When we feel tired, we usually go straight for a cup of coffee. Although that caffeine boost is undoubtedly great, you can also increase your energy through your diet, and there are certain foods to eat if you are feeling tired. Whether you need a morning pick-me-up or you're falling into that dreaded afternoon slump, eating the right foods can help combat that fatigue and have you feeling more energized, focused, and alert — without having to load up on five cups of coffee.
"As a dietitian, I recommend eating the right combination of foods together when you are tired versus eating a single food," says Deanna Segrave-Daly, registered dietitian and blogger at Teaspoon of Spice over email. "This way, you can get the best combination of those macronutrients — carbs, protein and fat — to help you fight fatigue initially and keep your energy levels up so you aren’t crashing and burning a few hours later."
Keeping your energy levels steady is important if you're feeling exhausted, so it's always best to opt for whole foods over a sugary bar or a quick processed meal. If you're feeling low on energy, try loading up on one of the below 11 foods, which can help combat tiredness naturally.
When it comes to energizing foods, whole grains are the way to go. A study from the International Journal of Food Sciences And Nutrition found that people who eat a breakfast high in complex-carbohydrates feel the most alert compared to people who eat a just a breakfast high in fat.
Bananas are high in complex carbohydrates, natural sugar, amino acids, making them a great natural energy booster. The fruit also contains tyrosine, an amino acid that helps produce norepinephrine, which can help improve your level of alertness, according to Rice University.
Whether you eat a handful of trail mix or spread some almond butter on toast, nuts make a great snack for decreasing tiredness. A study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that nuts can increase your satiety as well as maintain your energy levels, as they contain a healthy balance of fat and protein to keep blood sugar levels steady.
Your first thought may not be to eat Indian food when you're feeling sleepy, but curry contains a spice called turmeric that contains an active ingredient called curcumin that can improve mental function and boost your overall energy levels, according to multiple studies.
There's a reason so many people enjoy eggs in the morning: A study from the International Journal of Obesity found that people who ate eggs for breakfast had more steady energy levels throughout the day than people who ate just a bagel. Eggs contain the B vitamin choline, which can improve verbal and visual memory, according to Medical Daily.
"Avocado has healthy fats to help with satiety and energy, plus the fatty acids may help with inflammation which has been linked to fatigue," says Marci Clow, MS, RDN, Senior Nutritionist at Rainbow Light over email. A study from American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that eating a diet high in monounsaturated fats helps improve energy levels compared to a diet high in saturated fats.
7. Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate is a great choice if you're feeling tired because like coffee, it contains caffeine. Eating dark chocolate can also improve your cognitive functions, according to research from the journal Appetite.
A study from Tufts University found that berries such as blueberries can help improve motor performance as well as working memory. "Berries are a favorite for energy, as they supply a healthy dose of carbs to rev energy without adding too much sugar," says Clow.
9. Leafy Greens
"Dark green leafy veggies provide energy, protein, and fiber and are loaded with antioxidants," says Clow. Try eating greens such as kale, spinach, swiss chard, or collard greens for a healthy boost of energy.
As if we needed another excuse to eat sushi. "This fish contains a hefty dose of protein which is needed to fuel metabolism and increase energy," says Clow. "The fatty acids in salmon may help reduce inflammation which, has been linked to fatigue."
Last but not least, it's important to drink lots of water when you're feeling tired. Research from the Journal of Nutrition shows that even just mild dehydration can cause fatigue and moodiness, so drink up to help feel your best.
The more balanced meals you eat, the less tired you will feel, and try to stick with foods that are high in nutrients, which can help keep your body functioning optimally.
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