5 Ways To Get That Energy Boost You Need

If you're feeling sluggish and unfocused, it's easy to instinctually reach for the coffee or other caffeinated drink. This works at, say, 2 p.m. But say it's later in the day — caffeine less than six hours before bed can seriously interfere with sleep quality. To raise energy levels without caffeine (or sugar), snack wisely with foods high in protein, good fats and complex carbohydrates. These nutrients are digested more slowly than sugary foods and refined carbs. Foods that break down slowly lead to a more balanced energy-boost, unlike the spike and crash that comes from rapidly digested foods. For steady and sustained energy, the following five snacks are high in fiber, protein, and unsaturated fats as well as energy-boosting micronutrients such as magnesium and vitamin B12.

1. Almonds

These have a good mix of protein and monounsaturated fats. They're also rich in energy-boosting nutrients such as vitamin E, magnesium, copper and manganese.

2. Edamame

It's packed with protein, fiber, and iron, all of which can help create sustained energy. It's also a good source of mood-boosting folate and tryptophan and brain boosting omega-3 fatty acids.

3. Eggs, sardines, Greek yogurt.

A common source of fatigue is vitamin B12 deficiency (and celebs throughout history have been known to get B12 shots). For a natural dose of B12, have some eggs, sardines or Greek yogurt. All three are also high in protein (just watch for added sugars in yogurt). For stench reasons, please — PLEASE — don't eat the first two while on the subway. Thanks.

4. Pineapple

This fruit is a good source of manganese, copper, and vitamins C, B1, and B6. It also has high fiber content for a fruit.

5. Dark chocolate.

Dark chocolate has both caffeine and energy-boosting theobromine (plus antioxidants and flavanoids) In general, the greater the cocoa/cacao content, the less sugar and more good stuff.

Consider stocking your bag with these items in lieu of caffeine drinks and carb-heavy snacks — your energy levels will thank you.

Image: Wikimedia Commons