The 7 Best Foods for Energy

Energetic people

Adequate energy is directly related to adequate nutrition and adequate rest. If your energy levels are low, don’t reach for an energy drink, the best approach is to start with your diet. Some of the most basic and readily available foods provide nutrients that are full of high quality, sustainable energy. Some of these foods can give an immediate energy surge while others bestow a sustained, long-term energy increase. In addition to energy, the following seven foods offer incredible health benefits!

1. Beets and Beet Juice

Beets are an excellent source of folate, manganese, and vitamin C. They also contain phytonutrients called betalains which possess antioxidant properties that can help detoxify the body. And, especially for athletes, they have even been found to provide incredible energy support. A study evaluating the effect of beetroot juice supplementation reported increases in stamina and energy by 15% during severe-intensity exercise. [1]

2. Quinoa

This gluten-free grain from the Andes contains more protein, fatty acids and antioxidants than other grains. Quinoa is rich in the amino acids lysine, methionine and cysteine, and also an excellent source of folate, magnesium and manganese. Its unique blend of carbohydrates, proteins and phytonutrients make it a highly nutritious and ideal food for energy support. [2]

3. Nuts

Nuts are a great source of nutrition and the nuts you want to specifically look for are walnuts, almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamias, pecans, and pistachios. In addition to providing high quality protein, they also contain carotenoids, phenolic acids, phytosterols and flavonoids. [3] These highly bioavailable nutrients promote physical and mental well-being, helping the body sustain higher energy levels.

4. Eggs

Protein dense and packed with fatty acids needed for proper brain function, eggs also contain essential vitamins and minerals. Biotin, a necessary nutrient for energy metabolism, occurs naturally in raw egg yolks. (Once you cook it, it will break down, so you want to eat poached or over-easy to get the best biotin content.) A 2010 study found that men who ate eggs for breakfast enjoyed more consistent and higher energy levels than those consuming a breakfast based on carbs. [4] Remember to look for certified organic, cage-free eggs to ensure you get the most nutrition and fewest toxins.

5. Spinach

Loaded with vitamins A, C, and K and minerals such as calcium, potassium, and iron, spinach rightly deserves its place among the highly nutritious and potent superfoods. It also features magnesium. This element has been acknowledged as contributing to over 300 metabolic functions, including production and storage of cellular energy. [5] Spinach provides magnesium in a highly bioavailable form for both short-term and long-term benefits.

6. Coffee

Everyone knows the caffeine in coffee can give a quick energy boost. But while it can stimulate mental alertness, coffee is also packed with antioxidants. Studies have also found that coffee drinkers enjoy more long-term energy. Plus, coffee drinkers have been found to enjoy better moods and overall better health coming from its protective effects against degeneration. [6] [7]

7. Chocolate

To get the health benefits of chocolate avoid the candy bar and super sweet chocolates in favor of dark chocolates. Studies have found the flavonoids with antioxidant agents in cocoa support blood flow and brain function. [8] This helps with mood support and balanced energy levels.

Start with these seven foods when you want to increase your energy levels. You will feel better and more energized, and enjoy the added health benefits they provide! Got a favorite that I missed? Please leave a comment below and share!

- Dr. Edward F. Group III, DC, ND, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM

References:

  1. Lansley KE, Winyard PG, Fulford J, Vanhatalo A, Bailey SJ, Blackwell JR, DiMenna FJ, Gilchrist M, Benjamin N, Jones AM. Dietary nitrate supplementation reduces the O2 cost of walking and running: a placebo-controlled study. J Appl Physiol. 2011 Mar;110(3):591-600. doi: 10.1152/japplphysiol.01070.2010. Epub 2010 Nov 11.
  2. Vega-Gálvez A, Miranda M, Vergara J, Uribe E, Puente L, Martínez EA. Nutrition facts and functional potential of quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa willd.), an ancient Andean grain: a review. J Sci Food Agric. 2010 Dec;90(15):2541-7. doi: 10.1002/jsfa.4158.
  3. Bolling BW, Chen CY, McKay DL, Blumberg JB. Tree nut phytochemicals: composition, antioxidant capacity, bioactivity, impact factors. A systematic review of almonds, Brazils, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamias, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios and walnuts. Nutr Res Rev. 2011 Dec;24(2):244-75. doi: 10.1017/S095442241100014X. Epub 2011 Dec 12.
  4. Ratliff J, Leite JO, de Ogburn R, Puglisi MJ, VanHeest J, Fernandez ML. Consuming eggs for breakfast influences plasma glucose and ghrelin, while reducing energy intake during the next 24 hours in adult men. Nutr Res. 2010 Feb;30(2):96-103. doi: 10.1016/j.nutres.2010.01.002.
  5. Volpe SL. Magnesium in disease prevention and overall health. Adv Nutr. 2013 May 1;4(3):378S-83S. doi: 10.3945/an.112.003483.
  6. Tuomilehto J. [Coffee and health]. Duodecim. 2013;129(13):1398-405.
  7. Hermansen K, Krogholm KS, Bech BH, Dragsted LO, Hyldstrup L, Jørgensen K, Larsen ML, Tjønneland AM. [Coffee can protect against disease]. Ugeskr Laeger. 2012 Sep 24;174(39):2293-7.
  8. Sokolov AN, Pavlova MA, Klosterhalfen S, Enck P. Chocolate and the brain: Neurobiological impact of cocoa flavanols on cognition and behavior. Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2013 Jun 26. pii: S0149-7634(13)00168-1. doi: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2013.06.013.

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  • Mick

    Food energy has always been measured in Calories. I see on this list of seven foods, spinach, eggs, and coffee. Spinach and eggs don’t provide enough energy to fuel even their own digestion, while coffee provides no calories at all. Yes, they do supply certain nutrients, but a person shall have to consume some real calories for the energy you write about. Many enjoy complex carbohydrates like starchy vegetables or whole grains like oats for sustained and pleasant calorie/energy release.

  • doug_w

    Mmmmm, coffee!

  • ghc_health

    Thanks for weighing in Mick, you bring up some good points. While I wouldn’t advise relying on a pound of spinach to carry you throughout the day, it is worth adding spinach to a fruit smoothie or using it as a base for a salad. You’re right that energy is based on calories, but it’s important to carry that only to a point as some folks may just say, “well then ten candy bars has a lot of calories, that’s all the food I need, right?”
    There isn’t any one food pellet that’s going to do it all for you, but a diet that consists of whole, real, and preferably raw foods, will do a lot. Please keep reading!
    -Dr. Edward Group

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