Perk Up with Energy Producing Foods

Happy smiling  group of jumping  peopleYou feel like you can’t win—whether you get six hours of sleep or eight, you sip down your morning caffeine fix only to find yourself struggling to keep your eyes open and your brain in operation mode before the morning ever really starts. The problem may not be in the amount of sleep you’re getting, but rather in the food you’re putting into your body. Just as there are many foods that can bring your day to a grinding halt, there are a variety of options that can jump-start your day—and no, caffeine is not on the list.

Before diving into specific energy-generating foods, there are some basic diet-related factors that may help guide you throughout the day. If you begin to feel the weight of your eyelids or your head nodding, it may be because you’re dehydrated, so skip the coffee and grab a glass of water. In fact, that cup of Joe could be the problem—drinking too much caffeine can actually make you feel more tired in the long run, so limit your intake to about one cup a day.

Also, a rule of thumb: more protein and fewer carbs is always better.  Your body needs protein to keep organs functioning and energy levels up, while eating too many carbs can slow you down. But don’t eliminate carbs completely—they are what keep your blood sugar levels balanced throughout the day, which in turn makes you feel awake.

Be sure you’re eating the right amount of healthy carbs. It’s also key to listen to your body—eat when you’re hungry. If you keep pushing lunch back until you’re about to faint, your blood sugar levels will plummet and so will your energy.

Overall, a healthy and balanced diet with fresh, minimally processed foods will give you drastically more energy than a diet of mostly processed food. Specifically, adding the following eight foods to your diet will rev up your energy. (NOTE: Eating the certified organic versions of these foods will increase their energy-boosting power even more.)

1. Lean Protein (ideally free-ranged)

Lean protein contains tyrosine, an amino acid that helps your brain produce the chemicals norepinephrine and dopamine, which improve your mental function. Chicken, turkey, pork tenderloin, eggs, shellfish and sardines(not one of my favorites) also contain tyrosine.

A variety of legumes (black beans, split peas, chick peas, canary, red, and black eyed peas)

A variety of legumes (black beans, split peas, chick peas, canary, red, and black eyed peas)

2. Black Beans

Complex carbohydrates like those in black beans and other legumes help keep your blood sugar levels balanced throughout the day, providing a steady, slow-burning source of energy to make you feel awake. Plus, black beans are a rich source of iron—an integral part of hemoglobin—which transports oxygen in the body.


3. Seaweed

Seaweeds like kelp, wakame, arame and dulse can be found in Asian grocery stores and health food stores. It can be eaten dried, straight out of the bag, or added to soups, salads and vegetables. Seaweed contains the broadest range of minerals of any food—the same minerals found in the ocean and in human blood. It also contains pantothenic acid and riboflavin—two B-vitamins needed for your body to produce energy.

4. Almonds

These tasty nuts are rich in manganese and copper, both of which are essential cofactors of an enzyme called superoxide dismutase. This enzyme helps keep energy flowing by inhibiting free radicals inside cells’ mitochondria (the energy-producing area of cells). Plus, they also contain riboflavin, another important component of energy production.

5. Cantaloupe

This melon is an exceptional energy food because of its combination of vitamin B6, dietary fiber, folate, and niacin (vitamin B3). The B vitamins (necessary for the body to process sugars and carbs) combined with fiber (which helps the sugars be distributed gradually) support energy production by keeping blood sugar levels stable.  When it is in season I eat slices of this delicious melon before races.

6. Kiwi

This tiny fruit often gets overlooked in favor of the more common apple or orange, but it packs a powerful punch. With more vitamin C than an equal amount of orange, it’s a potent energy-boosting food. When vitamin C levels are depleted, people often feel tired. Other foods rich in vitamin C include raw red or green pepper, broccoli, strawberries and Brussels sprouts.


7. Oatmeal

This morning favorite is loaded with soluble fiber, a key to slowing down carbohydrate absorption and keeping blood sugar levels steady.


8. Water

We know, it’s not really a food, but it’s so important that we decided to include it anyway. Water is necessary for your body to produce energy, including digesting, absorbing and transporting nutrients. If plain water doesn’t appeal to you, try spicing it up with a squeeze of lemon, lime or other citrus.

Reaching for healthier choices in general will boost your energy, these are just a few of the many options you have.  So, pack a few sliced kiwis to take with you to work, school, or the park.

Thanks for reading.


About sherianne

For those of you who don’t know me, my name is SheriAnne Nelson and I am happily married to my husband Mike. I’m a mother of three beautiful children ages 9, almost 6, and 3, am a passionate fitness professional, and a Star Diamond Level fitness coach within the Team Beachbody program in Scottsdale, Arizona.