9 Foods That Give You Energy Naturally

Reviewed by: Dr. Pejman Taghavi

Holding a jar of nuts

 If you’re looking for a natural way to increase your energy level throughout the day, look no further than what you’ve got stocked in your kitchen. People often reach for a quick bite like pastries and popsicles to fuel your body, but that doesn’t produce the same quality of energy as homemade banana oatmeal.

So, if pastries aren’t going to get the job done–what foods give you energy?

A combination of complex carbohydrates, healthy fats, and protein-based foods is the powerhouse combo that’ll give you the energy you crave.

In this guide, we walk you through nine different foods you can add to your pantry to stay energized and fueled throughout the day.

Eating for Energy: 9 Items to Add to Your Plate

When many people think of energy for the body, they normally think of caffeinated drinks. While caffeine provides energy, it comes with negative effects such as a caffeine crash or fatigue. If you are wondering, why do energy drinks make me tired, it might be because you aren’t absorbing enough energy in your diet.

When it comes to food that  gives you good energy, it’s important to find a healthy balance of all three macronutrients—proteins, fats, and carbohydrates—since they’re the fuel that our body converts into energy.

A combination of these three food groups will keep your body fueled for longer than if you were to rely too heavily on one over the others. Below are nine healthy food options that will naturally boost your energy levels, broken down by the macronutrient category they fall in. That way, you can find a comfortable balance between all three while enjoying some yummy, energy-boosting food. 

Fats

Oftentimes, when people think of fat, they assume it’s off limits. While consuming too many unhealthy fats such as butter, animal fat, and trans fat can be harmful, healthy fats do exist.

In fact, incorporating healthy fats in your diet is crucial. They help your body absorb vitamins, provide us with fatty acids that we can’t make on our own, and are high in energy.1

Your body can’t process fats as quickly as it processes carbohydrates, so consuming a healthy fat every day is an excellent way to provide yourself with  lasting energy . Here are a few healthy fats you can easily add to your diet:

#1 Avocado

Avocado toast is a great snack option, especially considering the nutrient value. In addition to their satisfying buttery taste and creamy consistency, this healthy food is packed with close to 20 vitamins and minerals, including:2

  • Potassium
  • Folate
  • Vitamin B6
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin E

Not only are they packed with vitamins and minerals, they’re also filled with healthy fats and fiber. This can help maintain your energy levels and keep you full for a longer period of time.

Because they’re high in calories, the recommended serving size is ⅓ of an avocado per day. If you’re interested in introducing avocado into your diet, here are some quick and easy ways to incorporate them:

  • Make your own fresh guacamole.
  • Cut an avocado into thin slices and add them to your whole-grain toast.
  • Chop up a serving of avocado into small pieces and put them on top of your tofu scramble or include them in a breakfast burrito.
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#2 Nuts

From almonds and cashews to peanuts and hazelnuts, there are certainly plenty of nuts to go around—and they’re a fantastic source of lasting energy. Not only do they contain a rich mix of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates which help keep you full, they’re also a wonderful source of vitamins and minerals, such as:3

  • Magnesium
  • Calcium
  • Phosphorus

Because of their high-fat content, try to stick to the recommended serving size of ¼ cup per day. It may not sound like much, but rest assured—they fill you up quickly. Then you’ll be ready to conquer the rest of your day.

#3 Chia Seeds

Chia seeds are a simple way to add healthy fats to your daily food intake. With 11 grams of fat4 per ounce, you can sprinkle them on your oatmeal or make a chia seed parfait with your favorite plant-based yogurt for a snack that keeps you full and energized.

In addition, chia seeds are full of nutrients your body will love, including:

  • Fiber — Fiber can lower cholesterol and is excellent for digestion.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids — These fatty acids are heart-healthy and can lower your blood pressure.

Protein

Does protein give you energy? The answer is yes. This food group is an essential macronutrient that helps to fuel your body as well as repair and build tissue. Whether you’re trying to build muscle to your physique or you’re simply looking for energy-boosting foods, here are a few protein-packed foods you can easily add to your diet:

#4 Tofu

Made from soybean curds and loved by many, tofu is taking the world by storm—vegetarians and meat eaters alike appreciate its versatility. With its ability to complement a variety of  tastes and textures, it’s easy to see why.

Tofu contains 10 grams of protein in every half-cup serving, along with many nutrients, including:5

  • Calcium
  • Vitamin A
  • Iron
  • Magnesium
  • Copper

If you’re looking for ways to include tofu in your routine, try one of the following ideas:

  • Blend it in with smoothie ingredients to create a velvety smooth shake.
  • Add cubes to your favorite soup! From ramen to miso, it adds a soft texture to your  liquid base.
  • Throw on some BBQ sauce and grill some cubes with a mix of veggies. Be sure to choose the extra firm tofu so that it keeps its firm consistency.

#5 Beans and Legumes

Beans and legumes are prime sources of protein, especially for those following a plant-based diet. They’re also wonderfully fibrous, which may be why you heard the tune, “beans, beans, the musical fruit,” when you were younger.

The reason they make such powerful fuel for your body is because they’re also rich in magnesium,6 which help your cells sustain energy for longer periods of time.

Here is a list of a few commonly used beans, and the amount of protein you can expect from a one-cup serving:7

  • Black beans – 15 grams
  • Lentils – 18 grams
  • Chickpeas – 15 grams
  • Edamame – 19 grams

#6 Protein Powder

If you’re on the go and looking for a fast (and tasty) source of protein, look no further than your nearest container of plant-based protein powder. This powder can be made from a combination of legumes, seeds, or grains that contain protein—approximately 20 grams per serving.8

You can mix your choice of flavored protein powder with water or your favorite plant-based milk to create a satisfying on-the-go snack. If time permits, you can even blend it with some frozen fruit to make a more nutrient-dense smoothie.

