Some foods and drinks provide more sustained energy than others! Maybe you are about to chug that can of sugary energy drink on your desk to fight off fatigue. Hold on! There are many more natural options, to boost your energy level. We've prepared a handy list of healthy and delicious energy boosters, picked and summarised just for you.
There are many myths around apples, but one thing for sure is that apples provide great health benefits thanks to their high nutritional value. The natural sugar found in apples can be quickly absorbed into our bloodstream and give us a 'sugar rush'. The skin contains a hefty amount of fibre that slowly unleashes energy and prevents 'sugar crash'.
One medium-size banana gives you about 27g of complex carbohydrate that can effectively fuel your body. It also contains around 422mg of potassium that is essential for our body to function normally. If you want to have some fruits but are on the go, a banana can be perfect for you as it is easily peeled.
3. Beans & Legumes
Some great examples include chickpeas, soybeans, lentils, and edamame. Beans and legumes are packed with nutrients such as protein and fibre, which are slowly digested, so they can make you feel full for a long time. Beans and legumes are also rich in magnesium and iron that contribute to energy production.
4. Beef Liver
Organ meats might seem a bit too much for some people, but here is a fact: They are very nutritious! Beef liver is rich in vitamin B12 that contributes to energy production and may increase the energy level of those with vitamin B12 deficiency. Don't like organs? No worries, rich vitamin B12 can also be found in other animal products.
Besides being a good source of folate, manganese, potassium that optimise our body function, beetroots have a generous amount of nitrate. Studies have shown that nitrate improves endurance. Maybe you should consider replacing those sugary energy drinks with beetroot juice for better health and energy.
It is great news for all of us that tasty berries, such as strawberries, goji berries, and avocados (yes, botanically they are in fact berries), are actually amazing energy boosters. Berries are typically high in antioxidants that can help to promote energy. They are also low in carbs. If you want something sweet but are on a low-carb diet, berries are here for you.
7. Chicken Breasts
Famous for their abundant amount of lean protein, chicken breasts can help with muscle maintenance and growth. Protein is also proved to be the most filling nutrient. So if you include chicken breast as part of your meal, you're less likely to be lacking energy out of hunger a few hours after. What's more, they contain less unhealthy fat than red meats which makes them even healthier.
With the modern saying “don't talk to me before I've had my coffee”, coffee should not come as a surprising energy booster. The generous amount of caffeine in coffee quickly enters your bloodstream and stimulates the brain. That is why many people choose to drink a cup of coffee in the morning to start the day. Just make sure not to drink too much as it can keep you awake in the inappropriate hours.
9. Dark Chocolate
Who says chocolate is bad for you? Enjoying some chocolate with at least 70% cacao can be a good way to boost your energy. The rich content of antioxidants in cacao increase your body's blood flow that can help to ease your mental tiredness. It is also well-known for its tastiness and positive effect on our mood. In our Healthy Matters team, we love to grab a small piece of 78% dark chocolate every day in the office!
10. Dark, Leafy Green Vegetables
Vegetables are essential for overall health as they are an excellent source of various nutrients. Dark, leafy greens like spinach and kale give you an amazing dose of iron, fibre, vitamin C and vitamin K. They not only prevent you from tiredness due to iron deficiency, but they also improve bowel movement with fibre, increase the absorption of iron with vitamin C, and support blood clotting with vitamin K.
Eggs are versatile as you can make both sweet or salty delights out of them. They are also easily cooked. What's even better is that they are packed with proteins that can provide you with sustained energy. In addition, you can find all the essential amino acids in eggs, especially leucine which stimulates energy production in different ways.
12. Fatty Fish
Fatty fish like tuna and salmon also contain a great amount of protein for steady energy. Omega-3 fatty acids are also abundant in fatty fish. They have been proven to have the ability to reduce inflammation, which frequently causes fatigue. Around 2.5g of omega-3 fatty acids can be found in 100g of fresh, smoked tuna. It means that one serving of tuna can already fulfil your daily recommended intake of omega-3 fatty acids.
13. Green Tea
If you are not a coffee drinker, green tea can be a good substitution for you. With a small dose of caffeine and the amino acid L-theanine, green tea can quickly give us an energy boost as well as stimulate the generation of dopamine and alpha waves, improving our mood. Green tea can also help to reduce inflammation with its polyphenols content.
Almonds, walnuts, etc. are perfect snacks and good for our well-being. Nuts are a great source of nutrients including protein and healthy fat, which together provide us with steady and sustained energy. Peanuts and everyone’s favourite peanut butter can also be your options. Just make sure to buy the ones without too much added sugar.
While we all know that oranges are generous of vitamin C, it might be lesser known that they have antioxidant compounds that can help to reduce oxidative stress which might promote tiredness. If you don't like eating the whole fruit itself, 100% natural orange juice without added sugar could be a choice for you!
When some of the most famous ‘superfoods’ like chia seeds and quinoa (it is usually regarded as a grain but in fact a seed) are under this category, it seems to suggest that seeds are super good for us. Indeed, seeds bring you an abundant amount of magnesium, iron, fiber and other nutrients that not only help you easier hit the daily nutritional targets, but also provide you sustained energy as they keep you full for a long period.
Water is definitely the cheapest and easiest choice. Our body needs sufficient water to function normally. Since we lose water every second through breathing, sweating and other different ways, make sure to keep yourself hydrated. Feeling tired is one of the most common symptoms of dehydration, so we recommend you to bring a bottle of water with you anywhere!
18. Whole Grains
For all 'carb-lovers' out there, whole-grain foods (such as oats, brown rice and wholemeal bread) would be the energy booster you are looking for. Whole grains are rich in complex carbohydrates that effectively fuel your body, unlike simple carbohydrates. Enjoying a bowl of porridge with berries on top or a slice of avocado toast for breakfast is a good way to start your day!
19. Yams and Sweet Potatoes
Baked yams, sweet potatoes fries... all those savoury dishes made from yams and sweet potatoes can provide you steady and sustained energy with their high value of complex carbohydrates. 100g of sweet potatoes, besides having around 21g of carbohydrates, also satisfy a quarter of your daily intake of manganese and as high as about 380% of your daily intake of vitamin A.
Here comes the last one on the list, yogurt packs with various nutrients, including calcium, magnesium and potassium, that optimise our body function. Phosphorus, a mineral that involves in energy production, in a cup of yogurt takes up to 38% of your daily requirement. We recommend plain Greek yogurt as there can be a lot of added sugar in some store-bought regular yogurt that might lead you to 'sugar crash'. If you want a little more sweet taste, strawberries and blueberries are perfect matches with yogurt!
The Final Word
Generally speaking, all foods and drinks provide energy, but some of them can drain your energy shortly after. You might want to avoid those contain lots of added sugar or unhealthy fat, such as candy bars and fast food.
There are more good options apart from ones on the list above. Different nutrients, such as vitamin, fiber, fat and protein, are all essential for body functioning, but it is crucial to find a balance. Our diet should always contain various nutritious foods for sustained energy.
Important: Although the food and drinks discussed above are generally good for health. Anything excessive can reverse the benefits. Therefore, remember the mantra - “everything in moderation”.
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This article was independently written by Healthy Matters and is not sponsored. It is informative only and not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be relied upon for specific medical advice.