Food with a load of calories, sugar, and fat cost a lot of energy to digest. If you often feel tired, it might be a good idea to adjust your diet. Find out what the best food for energy is for you. There will surely be a couple of foods on the list that you like and to which your body responds well.
When we go shopping or walk into town, the temptation of fast food and quick snacks are lurking for us. We are wired for sweet and salt, because for our ancestors these flavours were scarce, yet provided a lot of calories and nutrients. Our environment changed drastically, but our taste didn’t keep pace with that change.
Fast food has a lot of refined sugars and empty calories. If ‘yummy’ is our only criterion to choose food, we won’t feel that ‘yummy’ ourselves over time.
Related: 5 + 10 Successful Essential Supplements for Energy
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Best food for energy
Food can drain us of our energy if we eat the wrong foods or too much. Yet, there are a lot of foods, including the so-called superfoods, that provide us with energy. Some for energy that lasts a day, some to give us a boost.
1. Sweet potatoes
The sweet potato is not a ‘normal’ potato, because it belongs to a different plant family than the potato. As the name says they are sweeter than the white potato, but it is a natural form of sugar, not the refined bad sugar. They contain a lot of vitamin A and vitamin C that boost energy.
In the old days, honey was used to heal wounds, nowadays it is believed to heal digestive inconveniences and even prevent heart disease. I use it to ease my at times sore throat. It is a nice extra that honey also provides energy.
Bananas are almost exclusively sugars and fibres and give us energy instantly. Delicious in the morning with nuts and (almond) yoghurt. At times, we do our daily walk before breakfast and eat a banana before we leave the house. Easy and quick.
Related: What is the Function of Dietary Fiber for our Body?
Oranges are rich in vitamin B9, vitamin C and Potassium. Contrary to bananas that boost your energy immediately, oranges will give you energy for the long run. Most of the vitamin is located directly under the shell.
Apples, like oranges, give you energy for a longer period. They have a lot of fibre, vitamin C, and micronutrients and are delicious to eat both raw or as compote.
Usually, I eat dried apricots, because they contain a lot of iron. Especially when I was younger, I often had anaemia, so I often ate a handful at the end of the afternoon. Not knowing this also has been a blessing for my energy levels.
As a child I hated spinach! But Popeye ate it for a reason 🙂 As young parents, we avoided spinach, because of warnings from the Dutch Food Agency. The amount of Nitrate was said to be too much. Nowadays – as often happens with warnings – the Food Agency has retracted the warning.
I know a bodybuilder that eats at least 12 eggs a day. Is that healthy? I really don’t know, all I know is I couldn’t. And I believe variation is important, that’s why I list so many foods that give you energy. Then you can choose something different each day.
9. Brown rice
Brown rice is a good source of fibre, but it is also high in manganese, which gives you energy throughout the day. White rice contains no nutrients due to the refining process, unlike brown rice.
Like brown rice, quinoa contains a lot of manganese, providing longer-lasting energy. Quinoa is said to be a super grain. It has more fibres than other grains and a lot of micronutrients like iron and vitamin B2.
The caffeine in coffee helps you to stay focused and gives you an instant boost of energy. So much so, that if you drink it too much and too late in the day, it will keep you from sleeping.
12. Green tea
Most green tea enthusiasts drink it because of the high amount of antioxidants in it. Antioxidants are healthy for the ageing body, and for the brain as well. Usually, green tea has less caffeine than coffee, but it can still keep you awake if your sleep is not too well.
In South America mate is a traditional tea, which they drink a lot. Like green tea and coffee, it contains caffeine, giving you energy.
All nuts have great health benefits. I wrote extensively about them in this article. Almonds are consumed best with the brown shell and are delicious at the end of the day.
15. Goji berries
At times food drops out of sight and then – all of a sudden it seems – are back in everyone’s attention. I had never heard of goji berries, quinoa, or chia seed a couple of years ago and now I eat them regularly. Goji berries are considered one of the superfoods.
