If you’re looking for more energy (who isn’t?), it’s a great idea to look to your diet, even if you’re an avid coffee drinker. You’ll find it easy to perk up with these whole foods and recipes, rich in a variety of energy-boosting nutrients to give you a lift — naturally.
Bananas contain complex carbohydrates for a steady blood sugar rise, as well as a range of B-vitamins for increased energy. Accompanied with a morning coffee or not, bananas should be part of your breakfast to keep you buzzing all day long. Try them in this rich yet healthy mason jar sipper.
Low iron levels are a recipe for fatigue, no matter how much coffee you consume. Dark leafy greens such as spinach are packed with plant-based iron. Pair with a source of vitamin C, like lemon water, to increase absorption. This Popeye-approved pasta is the perfect vehicle to introduce cooked spinach into your diet.
Beans and Legumes
Slow-digesting carbohydrates found in beans and legumes translate to sustained energy levels all day long. They’re also rich in iron and B-vitamins to help fight fatigue. Introduce them to your lunch routine with a flavourful, make-ahead lentil salad.
You read that right: chocolate! Theobromine compounds in chocolate are what gives it its energizing qualities. Reach for a chocolate with at least 70% cocoa (or choose unsweetened cocoa powder) for the lowest sugar content and greatest energy-boosting effects. Try chocolate for breakfast this week with this simple granola.
If you’re finding yourself crashing and unable to keep your eyes open during the day, it may be time to evaluate your sleep. A solid sleep can do wonders for your energy levels, but can be a challenge to achieve some days. Cherries are a natural source of melatonin, helping you hit the hay at an appropriate hour, and keep you in a dreamy bliss for a solid eight hours. Enjoy cherries in a light dinner and get ready to relax.
Of all the do-it-all superfoods out there, yogurt is having a shining moment. A source of filling protein and energy-boosting minerals, yogurt (preferably plain, unsweetened) makes for a creamy, caffeine-free way to add a little zip to both sweet and savory meals. It’s also home to probiotics, which help produce B-vitamins in the gut needed for energy production. Take this breakfast favourite beyond granola with a decadent yet healthy dip.
Host to heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids and an impressive protein quotient, salmon keeps you fuller for longer, stabilizing energy levels throughout the day. Keep unwanted mid-afternoon lulls away with this stunning packable salad.
From brown rice to millet to whole wheat to quinoa, whole grains will keep that pep in your step throughout the day thanks to B-vitamins and slow-releasing complex carbohydrates. Showcase superfood whole grain quinoa as the main event in this stuffed veggie supper.
Being dehydrated can cause serious fatigue. Make sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day and choose foods with high water content. Crunchy cucumbers do the trick nicely, whether used as a dipper or enjoyed in this tropical-inspired salad.
Containing a special type of fat, medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), coconut oil is popular in the healthy cooking community for both its great taste and energy-stabilizing properties. Use in place of butter on toast, to sauté vegetables or play around with it in better-for-you baked goods.
Feeling sluggish? You may want to reach for a pickle. Naturally fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi, pickles, miso and yogurt are a source of tummy-friendly probiotics. Probiotics keep your immune system in top form, produce boosting B-vitamins and helping you absorb important energy-producing vitamins and minerals.
Slow-digesting complex carbohydrates in sweet potatoes keep hunger at bay, stabilize blood sugar and won’t deliver the same crash caffeine is known for. Sweet potatoes are also a great source of potassium, making them a perfect post-exercise recovery food.
This springtime treat is full of the vitamins that convert carbohydrates to usable energy. It plays well in any savoury meal, from breakfast to dinner. Start picnic season early with a lemony asparagus pasta salad.
Get the recipe for Anna Olson’s Asparagus, Lemon and Chèvre Pasta Salad
Allison Day is a cookbook author, nutritionist (RHN) and the creator of the award-winning food blog Yummy Beet.