Due to our increasingly busy lifestyles, it has become the norm for people to feel tired or run-down at some point during the day due to a lack of energy. Within the UK, 1 in 5 people feel unusually tired, and 1 in 10 experience prolonged fatigue. This in turn may affect our daily activities and make us less productive.
It has been proven that the type and quantity of food you eat play an essential role in determining your energy levels during the day. Even though all foods provide you with energy, there are some foods that contain nutrients that can help boost your energy naturally throughout the day.
Here is a list of foods that have been proven to help to boost your energy naturally.
Research has found that bananas are a fantastic source of energy, and are ideal for people who are lacking in energy, or for those who often work out (1). Just two bananas provide enough calories for a 1- 1 1/2 hour workout or walk. As well as this, bananas provide excellent nutrition before, during, and after endurance exercise (2). One study found that eating a banana before a 75-km cycling trial was as effective as having a carbohydrate drink for improving the performance of endurance athletes (4). This is because bananas contain a good amount of carbohydrates, potassium, and vitamin B6 – all of which can help boost energy levels in your body (5).
With this said, bananas are an ideal energy booster when feeling tired and sluggish due to the potassium, which aids the body’s circulatory system in delivering oxygen to the brain, helps the body maintain a regular heartbeat, lowers blood pressure and helps maintain a proper balance of water in the body (6). This makes bananas one of the best foods for energy!
The great thing about eating bananas is that they are so versatile! You can enjoy them raw, cooked or frozen, or enjoy them with other high energy foods such as peanut butter.
Leafy Green Vegetables
We have all heard of Popeye the sailor man who ate spinach to make him strong and grow muscles. This my friends, is closer to the truth than you may have thought!
Leafy greens such as spinach and kale are excellent sources of nutrients that promote energy. They are high in iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and vitamins A, C, E, and K, as well as folic acid and antioxidants that provide health benefits (7). One of the main antioxidants that these vegetables provide is iron, and one of the most common symptoms of iron deficiency is fatigue (8). Eating leafy green vegetables like spinach and kale helps to fight fatigue by replenishing your body’s stores. Iron also enhances the production of red blood cells for the delivery of oxygen to your cells, which is known to also fight fatigue (9). Eating green vegetables along with vitamin C can help enhance the absorption of iron in the body (10).
These are a great snack and are packed with energy-boosting nutrients. Nuts like almonds, walnuts, and cashews are known for their high calories and abundance of proteins, carbs, and healthy fats, however, these nutrients can also provide you with a slow release of energy throughout the day (11). This is because they contain vitamins and minerals such as manganese, iron, B vitamins, and vitamin E, which can help increase energy production and decrease tiredness (12) (13) (14).
These nuts are also high in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, that can increase energy levels, and provide antioxidant protection (15). Additionally, they have a decent amount of carbs for a steady and sustained energy boost (16).
Water is essential for your body to function. Over 60% of your body weight is water, and it is involved in many cellular functions, including energy production (17). Not drinking enough water can not only lead to dehydration, but can also slow down body functions leaving you feeling sluggish and tired (18) (19). Therefore, drinking water could give you a boost of energy and help fight off feelings of fatigue (20).
To avoid dehydration, try to drink water even when you are not thirsty and at regular intervals throughout the day.
Sweet potatoes are a nutritious and delicious source of energy for those looking for an extra energy boost. Just one medium-sized sweet potato packs up to 23 grams of carbs, 28% of the recommended daily intake for manganese, and a massive 438% of the RDI for vitamin A! (21).
Sweet potatoes are a complex carb, meaning that the body digests it at a slower pace and as a result of this provides you with a steady supply of energy (22). Moreover, sweet potatoes are also a great source of manganese, which helps in the breakdown of nutrients to produce energy (23).
Dark chocolate is packed with antioxidants which have been shown to have many health benefits, such as increasing blood flow throughout the body (24). Increased blood flow helps the delivery of oxygen to the brain and muscles, which improves their functions (25). The increase in blood flow produced by antioxidants could help reduce mental fatigue and improve mood (26).
Additionally, dark chocolate also contains compounds such as theobromine and caffeine, which have been shown to enhance mental energy and mood (27). If you are going to eat chocolate for an energy boost, 70% dark chocolate is usually a good option as it has a higher cocoa content than regular or milk chocolate.
Eggs are not only satisfying, but they can also provide you with energy to fuel your day! They are packed with protein, which can give you a steady and sustained source of energy because it does not cause spikes in blood sugar and insulin when it is digested (28). They are also rich in B vitamins which help your body break down food for energy (29) (30).
Additionally, leucine is the most abundant amino acid in eggs, and is known to stimulate energy production in several ways. Some of these include helping cells take in more blood sugar, stimulating the production of energy in the cells, and increasing the breakdown of fat to produce energy (31)
Porridge contains a combination of nutrients that make it a perfect food for boosting energy levels. It is rich in vitamins and minerals that help the energy production process including B vitamins, iron, and manganese (32) (33).
The main ingredient in porridge is beta-glucan, a soluble fibre that forms a thick gel when combined with water. The presence of this gel delays stomach emptying, and the absorption of glucose into the blood (32). This results in slow energy release, keeping you energised throughout the day.
There are a variety of foods that can help boost your energy.
Whether they are packed with carbohydrates – for readily available energy, or fibre and protein – for a slower release of energy, the foods named above can help increase your mood and energy levels. Furthermore, many of these foods also contain good amounts of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, which have been shown to be involved in energy production within your cells, as well as provide many other health benefits.
If you want more energy, incorporating these foods into your diet is a good place to start!