11 Energy-Boosting Foods that Fight Fatigue

Tired of feeling tired? Instead of reaching for candy or coffee, try one of these energy foods to kick your body into high-gear. You’ll stay fueled all day long without the inevitable sugar crash, and be noticeably more alert!

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Tired of feeling tired? Instead of reaching for candy or coffee, try one of these energy foods to kick your body into high-gear. You'll stay fueled all day long without the inevitable sugar crash, and be noticeably more alert! #lowenergy #energyboostingfoods #healthyfoodstotry

There comes a point when enough is enough, and you can’t help but do something drastic.

This is exactly how I felt a year ago when my energy levels plummeted to an all-time low. I’m someone who can’t sustain high-performing tasks for very long anyway, and I need sufficient breaks to regroup and refuel for the next project on my list.

But this wasn’t normal…even for me.

My days melded together like one big haze. My brain couldn’t concentrate. My movements seemed almost robotic at times.

What was wrong? I thought I was getting enough sleep, and I made a point to exercise at least 2-3x per week. I even had a job I loved and wouldn’t trade for the world.

I was, however, eating a lot of sugar.

It’s uncanny how when you realize something, you ironically see blog posts and podcasts and books about it everywhere. Suddenly, I became aware of how much sugar I was consuming from not just obvious foods like desserts and processed snacks, but also in my breakfast cereal, strawberry-flavored yogurt, sandwich bread, and yes, even ketchup!

So I conducted an experiment and said no to sugar for 14 very long days.

It was the most difficult thing I’ve ever done, and every day I wavered between going forward and giving up. I’m so thankful Joseph did this experiment with me, because I might not have lasted very long without him encouraging me to keep going!

What Energy Foods Should You Eat Instead of Sugar?

Because sugar was so prevalent in my diet, my goal was to find energy-boosting foods to replace what I normally ate. Peanut M&M’s just weren’t going to cut it anymore! So I researched which foods provide the most energy, and came up with a list of ones I actually liked eating.

A quick disclaimer: I’m not a nutritionist, so I can’t give you all the scientific details of why these foods are natural sources of energy, but what I do know is that they are the perfect mix of proteins, complex carbs {not refined}, and fiber to keep you fueled throughout the day.

1. Bananas

Bananas are an excellent source for potassium, which lead to low energy levels if you don’t have enough. However, don’t forget they do contain quite a bit of sugar, so bananas might not be a good choice for those who struggle with diabetes.

2. Oatmeal

Oatmeal {the homemade kind, not the sugary instant packets} are high in fiber, which takes longer to digest. Try exchanging cereal for this breakfast food to power you through the entire morning.

3. Chia Seeds

Chia Seeds are the ultimate ratio of all the nutrients I mentioned above, and even though they seem intimidating, they’re really not! I love making these Energy Bites from Chew Out Loud to give me an extra push throughout the afternoon.

FYI: Chia seeds are much cheaper on Amazon—this is the brand I use.

4. Almonds

Almonds contain good fats, magnesium, and B vitamins which help convert food into energy. However, you only want to eat a handful since they are also high in calories.

5. Spinach

Spinach has energy-supporting B-vitamins and is iron dense, which reduces fatigue. I love adding spinach to a salad or eating a spinach and cheese quesadilla for lunch.

6. Greek Yogurt

Greek Yogurt offers two amazing perks–quick energy right off the bat, because your body can process yogurt rather quickly, while the protein from the yogurt sticks around and provides a steady source of energy later on. Add homemade granola on top for some of those oatmeal benefits I mentioned earlier!

7. Broccoli

Broccoli contains high levels of magnesium, potassium, and iron. Not having enough of these nutrients can lead to low energy levels, so when you’re wondering what side to have for dinner, add broccoli to the menu! Don’t love broccoli? I didn’t either, until I met this broccoli salad with cheese!

8. Avocados

Avocados are another healthy fat, and contain even more potassium than bananas. My favorite way to add avocados to my diet is through this Skinny Chocolate Peanut Butter Smoothie.

9. Eggs

Eggs are packed with protein, which helps boost mental alertness. They also contain the nutrient zinc, which converts food into energy.

10. Chicken

Chicken is another food containing plenty of protein and keeps me both full and energized throughout the day. The B-vitamins also help banish fatigue. Try my Chicken Veggie Stir-Fry for the ultimate Chicken and Broccoli energy combo!

11. Water

Although not technically a food, water is essential to your health! Staying hydrated helps you to stay alert. Dips in water levels slow down your metabolism, so if you are tired or exhausted, it could be because you’re not drinking enough water.

Need creative ideas to incorporate more water into your diet? Here are five fun ways.

What Two Weeks without Sugar Taught Me

Much to my surprise, I felt a noticeable boost in energy levels after just a few days when the initial sugar cravings subsided and I ate more of these nourishing foods.

Which makes sense.

The more I read about how food affects the way our body functions, the more I’m convinced we shouldn’t ignore the connection!

Now whenever my body feels extra sluggish, I know the food I’ve consumed earlier that day is partly to blame. Although I still can’t give up dessert entirely, {I’m not disciplined enough for that!}, I make it a point to rely more on the foods mentioned above to supply extra energy, rather than reaching for a quick sugar fix like I did before.

The next time you feel yourself fading, reach for one of these energy-boosting foods for a quick pick-me-up instead of coffee or candy. When you make smarter choices about how you fuel your body, you’ll stay alert, get more done, and feel AMAZING when you tackle that to-do list!

What favorite food gives you high energy throughout the day?

Disclosure: Some of the links in the post above are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Rest assured, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. Read my full disclosure policy here.

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  1. I have recently found the same thing. Now, when I backslide occasionally, any sweetish food is too sweet. I was a chocoholic but now I eat a couple of squares of 70% cocoa chocolate either in the afternoon or evening (note that this is an either/or thing) and this satisfies me fine. I was constantly suffering from severe fatigue, breathlessness and pain but the change in my diet has caused such a great improvement. A friend of mine often says that sugar is toxic. I think she is right.

  2. I’m soooooo guilty of turning to sugar for a “quick energy boost” that inevitably leaves me feeling worse off when I started after the crash. Thanks for a reminder of several foods I actually love and some new ones I need to work into my diet more. I’m hoping to make September a month of better physical health for me, so this is very timely!

  3. Sugar-free in our home. I find a huge salad (heavy on the greens with just a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil) gives me energy. I love growing our own greens and getting to eat them literally a minute or two after harvesting them. Raw Fit is a protein powder that makes me zoom too. I found the most economical way to get it is to subscribe on Amazon. The taste isn’t great (it’s not terrible either) but it gets me over that late afternoon slump when I really, really want a candy bar.

    We’ve been sugar free for years. Two interesting side effects – dental cavities and gum disease just stopped and neither DH nor I have had a cold in years. We just stopped getting sick.

    1. That’s really awesome that you’ve been able to be sugar free for 2 years! Joseph and I tried it for just under a month. He thinks it just about killed him. 🙂

  4. My diet is rich in 6 out of the 10 foods you presented 🙂 I eat at least 1 banana a day, cook broccoli and spinach almost weekly, I prefer chicken when it comes to meat and I eat eggs and yogurt almost on a daily basis. I still drink the occasional soda but I try to drink as much water as possible instead of sugary drinks.

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