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23 Best Foods for Energy Metabolism

Hint: None of them come in a soda can.

Maybe you had a bad night's sleep or are approaching the afternoon slump, but the bottom line is that you need an energy kick—stat! Well, skip the Red Bull because there are better and healthier sources of energy that won't drive you into a sugar coma.

Generally speaking, all food supposedly gives you energy. But some foods are better at providing the energy kick you need to conquer the world. Try noshing on any of these picks—and go from 0 to 10 on the energy scale. And for more inspiration for getting fired up to make big things happen, don't miss these 20 Foods Successful People Eat.



Packed with more protein than any other grain, plus rich in amino acids, quinoa makes the perfect energy boost mid-day. "It is also high in folate, magnesium, phosphorus and manganese, making it a nutrient-packed source of carbohydrates for long-lasting energy levels," says Dr. Lindsey Duncan, celebrity nutritionist. For plenty of ideas on how to enjoy quinoa, save this list of 30 Quinoa Recipes for Weight Loss.



Lentils are a food that gives you a bang of nutritional value for barely a buck. Its high fiber content stabilizes blood sugar levels, keeping you energized all day.

Tuna Fish

Tunafish crackers snack

While it doesn't have the most pleasant smell, eating tuna fish for lunch can perk you up. Loaded with protein and vitamin B, eating type of fish can provide a great source of energy says Rebecca Scritchfield, R.D.N. A piece of advice: go for the light canned tuna which is one of the 6 Best Fish for Weight Loss. And to really get a better understanding of your most nutritious fish options, take a look at our exclusive report on the 40+ Popular Types of Fish—Ranked for Nutrition.


soaking beans

Not only will beans keep you feeling full and satisfied, but they can also prevent you from feeling sluggish midday. "The protein helps keep blood sugar levels steady to keep you energized, plus the complex carbohydrate provides energy for the brain and body," says Zied.


Hard boiled eggs peeled

They're the number one breakfast food for a reason! "Eggs provide high-quality protein and heart-healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids and help stay energized and prevent overeating," says Elisa Zied, R.D.N., C.D.N., author of Younger Next Week and Food, Fitness & Fiction blogger. (Psst! Find out What Happens to Your Body When You Eat Eggs!)

Whole Grain Cereal

Woman eating a bowl of cereal

There is nothing bland about whole grain cereal! And eating this in the a.m. is a great way to pump up your energy. "High-fiber whole grain cereals slow the release of glucose into the bloodstream which ultimately translates to more consistent energy levels throughout the day," says Lisa Moskovitz, R.D., founder of The NY Nutrition Group.

Chia Seeds

Pour chia seeds on yogurt

Sprinkles these healthy seeds into your yogurt or smoothies and you the energy you need to fuel your day. "Chia seeds give you stable energy because of their great ratio of protein, fats and fiber combined with the fact that they're low-carb," says Carolyn Brown, MS, RD at Foodtrainers on Manhattan's Upper West Side. "They won't cause spikes and drops in blood sugar or insulin levels, preventing cravings and overeating later."

Green Tea

Green tea

More of a tea drinker? Then trade the java for a some green tea; we're such big fans at Eat This, Not That! that we created The 7-Day Flat-Belly Tea Cleanse. Much like coffee, green tea naturally contains caffeine, but it also has a compound called thymine that keeps you focused and alert without feeling jittery. Meanwhile, its powerful properties help burn more belly fat—which is why test panelists for the cleanse lost up to 10 pounds in a week!


Plain yogurt

"Yogurt is a great source of high-quality protein to fill you up and provide basic energy for the brain, says Zied." The best part about this food is it pairs well with pretty much everything. Add some granola, nuts, or fruit to amp up its flavor.


Orange slices

Oranges contain high levels of vitamin C, which can make you less tired two hours after intake. For more smart snacks, try these 40 Healthy Snack Ideas to Keep You Slim.


Bowl of nuts

Most nuts like almonds, peanut butter, and cashews are booming with nutrients, healthy fats, and are an excellent source of protein. Past studies have found that their nutrition content can help sustain energy levels. Plus, they're easy to take wherever you go.

Wild Salmon

Wild salmon fillet
Caroline Attwood/Unsplash

There's nothing fishy about this! Not only is wild salmon great for muscle de is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids and protein, which can help you maintain those high energy levels. It's also one of the 20 Healthy Fats to Make You Thin.

Pumpkin Seeds

pumpkin seeds

"Pumpkin seeds are a good source of protein, healthy fats and fiber, keeping you feeling full and energized longer," Dr. Duncan says. "They also contain manganese, magnesium, phosphorus and zinc, which provide additional energy support to maximize gym time." Add them on to your salads or eat them alone during lunch to perk you up for the rest of the day.


Picking red apple from tree

With its high abundance of vitamins and minerals, an apple is basically the poster child for healthy food. It's also made up of simple carbohydrates, which can offer a quick burst of fuel.



One of the easiest and cheapest foods for an instant pick-me-up. Bananas contain glucose which provides a great energy boost to help you crush your workout. Plus noshing on this fruit gives you a load of benefits. Check out 21 Amazing Things That Happen to Your Body When You Eat Bananas.


Strawberry spinach salad poppyseed dressing

The all and mighty powerful leafy green just got mightier. Spinach gets its gold star for energy due to its amino acids and tyrosine, a compound that has been known to improve alertness. Not a fan of greens? Toss it in your smoothie. We promise you won't taste it!


Fresh blueberries plastic pint

Snacking on these powerful berries can help you beat that post-lunch slump. They're low in sugar, but high in fiber, a powerful combination to keep your body humming with energy. The best part is that you can throw in anything: salads, yogurt, smoothies, or just enjoy them on their own. Bonus: They're one of the 15 Most Antioxidant-Packed Fruits & Veggies.

Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolate
Charisse Kenion/Unsplash

Researchers from Northern Arizona University had participants snack on chocolate with 60 percent cacao and found an increase in alertness and attentiveness. But that doesn't give you the green light to devour the chocolate bar. A small piece is just enough to get you going but remember to choose a dark chocolate with at least 70 percent cacao.

Trail Mix

trail mix

This combination of nuts, seeds, and dried food makes this an epic snack when fatigue strikes. The fat found the nuts and seeds are a great source for long-lasting energy while the high fiber content slows down glucose-release so there's a steady supply says Moskovitz. Just make sure to keep your portion control in check; you really only need a handful or two. Downing an entire bag (like you might find at the airport) is actually a calorie bomb for your belly.


Mike Marquez/Unsplash

We all know that caffeine can provide a much-needed jolt to get through the workday. But a study also found that drinking coffee pre-workout can improve your exercise. Men who drank about 5 milligrams of coffee (about 2-3 cups) and found that they were able to complete more reps of bench presses and leg presses than workout days sans java. Speaking of, here are 35 Things You Didn't Know About Caffeine.

Lean Beef

venison steak on cutting board

Being a meat lover has its perks! Zied says that a piece of beef contains high protein and amino acids to sustain your energy levels and keeps you fuller longer. Pair it with veggies for a well-balanced meal.


Faucet filling water glass

Past studies found that dehydration is the culprit to why we're so tired (or think we're hungry). So, next time you're feeling sluggish, guzzle down some H2O for a quick energy boost.

Yerba Mate

yerba mate

Never heard of Yerba Mate? Allow us to explain: it's an all-natural energy drink derived from the mate plant found in South America. Like coffee and green tea, it has a natural source of caffeine, but its abundance of vitamins and minerals helps sustain your energy without the crash and burn. Need more convincing? Here are 10 Reasons People Swear By Yerba Mate.