The human body is more than capable of functioning without caffeine or other stimulants, but we have to give it what it needs to do so, both nutritionally and physiologically. If we don’t fuel our bodies with healthy foods or give it the rest it needs, then it will tell us by causing us to feel tired and lethargic. So, to have energy naturally, we must eat right, drink right and sleep right.
A Healthy Diet for Energy
Eating a diet rich in fresh vegetables, superfoods (we’ll get to that later in this article) and fruit as well as lean protein and healthy fats are key to giving your body the raw materials for optimal natural energy. You should try to have plenty of nutrient dense superfoods with every meal and also choose snacks that don’t just provide calories but quality nutrition from protein, healthy fats, and complex carbs as well.
This can be a huge lifestyle adjustment for many since Western diets are often full of processed food as well as full of fast food.
We run on coffee for a reason and that reason is all of the poor quality many of us consume each and every day. This diet leads to obesity, disease, and lack of energy which leads to people needing more coffee to function.
This doesn’t mean that you can never have anything sweet or what would be considered “junk food.” However, these foods should be no more than 10% of your diet. The rest of your nutrition should come from nutrient-dense, whole foods.
Here’s a list of foods to include in your diet for energy:
- It’s worth mentioning again, cacao is nature’s best source of magnesium, and is also naturally rich in calcium and antioxidants
- green leafy vegetables (leaf lettuce, kale, spinach etc.
- bell peppers, sweet peppers, hot peppers etc.
- peas, green peans, snow peas
- red cabbage
- sweet potatoes
- blueberries, blackberries, raspberries
- citrus: oranges, lemons, grapefruit, limes
- brown ricewhole wheat pasta
- white potatoes with skin
- beans: black, white, kidney
- chic peas
- nuts: walnuts, pecans, peanuts, almonds
- chia seeds
- Greek yogurt
- low-fat dairy: cottage cheese, hard cheeses, milk
Alternatively, here’s a list of foods that will cause you to feel tired and lethargic:
- Highly-processed foods: anything prepackaged that contains added sugar, preservatives, and artificial flavors and colors.
- High-sugar foods: candy bars, desserts, sodas & other sugary beverages, ice cream, fruit juices, candy, and many breakfast cereals. These give a quick boost of energy but are followed by a horrible crash, which leaves you wanting a nap.
- High-fat foods: fried foods, chips, french fries, corn chips, fast food burgers, hotdogs, and some cheeses.
- Highly refined carbohydrate foods: white bread, donuts, pastas, rolls, tortillas, cookies, many types of crackers, and pizza crust. These cause blood sugar and insulin spikes that lead to feelings of tiredness.
- Alcohol: Alcohol is a depressant and it causes the body to feel tired and sleepy. Although some may act energetic and even hyperactive while drinking, the real research shows that alcohol’s true effect is slowing the body down. Decreased alertness and decreased reaction time are symptoms of alcohol consumption. This is why drinking and getting behind the wheel of a car can be so deadly.
- Making sure your diet is full of foods on the first list and that it contains little of the foods in the second list will greatly increase your body’s ability to feel energetic and ready for what it needs to accomplish.
Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. For professional dietary advice you should always consult a Registered Dietitian (RD), and for diagnosis of a health condition you must see your physician.