We’ve all been there. It’s 3 pm and your head is getting heavier, it’s hard to focus and you know the afternoon slump has arrived. You need to increase energy levels stat. Resist the urge to reach for a coffee or sugary snack just because your defenses are down.
While it’s true that your body converts all food into energy, there are certain foods you can eat that will produce more energy than others. Keep in mind that foods high in fat and calories can leave you feeling fatigued because they require more energy to digest. Instead, fuel your body with these good-for-you foods all day long, whether you incorporate them into your meals or use them as your go-to snack. They’re high in the protein, vitamins, and minerals you need to feel awake, alert, and high-functioning all day long — and they taste great, too!
- Oatmeal – this should be your go-to breakfast if you have a busy day ahead of you. With its high fiber content, oatmeal will power you through the entire morning. It also helps stabilize blood sugar levels, which will leave you feeling energized and focused without the need for another cup of coffee. Avoid the sugar filled packets if possible and look for steel cut oats to which you can add your favorite fruit or a bit of honey.
- Almonds – almonds are a rock star snack when your energy levels are low. They are full of nutrients like magnesium and B vitamins that help convert food to energy. Research suggests that people with low magnesium levels tend to tire more quickly because of its role in energy metabolism.
- Bananas – Bananas are nature’s pre-packaged and portable boost of energy. They’re filled with fiber, B vitamins and potassium – all nutrients that promote sustained energy. Looking for that perfect energy boosting combination of fiber and protein? Pair your banana with a glass of low-fat milk or cup of yogurt or dip it in some peanut or almond butter.
- Kale – it may not be your favorite, but if you replace your iceberg lettuce with kale, you’ll get a huge energy boost that you otherwise wouldn’t from your salad. You can also throw it into your favorite soup and pasta recipes. Kale contains antioxidants and fiber, plus the amino acid L-tyrosine, which gives you a mental boost.
- Hummus – hummus is a Mediterranean dip made from chickpeas, sesame-based tahini, olive oil and lemon juice and it’s an energy powerhouse. The fiber and protein from the beans help stabilize blood sugar, ward off hunger pangs and boost your energy naturally. Use it as a dip for veggies.