Related: Is it OK to Eat Goji Berries Every Day? (Are they Really Healthy?)
16. Chia seed
The main reason for me to eat chia seeds is the amount of omega-3 they contain. When your cholesterol levels should be watched, like mine, omega-3 is healthy because of the fatty acids it has.
17. Pumpkin seeds
Pumpkin seeds are a great source of magnesium, iron, and vitamin B. You can roast them as well, just make sure you don’t heat them up too much and too long, to prevent the loss of the nutrients.
Related: Best Seeds to Eat for your Daily Dose of Healthy Supplements
18. Fatty fish
Salmon, Sardines, and Mackerel are huge sources of Omega-3 like chia seeds. And unlike meat, they don’t cost you energy to digest but provide you with it.
19. Dark chocolate
Don’t you love chocolate? I know I do. Just make sure you buy pure chocolate, without added sugar. I love the chocolate mix of Your Super, one of my favorite brands.
Like a lot of other foods listed here, avocado is a superfood. We are lucky over here in Spain that there is even a choice in several organically grown kinds of avocado.
How can water give you energy when there are so few nutrients or calories in it? Water is essential to stay hydrated. When we don’t drink enough water our bodies are drained of energy.
Oops, my bad, I left some out
I have left out some foods that give you more energy, but are in my eyes bad for the environment or have some health hazards for either me or my husband.
Such as soybeans. The deforestation of the Amazon is partly the result of soybean cultivation. And soy puts a film on the inside of your intestines that prevents the intake of nutrients.
Other beans are a source of energy, but as they are also purine-rich, my husband doesn’t eat them to prevent gout attacks. And I have left out yoghurt. We don’t eat dairy.
Making this list a little biased. 🙂 But now you know!
What food gives you a lot of energy? Tell us in the comment box.
19 thoughts on “What is the Best Food for Energy? My 21 Favourites!”
Thank you for your post. Sometimes I question myself when I go for groceries. “What do I need to buy?”, “What are the best food for energy?”, “Quick snacks or healthy food?” something like that. I know smells of fast food that I can’t keep it out, but after that I will do a lot of exercise to burn those trans fat. Which is quite hard work. I’d prefer some healthy food when I thought of “what after when you had those fast food?”.
I have vegetarian meals like thrice a week, and those foods you mention above (except fish and meat products), are also good for people who are vegetarians. Well done, I hope to read more about your post in future!
Thanks, Ling. Yes, there is a lot of choice for vegetarians as well, if they want to eat food that energizes. Plants are most of the time better than for instance meat, because they cost less energy to digest.
Good of you to try to choose healthy food instead of fast food. 🙂
This is a beautifully written article and you deserve full marks for it.
The way you have explained the best and most nutritious diet for energy is indeed great. And the best is, in this situation its a very good idea to adjust our diet and keep ourself full of energy, and healthy.
i think you would have a lot of people visiting your website.
That is so sweet of you to say, Aparna, and yes, I always hope my articles give people useful information and inspiration to stay or become healthy. And food plays a great role in that.
Another highly informative and inspiring post from you. I love the list of all the familiar foods that most of us tend to consume on a day to day basis such as, I eat almonds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, green tea, water, brown rice, spinach, bananas, honey, oranges and apples.
I must say I also have oats, lemon water, medjool dates, peppermint tea, berry burst tea and so on – they all give me boost of energy. I also tend to have natural yogurt for probiotics, not for the energy. What would you recommend alternative probiotics to dairy?
Hi Habib, an alternative could be kefir water. I must say, I have tried it for a couple of months, I liked the taste, but it was such a lot of work that I called it a day after some time. And as far as I know, fermented food is a good source for probiotics. So sauerkraut would be great. Fermented food is fast on its way to become the new fad diet. 🙂
This is a brilliant blog.
I like bananas, they are my go to fruits for when I need an energy boost.
A lot of things we crave for sugar and salt like you said
At least, we have a consolation in the dark chocolates.
