One of the best ways to live a healthy lifestyle and to maintain a healthy weight is to eat a variety of foods that sustain your energy levels throughout the day to reduce cravings and to keep your blood sugar levels balanced.
Complex carbohydrates release glucose into the blood stream gradually, providing the body with a steady supply of energy, compared to refined carbohydrates (white bread, pasta and rice). They also provide a good source of fibre and may even reduce the risk of some cancers. Therefore, a diet rich in foods such as wholegrains, oats, pulses, nuts and seeds will help you stay full of energy throughout the day.
B vitamins play a role in converting your food into available energy that the body can use. Making sure you reach your recommended daily amount will ensure your body has a reliable source of energy available. Avoid deficiencies by eating a diet rich in whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, wholegrains, meat and fish.
The following list of foods have been chosen for their ability to provide the body with energy – some providing slow-releasing energy from complex carbohydrates, others containing a range of important vitamins and minerals involved in cellular energy production.
- Oats – Having porridge for breakfast is a great way to keep you full until lunch time, as oats supply slow-releasing energy from low GI complex carbohydrates as well as being a high source of B-vitamins which are vital to convert food in to energy.
- Eggs – Eggs provide complete protein (protein containing all essential amino acids) and vitamins such as thiamine, riboflavin, folate, B6 and B12 which are all needed for the body to produce energy.
- Avocados – Provide more protein than most fruits making them a great source of sustained energy.
- Sweet potato – A complex carbohydrate rich in Vitamin C, beta carotene, magnesium and iron, which are all essential energy nutrients.
- Pumpkin Seeds – An excellent source of protein, healthy fats and minerals (manganese, magnesium, phosphorus and zinc) involved in energy production.
- Spinach – High in iron, magnesium, and potassium for energy production. Iron transports oxygen needed for energy production.
- Almonds – Replenish energy stores due to their protein, magnesium and fiber content.
- Oily fish – Such as salmon, sardines and mackerel are an excellent source of complete protein, B vitamins, essential fats and vitamin D. A lack of vitamin D can cause lack of energy, muscle fatigue and low mood.
- Edamame beans – Rich in the essential trace mineral molybdenum, shown to enhance concentration and balancing out blood sugar levels. Also high in Copper and phosphorous, which are involved in converting food into energy and releasing it into cells for use.
- Natural or Greek yoghurt – Contain live bacteria with many health benefits including regulating the immune system, improving digestion so that more energy-giving nutrients are absorbed.
A study from Cambridge University (2001) found that we should be reaching for protein snacks rather than sugary snacks to combat the afternoon energy dip. They found that glucose (sugar) blocks certain neurons that help you feel awake, whereas, the amino acids in protein prevents that from happening. Protein also helps you feel full for longer, reducing the need to snack throughout the afternoon and balancing blood sugar levels.
Healthy energy snacks:
- Vegetable sticks (carrots, celery, red pepper, cucumber) and hummus
- Rice/corn cakes and hummus
- Banana/apple with nut butter (peanut, almond, cashew) – Eating fruit with a protein, such as, nut butter reduces the energy crash from the natural sugars in fruit.
- Hard-boiled egg
- Green smoothie including spinach, nut butter, seeds etc.
- Protein shake (check the sugar content first)
- 6 brazil nuts
- Handful of almonds/mixed nuts
- Dark chocolate is a natural energy booster that contains caffeine and will increase your feel good endorphins.
High energy shop bought options:
- Bounce Balls
- Delicious Ella Energy Balls
- The Protein Ball Co.
- Trail mix
- Rice cakes with dark chocolate
- Green tea (contains a small amount of caffeine for an energy boost)
- Hummus/Lentil Crisps
A simple and fast way to boost energy levels is to make sure that you are drinking enough water (approximately 2 litres per day). Even mild dehydration of 1-2% can causes physical and mental energy levels to drop and the loss of concentration.
Eating breakfast everyday can reduce cravings later on and encourage healthier food choices for subsequent snacks and meals. See our blog on ‘Why should I eat breakfast everyday’ for more information on healthy breakfast choices.
Davies M (2016) Experts Reveal the 8 Best Foods to Boost Energy. Available at:
Dr Murray M et al (2006). Healing Foods. Atria Books. Great Britain.
Fisher R (2014) How to Eat More Energy. Available at: https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/how-eat-more-energy-0
NHS (2018) Eat Well. Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/eat-well/#beans-pulses-fish-eggs-meat-and-other-proteins
Shurvell J (2017) The Best Protein and Energy Snacks. Available at: https://www.forbes.com/sites/joanneshurvell/2017/05/30/the-best-protein-and-energy-snacks-for-2017/#3333db7bf053
Whitebread D (2018) Top Foods High in Energy. Available at: https://www.myfooddata.com/articles/foods-high-in-energy.php