Although every brand of protein powder has different nutrients, you can expect many to contain nutrients such as:9

  • Fiber
  • Folate
  • Vitamin B12
  • Iron
  • Calcium

Carbohydrates

Your body’s ideal source of energy is carbohydrates because they contain glucose, a sugar that’s easily absorbed and used as fuel. However, not all carbohydrates are created equal.

The two types of carbohydrates are:

  • Simple carbohydrates – Simple carbs include foods made with sugar or corn syrup. Your body breaks down these carbs more quickly, and they don’t contain as many vitamins and minerals as complex carbs. Soda, baked goods, and fruit juice concentrate are all examples of simple carbs.
  • Complex carbohydrates – Complex carbs are more nutrient-dense and provide you with sustained energy because they take longer to break down. Examples include fiber-rich fruits ,veggies, and whole grains.

These carbohydrate-heavy foods can help keep you energized:

#7 Oats

Oats are a whole-grain carbohydrate, which means they’ll take longer for your body to digest than, say, that pastry sitting on your kitchen counter. Oats are also a great source of vitamins that help your body metabolize energy, like:10

  • Niacin
  • Thiamin
  • Folate

Oats are another versatile food option. Whether you prefer them steaming hot with a dash of cinnamon or want a hassle-free pick-me-up to start your day, there are recipes for every taste preference. Here are a couple ideas to get you started:

  • Energy balls – Full of wholesome ingredients, there are a variety of recipes you can try, and energy balls will last for days in the fridge, ready to eat whenever you’re in need of a quick fix.
  • Overnight oats – Prepare your ingredients in the evening, leave them in the refrigerator overnight, and have cold, creamy oatmeal ready to eat when you wake up. The delicious recipes range from cherry pie to peanut butter chocolate, so you can’t go wrong with overnight oats.

#8 Banana

If you’re running out the door and need a quick, easy snack, what better choice than a banana? The peel makes the best natural wrapper and keeps the banana intact for you until you’re ready for it, whether you’re in the car, at the office, or rushing to your terminal at the airport.

Not only are they snacks that promote healthy eating, but they’re a superb energy source. They contain natural sugar that your body happily converts into fuel, while the banana’s fiber content slows down the absorption of the sugar so that you feel energized for longer.3 

In addition to fiber, bananas also contain beneficial vitamins:

  • Potassium
  • Vitamin B
  • Vitamin C 

#9 Quinoa

With seeds ranging in color from red to black to yellow, quinoa is known as one of the world’s superfoods—and for good reason. With twice as much fiber as other grains and eight grams of protein in a one-cup serving,11 it’s a smart way to fuel up with sustained energy for hours.

It provides helpful nutrients for your body, such as:

  • Iron
  • Lysine
  • Magnesium
  • Riboflavin
  • Manganese

Capitalize on Natural Energy with Cymbiotika

If you’re looking for sustained energy, there are plenty of easily accessible foods you can add to your pantry. Whether you prefer avocado or tofu, it’s easy to stock up and keep your body energized and satisfied all day long.

For an extra dose of natural energy, Cymbiotika offers liquid energy supplements to help you seize (and conquer) the day. From Glutathione, which contains riboflavin that may help metabolize food for increased energy to Vitamin B12 + B6, whose vitamins could help you sustain your energy levels all day long, you can find your perfect blend of natural energy with Cymbiotika.


Sources:

  1. NHS. Fat: The Facts. https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/eat-well/food-types/different-fats-nutrition/
  2. Web MD. Everything You Need to Know About Avocados. https://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/all-about-avocados
  3. Medical News Today. The 28 Best Energy-Boosting Food and Drinks. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/323947#animal-products
  4. USDA. Chia Seeds. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/1100612/nutrients
  5. Healthline. What Is Tofu, and Is It Healthy? https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/what-is-tofu#nutrition
  6. Web MD. The Best (and Worst) Foods to Boost Your Energy. https://www.webmd.com/diet/ss/slideshow-food-energy-boost
  7. Well + Good. 7 High-Protein Plant Foods With More Protein Than Meat. https://www.wellandgood.com/high-protein-plant-foods/
  8. Bon Appetit. What Is the Best Vegan Protein Powder, and by “Best,” I Mean Tastiest? https://www.bonappetit.com/story/best-vegan-protein-powder 
  9. KHNI. Nutritional Benefits of Plant Proteins Taking Root with Consumers. https://khni.kerry.com/news/blog/nutritional-benefits-of-plant-proteins-taking-root-with-consumers/
  10. Men’s Journal. 10 Healthy Foods That Give You Energy. https://www.mensjournal.com/food-drink/10-healthy-foods-give-you-energy/2-yogurt/
  11. Harvard. Quinoa. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/food-features/quinoa/
  12. Medical News Today. The 28 Best Energy-Boosting Food and Drinks. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/323947
Reviewed by: Dr. Pejman Taghavi Medical Director, Hollywood Healthcare Clinical Instructor, Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center

Dr. Pejman Taghavi is a specialist in the field of Diagnostic and Interventional Abdominal and Musculoskeletal Radiology. As medical director of Hollywood Healthcare and faculty at UCLA Medical Center, Dr. Taghavi offers extensive expertise in the field of radiology, with publications in the Society of Skeletal Radiology and Chicago Radiological Society, among others. Dr. Taghavi is passionate about the healing of muscles and joints without relying on oral pain medications. Dr. Taghavi has experience in working with high-level athletes from the LA Lakers, LA Dodgers, and UCLA Bruins.


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