I’m a girl who needs her energy to get me through a busy day on my feet, so I turn to clean foods for energy that also have added benefits. Food can either fuel us or slow us down. The key is choosing the right foods to fuel your body and leaving out the rest. When your energy levels start to soar from clean, energizing foods, you’ll never look back. So ladies, please, leave the Red Bull at home and rely on nature for the best energy you can get! Here are my favorite foods for energy, which also happen to be quite delish and affordable without all the nasty caffeine and chemicals.
1. Leafy Greens
I know you’re probably wondering how leafy greens are one of the best foods for energy. I mean, aren’t they just salad? No, hun! Leafy greens are a top energy food for many reasons, so let’s get started! Spinach, kale, Swiss chard, romaine, and arugula are a few of my favorites for the ultimate energy source and highest nutrient density. These greens are rich in iron, plant protein, B vitamins, Vitamin E, Vitamin A and fiber. They are also one of the best sources of chlorophyll in common foods found in your produce department. Leafy greens are rich blood-building nutrients, which energize you and keep your body healthy. An inflamed body is never an energized body and leafy greens keep acid out of your blood and aid in preventing inflammation. Leafy greens also stabilize your blood sugar levels due to high levels of the nutrient chromium, which help to keep you from getting weak from blood sugar crashes. Choose organic varieties that are rich in deep green color and try them in everything! You’ll never look back once you experience their miraculous powers.
2. Chia Seeds
I love me some chia seeds! Chia seeds are like little energy bombs! They have 10 times the antioxidants as blueberries and more fiber than wheat bran. They are very low-GI, so they stabilize your blood sugar, and are a complete source of protein. You only need a little bit of chia to go a long way in energy levels due to their ability to soak up water and grow 10-15 times their size. This keeps you hydrated, which is key to great energy levels. Chia seeds are also high in iron, B vitamins and Omega 3 fatty acids. They are an affordable superfood that everyone should add to their diet. They’re also tasteless so you don’t have to worry about them affecting the flavors in your foods.
3. Hemp Seeds
Another favorite energizing seed I love are hemp seeds. Hemp seeds are seriously a powerful food, ladies! They are full of all essential amino acids, so they are rich in protein. They are also alkaline, so they prevent inflammation. Hemp seeds are high in fiber, B vitamins, magnesium, iron and they are delicious! Hemp seeds offer a sweet yet nutty taste that is great in salads, on top of cereal like oatmeal, or in smoothies. Hemp seeds are also great to add to hummus, yogurt and basically whatever else you want. Eat them raw so their healthy Omega fats aren't damaged. All of the nutrients in hemp seeds help to give you energy without weighing you down.
4. Wild Alaskan Salmon
This fish is one of my top energizing foods and a great source of healthy fats and lean protein. Be sure to only buy wild Alaskan salmon to avoid toxic pollutants, mercury and antibiotics added to wild Atlantic fish, and farmed salmon. Salmon is high in B vitamins, iron, magnesium and great for balancing your hormones and your mood. It is one of the best animal proteins you can consume as well.
Bananas are nature’s perfect energy food, all wrapped up in one convenient little package. Bananas are rich in B vitamins, potassium, fiber, are low in calories and actually contain less sugar than many other fruits per serving. Though they are thought of as a fruit to avoid for weight loss, they are actually great for weight loss, but more so your energy. They make a great pre-workout or post-workout food. Bananas help to beat anxiety and tension, which can suck the energy right out of you, and they won’t spike your blood sugar either.
Maca is one of my must-have foods, especially for energy. Maca is rich in amino acids, B vitamins, iron, fiber and is low GI, so it won’t spike your blood sugar. Again, balancing your blood sugar levels is key to sustained energy. Maca balances your body on all levels. It can give you energy, or calm you down, based on how your body is out of balance. This makes maca known as an adaptogen. Maca is derived from Peru, but sold in a powder here in the United States. I like to choose organic, raw maca powder for the best taste and nutritional profile. Maca has a caramel, slight butterscotch flavor that is great in smoothies, oatmeal, puddings and baked goods.
Coconut oil is known for its ability to enhance energy levels, but all parts of the coconut are highly energizing. Coconut is rich in lauric acid, healthy fats, fiber, is low in sugar, and fairly high in protein. The oil is often consumed for weight loss or by athletes for added energy. Coconut is also antiviral, which means it fights off disease and infections that can tamper with your immune system and lower your energy. I love eating unsweetened coconut shreds, adding raw, organic extra-virgin coconut oil to smoothies, using raw coconut flour in smoothies and baked goods, and drinking plain coconut water. You can also open a young Thai coconut and consume the meat, oil and water yourself through this perfect, whole energizing food.
Dates are one of my favorite foods for energy. These sweet little fruits, known as “nature’s candy,” are one of the best foods to eat when your energy levels are low, or before a workout. I find them great for beating bloat and joint pain, which can both ruin energy levels. Dates are rich in natural sugars, but they are also rich in fiber and one of the highest sources of potassium of all plant foods. They are rich in antioxidants and B vitamins as well, which make them a great energizing snack. Eat 1-2 before a workout and your energy will soar without the blood sugar crash.
So there you have it! Add a few or, even better, add all these foods to your diet and watch your energy soar. Just be sure to take out the bad stuff like refined sugars and grains, gluten, processed foods, unhealthy fats, and hard-to-digest foods so you don’t steal the energizing benefits of these powerful foods. What is your favorite energizing food?