March 11th, 2017 | Updated on April 26th, 2023
At a certain point, excess caffeine intake can be a stressor to the body, causing an increase in hormones such as cortisol. These hormones can trigger fatigue instead of boosting energy. On top of that, many coffee drinks are packed full of added sugars, which cause blood sugar to spike and crash, draining energy.
Each of the foods on this list either naturally has caffeine or is high in energizing nutrients like fiber and B12. Although there’s no way we can really measure if they’re “better” than coffee, they certainly help to keep me energized now that I’m java-free. Read on to find out what they are so you, too, can overcome your coffee addiction. Or, at the very least, be less dependent on the stuff.
Protein from lean meats or fish can act as a slower, longer-lasting energy source.
Along with almonds and hazelnuts, cashews are high in magnesium. Magnesium works to convert sugar to energy via glycolysis while protein helps keep you full.
The high vitamin B content in asparagus supports healthy energy levels by turning carbs into glucose. The low glycemic index of asparagus also means that its energy release is gradual and long lasting—perfect to help you get through the day.
4. Chia Seeds
If you’re looking for a steady flow of energy throughout the day, adding some chia seeds to your smoothie could help. The ratio of protein, fat, and fiber makes it the perfect combination for stable energy release.
Broccoli contains chromium, a mineral that helps regulate blood sugar. To get the energy-boosting benefits, steam your green instead of roasting it. Scorching the veggie can deplete it of its energy-boosting benefits.
Avocados are a source of healthy monounsaturated fats that the body can use for energy, and vitamin B, which naturally increases energy levels.
Sardines are one of the richest sources of vitamin B12, a nutrient essential for helping to convert food into energy. In addition, the protein content can help stabilize blood sugar levels while the omega-3 fatty acids may help to reduce fatigue-inducing inflammation.
8. Brown Rice
Brown is a whole grain. It contains three parts of the grain kernel: the outer, fiber-filled layer called the bran, the nutrient-rich core called the germ, and the starchy middle layer called the endosperm.
The following nutrients are found in whole grains:
- B vitamins, which are involved in many biological functions;
- Folate (folic acid), a B vitamin that helps the body form new cells and can prevent certain birth defects;
- Iron, a mineral that the body uses to carry oxygen in the blood;
- Magnesium, a mineral that is involved in more than 300 biological functions;
- Selenium, a mineral that regulates the thyroid gland.
9. Beef Liver
Beef Liver is a great source of protein, with each 3-ounce serving supply 17 grams of the nutrient. Liver is among the best sources of iron available. 3-ounce portion of beef liver provides 4 milligrams of iron. Just one serving of beef liver will provide half the day’s iron intake requirements for men, and slightly more than one-fifth of the daily iron needs for women. That iron helps your cells generate energy.
Kraut is far more than a hot-dog topping. The fermented cabbage product contains probiotics that help with gut health and improved digestion. And the right balance of gut flora can help combat low energy and sleep issues.
If you’re looking to boost your energy, add some spice to your life. Cardamom—which is found in curries and is the main flavor in chai tea—increases circulation and improves energy.
For a good afternoon refresher, consider including shrimp in your midday meal. Not only are shrimp low in calories (considering you don’t go fried), they also contain 21 percent of the day’s energy-boosting B12 in each 3-ounce serving.
Beets are full of essential everyday nutrients like B vitamins, iron, manganese, copper, magnesium, and potassium. Beets are rich in nitrates, which the body converts to nitric oxide—a compound that relaxes and dilates blood vessels.
Drinking beet juice before exercise seems to prevent fatigue. Beet juice also prevents muscles from exhausting.
For a steady source of morning energy, whip up a scramble—or go over easy or sunny side up. No matter how you prepare them, eggs will provide you with sustained energy. In addition to being rich in protein—serving up about 7 grams a pop—eggs are rich in B vitamins including B1, B2, B6, and B12, which are essential for energy production.
15. Hemp Seeds
Hemp seeds are different from other plant-based protein sources. Unlike other plant-based protein sources, hemp seeds contain all the essential amino acids. This makes it a complete protein. Three tablespoons provide 10 grams of protein. Hemp seeds contain a small amount of complex carbohydrates, which release glucose slowly into the bloodstream. Hemp seeds are packed with fiber, which is great for keeping you nice and full for hours.
Oats boost the production of serotonin to help combat stress and enhance learning and memory function, making them a perfect option before that morning meeting or exam. Just be sure to stay away from flavored instant packets that are full of added sugar.
Researchers say the scent of peppermint increases alertness and decreases fatigue. Sniffing mint also aids weight loss! One study published in the Journal of Neurological and Orthopaedic Medicine found that people who sniffed peppermint every two hours lost an average of 5 pounds a month.
18. Yerba Maté
Mate is a traditional South American beverage drink. It is brewed from the leaves and stems of the yerba mate plant. yerba maté is rich in vitamins, amino acids, and polyphenols. Yerba maté tea contains an average of 78 milligrams of caffeine per 150 milliliters cupTrusted Source. This makes its caffeine content similar to coffee. To get the most benefits from yerba maté tea, prepare the tea with boiling water, then allow it to cool.
Looking for a morning boost? Inhale the scent of cinnamon. The smell of this pantry staple has been shown to reduce fatigue. Sprinkle some into your morning oats for some extra morning oomph or breathe it in by adding a dash to a cup of hot tea.
Because of popcorn’s high fiber content, its low calorie count and its low energy density, popcorn is considered to be a food that can aid in weight loss. For example, popcorn has been shown to make people feel fuller than a similar calorie amount of potato chips.
Popular in traditional Chinese medicine, 1 ounce of raw goji berries contains 250% of the daily requirement for vitamin C. A 3-tablespoon serving of dried goji berries has 13 grams of carbohydrates. goji berries are higher in protein than most foods.
Sometimes it’s best to get back to basics. When you’re feeling weary, check your water intake. Dehydration is one of the leading causes of lackluster energy. When your body doesn’t have enough water to carry out normal, everyday functions, it becomes difficult to maintain homeostasis—which leads to the all-too-common brain fog. Sip H20 for some added pep.
23. Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate is rich in theobromine, a natural stimulant similar to caffeine. Dark chocolate can also stimulate serotonin production, helping to elevate mood, which can provide an added energy lift. Enjoy one ounce as a snack along with a piece of fruit or mix a tablespoon of dark chocolate chips in with a bowl of air-popped popcorn for a sweet, energy-boosting treat.
Sure, this sweet summer fruit is primarily water, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t pack a punch. Believe it or not, it can actually help you stay wide-eyed and bushy tailed. With 6 percent of your daily value of B6 per wedge and minerals like magnesium and potassium, it has naturally energy-boosting properties.
One cup of ready-to-eat chickpeas contains 10 grams of protein and about 10 grams of dietary fiber—which is 40% of the daily minimum target. They are also packed with antioxidants and several other key nutrients.
Lentils are low in sodium and saturated fat, and high in potassium, fiber, folate, and plant chemicals. As much as a third of the calories from lentils come from protein, which makes lentils the third-highest in protein, by weight, of any legume or nut. Like other legumes, lentils are low in a couple of essential amino acids, namely methionine and cysteine.
Quinoa is packed with protein, fiber and various vitamins and minerals. It is also gluten-free. Unlike popular belief, quinoa is not a grain, it is actually a seed. compared to other cereals. People around the world rely upon it for macronutrients. Quinoa has more protein and a greater balance of essential amino acids.