of Immortality”. It’s made by adding specific strains of bacteria, yeast, and sugar to green or black tea, and then allowing it to ferment for at least one week. Like other fermented foods, kombucha is rich in probiotics, which makes your gut digest food more efficiently. Since your body has to work less to digest your food, you’re left with more energy.
76. Macadamia Nuts
Macadamia nuts made headlines because of its high fat content. 100 grams of macadamia contain 76g of fat. However, the majority of its fat are monounsaturated fats, which are great for both your energy levels and health. Macadamia nut is also rich in vitamin B complex, it’s particularly abundant with vitamin B1 that helps the body convert sugar into energy.
Kale is low in calorie, high in fiber and iron. It will fill you up and help keep your blood sugar stable. Kale also contains the amino acid L-tyrosine, which may help you give a mental lift. The best way to consume kale is to juice it: How to Juice Kale.
78. Brazil Nuts
Just one Brazil Nut provides your daily dose of selenium, an antioxidant that fights free radicals. It acts as a mood uplifter besides providing a healthy heart and digestive system. Brazil Nuts are also a good source of iron, copper, zinc, magnesium and omega-3 fatty acids.
Pistachios are packed with powerful protein, fiber and heart-healthy monounsaturated fats that add up to a perfectly energizing snack.
Aronia berries are said to have many health benefits, many are linked to its high content of nutrients called polyphenols. Aronia also contains a wide range of vitamins and minerals, including magnesium, zinc, and iron.
81. Sunflower Seeds
Despite their small size, sunflower seeds are a dense source of vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats. They are a great energizing snack, but it’s important to keep it simple. Many of the available varieties are roasted and loaded with high-sodium flavorings. Try to stick with raw, organic sunflower seeds.
Eating watermelon is a refreshing way to boost your energy level. This fruit contains 92% water and many nutrients to keep you hydrated & energetic.
Peppermint is very easy to grow in a pot or container at any time of year. The strong smell and taste of peppermint stimulate our senses. It enhances our focus and can provide clarity to thinking.
This tiny red colored, shiny fruit is an excellent source of iron, potassium, calcium and vitamin B complex, all of which can help boost energy levels in your body.
The papaya is an incredibly healthy tropical fruit loaded with vitamins and antioxidants. Christopher Columbus called it “the fruit of the angels” because it is so delicious. Papayas are also very high in carotenoids that have anti-inflammatory benefits and can help you reduce fatigue.
86. Apple Cider Vinegar
Exercise and extreme stress cause lactic acid to build up in the body, which causes fatigue. The amino acids in apple cider vinegar can act as an antidote. Apple cider vinegar also contains enzymes and potassium that may relieve that tiredness. Next time you’re feeling that afternoon slump, add one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to a glass of water to boost your energy.
Known for being loaded with vitamin C, this citrus fruit also contains lots of folate and potassium. Oranges ration out energy steadily instead of giving you a quick sugar rush.
Turmeric is the spice that gives curry its yellow color. The primary compound is that of curcumin, a substance with powerful anti-inflammatory properties. Switching away from a pro-inflammatory diet to a more anti-inflammatory diet is one powerful way to improve your fatigue.
89. Reishi Mushroom
Mushrooms are only good for topping off your pizza? Think again! Reishi mushroom, or “Lingzhi” in Chinese, has been used medicinally for over 4000 years and is one of the oldest symbols of longevity and well-being. It is anti-inflammatory and has been found to potentially boost mood and reduce fatigue and anxiety.
Mangos taste so good that people sometimes forget they are also healthy. Mango is “the king of fruits”. Beyond the sweet, luscious taste of mangos, they are also packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that keep you feeling awake.
91. Cottage Cheese
One cup of cottage cheese contains 25 grams of proteins and has decent amounts of vitamins B1, B3, and B6, as well as iron, magnesium, copper, and zinc.
Mussels are packed with the energy-producing vitamin B12. Just 3 oz of mussels provides 100 percent of your daily requirement.
Kelp, a type of seaweed, has been an essential component of East Asian diets for centuries. It is found on the coasts of Japan and Korea and is an excellent source of magnesium, potassium, iron, iodine, and calcium. Kelp also contains fucoidan, a type of complex carbohydrate with potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
This bright-green veggie is filled with vitamins and minerals like vitamins A, C, E, K, and B6, as well as iron, folate, copper, calcium, fiber, and protein. Thanks to all these nutrients, asparagus is a great energizing food.
95. Swiss Chard
Swiss chard is an excellent source of vitamins A, C, and K, as well as a good source of potassium, magnesium, iron, copper, and fiber. Iron and copper are both essential elements of red blood cells, and without it, you can develop anemia, which shows itself as weakness, fatigue and lack of concentration.
Pears are great for your health, due to their high fiber content, vital nutrients, and minerals. The high glucose content gives you instant energy when you feel weak.
Even though there are hundreds of different types of beans, their nutrient profiles are very similar. They are all low in fat, high in fiber, and give a good balance of protein and carbs. Fiber stabilizes the blood sugar in your body, which prevents dips in energy levels. They’re also packed with essential energy-producing nutrients like magnesium and iron.
98. Green Tea
Because of the L-theanine and the small dose of caffeine, green tea can give you a much milder and more stable “buzz” than coffee. Many people (myself included) report being much more productive when they drink green tea, compared to coffee.
Two tablespoons of parsley provide two percent of your daily iron and calcium; 12 percent of your Vitamin A; 16 percent of your vitamin C; and 150 percent of your vitamin K. A sprinkling of parsley gives any food a little energy boost.
Skip the mayo and spread avocado onto your sandwiches for a lunchtime pick-me-up that will keep your energy levels high throughout the rest of the day. Avocados are full of healthy monounsaturated fats and fiber, which are digested more slowly, resulting in more sustainable energy. Check out: Top 6 Reasons Why Avocados Are Good for You
In your experience, what are the best energizing foods? Are there any foods I was missing? Share in the comments below. I would love to hear from you.