We all know when that 3pm slump hits we go searching for the coffee and donuts to see us through to the end of the day (uh… yum), but the problem is, an hour later you’re left in the same sluggish, tired and drab state you were before. Not the best. Which is why you should look for foods to give you a natural boost in energy instead. And I promise, it’s not as ‘kale smoothie’ as it sounds.
Although it is understandable to want quick and ready solutions to low energy, beware that sweet beverages and candy will stimulate your brain by triggering blood sugar levels. As a result, you will enjoy a short stint of high before a crash. This quick drop in blood sugar will increase cravings for more energy-zapping foods, experts reveal. It is important to find the sources of a natural boost in energy that are safe and friendly to your health.
The biggest trick is to keep some of these foods as healthy snacks on hand for when you’re feeling sluggish, and to make sure you get a fix of some of these foods each day to keep that natural buzz going.
Here are some of the best foods, which are good for high energy levels.
1 – Fatty Fish
Not exactly easy to carry around in your handbag, but salmon is the best and most used example of fatty fish. They have the best combination of protein, fatty acids, and vitamin B. Including salmon in your diet means you will be boosting your resilience and maximizing your energy sustenance mechanism. Omega-3 fatty acids present are good anti-inflammatories and are fantastic at relieving fatigue.
Many people use fatty acids from salmon and tuna as effective anti-inflammatories (but they often buy them in pill/vitamin form over the counter). The vitamin B12 present works with folic acid to produce red blood cells to boost iron content in their bodies. High levels of red blood cells and iron content make you resilient to fatigue. Instead, you have high bouts of energy sustained for a long time.
Add fatty fish into your diet 3 – 4 times a week to help with energy levels, and you can even carry around a tin of tuna in your bag for a healthy snack on the go (just avoid the ones with heaps of fake flavouring in them).
2 – Quinoa
Who would have thought you could get so much protein from a grain? Given its high protein value, quinoa is a great accompaniment to any meal of the day, and can provide a much-needed midday boost of energy.
Add it to your salads for a bit of bulk, use it as a breakfast option instead of oats, or as a side dish for your dinner.
3 – Sweet Potatoes
Apart from their delicious taste, which makes them one of the most beloved of foods in many cultures, sweet potatoes offer the natural boost in energy you need. Studies reveal that one medium-sized sweet potato can produce at least 23 grams of carbs and an amazing 438% of RDI for vitamin A, which means it’s great even if you eat a low carb diet.
Your body digests sweet potatoes at a slow rate because of the presence of fiber and complex carbohydrates. This means you will be enjoying a steady supply of energy for the longest time. These properties make sweet potatoes one of the most reliable sources of energy that is sustainable. Presence of manganese in abundance also helps breakdown the carbohydrates and protein to generate high amounts of energy.
They are also incredibly versatile, able to be used in both sweet and savoury dishes. Try making pancakes with sweet potato mashed up, eggs and a little almond flour, yum!
4 – Eggs
Eggs have had a bad wrap over the years, but finally studies are supporting what many have known for a long time – eggs are a little powerhouse of health! And, they are a great source of energy to fuel your body for the day.
They come packed with protein, which is a good source of sustained energy and help you to feel fuller for longer. Most importantly, it does not cause high sudden rises in blood sugar and insulin when digested.
The most abundant amino acid in eggs, leucine stimulates energy production too. It helps cells’ action of taking in more blood sugar to increase the breakdown of fat for maximum energy. Another bonus is that eggs are also rich in vitamin B, which means they aid your enzyme action in breaking down of food for energy and give you a little happy boost.
They are great for breakfast, snacks (boiled eggs or mini egg muffin), or even adding to your lunch or dinner, making them super versatile and easy to add to your daily diet.
5 – Nuts
While you may shy away from nuts due to their higher calorie levels than other snack foods, this means that nuts also pack a punch when it comes to higher energy levels.
You don’t need to add a whole heap of them or make an entire meal out of them to reap the benefits.
Add some nuts to your smoothie of a morning, sprinkle some crushed up nuts across your salad at lunch or grab a handful of almonds as a quick snack on the go.
6 – Brown Rice
In contrast to white rice, brown rice is less processed hence retains most of the nutritional value in the form of fibre, vitamins, and minerals. This high fibre content also comes with high manganese and other minerals that aid enzymes break down carbohydrates and proteins for maximum energy potential.
The high fibre content in brown rice is responsible for its low glycemic index. This means it is able to regulate blood sugar levels and aid in the maintenance of steady energy levels all day. Brown rice is, therefore, a reliable source of a natural boost in energy.
Simply swap out your white rice for brown rice in your favourite dishes.
7 – Apples
Apples are familiar around the world and loved equally across diverse cultures. They are good sources of carbohydrates and fibre. A regular apple of medium-size contains at least 25 grams of carbs and an additional 4 grams of fibre. Apart from their role as fibre boosters in your body, apples are also rich in natural sugars, which give them their delicious taste. These sugars provide a slow and sustained energy boost for the user.
Apples are also high in anti-oxidants making them one of the best energy boosters. Research indicates that these anti-oxidants slow down the digestion of carbohydrates to release energy over a long period.
To take advantage of apples fully, eat them whole. Juicing eliminates the fibre responsible for slow digestion and leaves you with a high sugar rush, even though it is a natural sugar. The fibre is essential. You can add them to smoothies by adding them chopped up and blitzing in a blender with your favourite smoothie ingredients.
8 – Greek Yoghurt
Not to be confused with the sugar laden varieties available, natural Greek Yoghurt can be used as the perfect breakfast topper, mid afternoon snack or even indulgent dessert option to help you feel fuller and more energised (maybe not the best thing right before bed).
Team it up with other fellow energy boosting foods like bananas and walnuts and you’ve got yourself a snack that will make you feel like you’re cheating on your healthy eating, but will give you tons of great energy and health benefits.
9 – Bananas
Bananas are one of the most common foods available around the world and are relatively cheap snacks to keep on hand. They are also proven high suppliers of energy to your body.
Since they have abundant carbohydrates, potassium, and vitamin B6, they are able to boost energy levels in the body. According to a recent study, subjects who took a banana before a long distance cycling event serve as much energy as a carbohydrate drink. A single banana produced enough energy for endurance in athletes for optimal performance just as good as consuming a can of carbonated energy drinks did (without all the downfalls of the processed drink).
You could even give yourself an amazing energy boost in the morning with these banana pancakes (with just bananas and eggs – delish!).
We often overlook these simple foods to give you a natural boost in energy and opt for the quick fix in coffee and sugar. But try adding them in to see if your energy levels increase and find some go-to recipes you love to keep on hand too. Food is fuel, use it wisely.