We all know that working Monday-Friday on a 9-5 shift can suck the energy right out of you, leaving you tired and unable to exercise after work. There are plenty of foods and drinks that can give you energy without resorting to unhealthy energy drinks that wear you out and feeling sick afterwards. Here are our 10 favorite drinks and foods that give you energy (in no particular order):
- Peanut Butter
If you need some energy and wish to keep your blood-sugar levels stable, approximately 2 tablespoons of peanut butter is the best way to go. Add it to your smoothie for some additional protein. If you are on the go, you can cover a piece of toast with peanut butter for breakfast or even as a snack before/after the gym.
Almonds, cashews, hazelnuts and pistachios contain magnesium, which is an electrolyte that is needed for muscles to properly function. Studies show that those who have low magnesium levels are those who tend to become tired quicker when exercising. Almonds also contain B-vitamins (thiamin, riboflavin, niacin and folate), which are essential for converting food to energy.
To avoid fatigue and reduced concentration throughout your busy schedule, snack on nuts to avoid lower levels of vitamin B. Brazil nuts are a great source of energy, healthy fats, vitamin E, and selenium, which is proven to protect our bodies from cancer and boost your mood. Don’t overdo it though, as too much selenium can be harmful. Two or three Brazil nuts a day is recommended.
Salmon, a.k.a. “brain food,” is a great energy booster to have after an exhausting day. Salmon contains omega-3 acids, which reduce depression, improve memory, increase your energy and boost your mood. It also includes healthy fats which help lower bad cholesterol and lower blood pressure which helps lower your risk for cardiovascular disease (number one leading cause of death in America). Lastly, the high protein count in salmon, which as we learned earlier, leads to an increase in energy.
- Dark Chocolate
Although it may be hard for some to believe, dark chocolate has many health benefits. It’s a mood booster along with being an energizer, due to the caffeine and a stimulant called theobromine. Theobromine is a bitter chemical compound obtained from cacao seeds. Its structure is very similar to that of caffeine. The darker the chocolate, the better.
Quick Tip: Cacao is much more beneficial to your health than cocoa. You can add it to your shakes for that extra boost of energy.
Sometimes you need that quick, short-term energy boost. Coffee is your answer for this. If you are looking to stay alert, mini-servings of it frequently throughout the day would be your best bet. It should be noted that caffeine sometimes provides false energy, meaning that you can actually start to feel more tired after it peaks.
Staying hydrated is the key to feeling alert and energized all day. And what’s the best and healthiest (and most obvious) way to keep hydrated you might ask? Well water, of course! Mild dehydration is proven to slow down metabolism and make you feel tired. Other unsweetened beverages will also work, but water is the best option.
Yogurt, specifically Greek yogurt, is a combo of protein, fat, and carbs (along with its lower sugar content). Plain yogurt with fresh fruit added and granola and/or nuts is a great breakfast or snack to boost your energy. Don’t buy the yogurt with fruit at the bottom. Greek Yogurt gives off twice the amount of hunger-satisfying protein as regular yogurt.
Bananas are the easiest snacks, especially if you are on the go. You can have one as a pre or even post workout snack. A great energy boost would be dicing up a banana and mixing it in some Greek yogurt. Bananas are filled with potassium, B vitamins and fiber. Bananas contain three natural sugars – sucrose, fructose and glucose giving us an instant boost of energy. Research has proven that just two bananas provide enough energy for a 90-minute workout. They are also high in B vitamins that help calm the nervous system. The benefits of bananas are endless. For a great treat, check out our banana ice cream recipe.
Oatmeal is a tremendous breakfast option being that contains many health benefits. It’s high in fiber and provides lasting energy. Since fiber takes longer to digest, having it in the morning for breakfast is your best option. Your blood sugar levels will stay stable for the morning, leaving you feeling energized all afternoon. Oatmeal is also filling so it won’t leave you wanting more food after just an hour.
By now I think everyone knows how amazingly nutritious this superfood is. Kale is filled with antioxidants and fiber to keep your blood sugar stable. The manganese in kale helps your brain function at its best. Kale also has anti-cancer benefits, protects against heart disease, is high in potassium, and has anti-inflammatory benefits along with many other benefits, so including it in your diet is a must.
Quick Tip: Kale tastes delicious in tabbouli (a salad that contains parsley, tomatoes, onions, barley (or quinoa), olive oil, salt and lots of lemon juice). Try adding kale for even more nutritional benefits.