I like fish and eggs. I even had 2 for dinner. I find that if I took oranges as my late night snack, I was less constipated. And of course water.
You can’t go wrong with it.
I really like this. Thank you so much.
Thanks, Ibi. Yes, oranges are great to solve constipation. I so wish my youngest grandson (age 4,5) would eat more fruits like that. He has a lot of problems with constipation but already has a tough mind of his own. If he doesn’t want something we can all plead like crazy, but he won’t give in. 🙂
A very interesting article on energy boosting foods. My go to has always been Green Tea. I can testify to the high antioxidants in it and the impact it has on the brain. I have used it for many years and it has never let me down. I ditched anti-depressants and turned to green tea. I have never looked back!
Thanks so much!
That is truly good news, Angy, to replace anti-depressants for green tea. Woot woot. Way to go.
I am so happy for you that something relatively simple gives such a great result. Thanks for sharing!!
I love this article on What is the Best Food for Energy! I eat all these great foods and I always feel great. If I eat junk then honestly I start to feel yucky. Thanks for sharing such great information.
Thanks, Alyse, it’s unbelievable how quickly this can change, isn’t it? I used to love junk food as a kid and ate it at times as an adult as well. But like you I feel jucky on the rare occassions I eat it nowadays. 🙂
Great article. There are a lot of good alternatives to giving one healthy energy. For many, fast food are the cheaper options, which is not good in the long run.
Eat good, feel good!
I am glad you started the article pointing out that it’s not just about what foods give you energy, but also how the ones most of us eat, actually COST us the energy we already have. Nowdays convenience food has become the norm, to the detriment of our bodies. And when energy is down, what do most people do – reach for an energy drink! I stay away from those as they are so bad for your health! I’ve already adding some of these foods to our shopping list – time to supercharge my superfood intake 🙂
All the best,
It’s always nice when someone starts with a compliment. 😉 Thanks, Gareth. Yes, our primal brain, helped by the fast food companies, doesn’t exactly work in our favor. Eating healthy requires both an effort in shopping at the right places and having the right mindset. Glad you are taking the healthy choice. 🙂
Hi Hannie, thank you for this wonderful article. I always have my coffee in the morning, it really gives me a lot of energy. However, it is not like before, it is almost like it not effective enough on me like before, I don’t know why. I am going to add things from your list to see if it will increase my energy boost, I will let you know if there is anything. I am also going to share this with my friends, they are going to like it, very interesting article!
Thanks, Jim, and yes please, share it with whomever you like. 🙂
You could try to drink less coffee for a while and then more again. Chances are high it’ll give you that well known boost then!
Dag Hannie, dag Tom,
Bedankt voor dit leerrijke artikel.
15 van de 17 kennen we en gebruiken we as much as possible !
Ik ken die Goji Berries niet en die Chia seeds ook niet.
Zijn die gemakkelijk te vinden ?
Mieke en Renaud
Hoi Mieke en Renaud,
wat leuk om van jullie te horen. Toen wij nog in Nederland woonden, deden we onze boodschappen bij een biologische supermarkt. Die had Goji bessen en Chia zaad in het assortiment zitten. Ik vermoed dat jullie in België ook zulke winkels hebben. Of anders kleine reformwinkels.
En mocht je niets kunnen vinden: zelfs Amazon heeft biologische bessen en zaad. Al is het natuurlijk leuker om bij een plaatselijke winkel iets te kopen.
Laat eens horen of het is gelukt?
Liefs en groetjes,
Hannie en Tom
Hi Mieke and Renaud,
how nice to hear from you. When we still lived in the Netherlands, we did our shopping at an organic supermarket. They had Goji berries and Chia seeds in their assortment. I suspect that you also have such shops in Belgium. Or else small health food stores.
And if you can’t find anything, even Amazon has organic berries and seeds. Although it is of course more fun to buy something at a local store.
Let’s hear if it worked?
Love and greetings,
Hannie and Tom