We’ve all chugged an energy drink to get through work or dreamed of being connected by IV straight to the coffee maker. We know it means crashing hard when the buzz wears off. And we know that when fatigue sets in, we’ll reach for another beverage to get us out of the caffeine-less slump.
It’s a vicious cycle, but what if you could get an energy injection without relying on Starbucks or Red Bull for your fix? A variety of energising foods offer the lift of a coffee hit without the burnout that comes after. Try replacing your next cup of joe with one of these invigorating eats instead.
Folate deficiencies are more common in people who have digestive problems, kidney or liver disease, issues with alcohol abuse, inflammatory bowel disease, and celiac disease. Low folate levels are associated with weakness, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, and irritability. When consumed along with other B vitamins, folate promotes neurological health, helps keep you alert, and bolsters energy levels. Avocado is a prime source of folate, along with beans, root veggies, whole grains, and leafy greens.
#2 Beet Juice
Beet juice is an all-natural performance enhancer. Beets contain a high concentration of nitric oxide (not the thing that gets you high at the dentist’s office), a compound that increases vasodilation. Widened blood vessels allow better blood flow and oxygen consumption, which translates into increased efficiency and performance. Nitric oxide is also said to speed muscle growth and recovery time after a workout.
Eggs are one of many foods with high vitamin B12 content. Nicknamed the “energy vitamin,” B12 is responsible for energy production – so lack it and you may feel weak, tired, or lightheaded. Vegans are at an especially high risk for B12 deficiency, as are vegetarians whose diet lacks sufficient B12-rich foods. Along with eggs, the vitamin is also present in meat, fish, dairy, nori seaweed, and some varieties of mushroom.
#4 Iron-rich Foods
Iron deficiency is the most common nutritional deficiency in the world. Amongst iron’s many important functions is the transport of oxygen to your tissues. In the absence of proper oxygenation, your cells begin to die out and so does your energy. Iron in meat, poultry, and fish (heme iron) is more easily absorbed than iron in vegetables (non-heme iron). Consuming vitamin C alongside non-heme iron can increase its absorption.
#5 Dark Chocolate
Even dessert plays a role in maintaining optimum energy levels. Dark chocolate has a high concentration of flavanols, which may bolster energy by reducing inflammation and improving arterial blood flow. A study even recorded improvement in adults with chronic fatigue syndrome who took a daily dose of 85% cocoa chocolate. Unfortunately, the more flavanols are present in the chocolate, the more bitter it tastes. Milk chocolate and white chocolate won’t cut it – only dark will do.