Through billboard ads and sponsored social media posts featuring your favorite pro athletes, energy-boosting drink companies have made it seem like their products are the only source of a pick-me-up during the day. Watching a Red Bull athlete spray an energy drink into their mouth on the podium after a win would make anyone long for that kind of energy.
But there are alternative energy boosters that don’t come with hard post-boost crashes and aren’t addictive like many sources of caffeine.
Many fruits and vegetables are great sources of natural energy. They may be able to help you when it feels like your eyelids have weights on them and the workday is moving at a sloth’s pace.
Here is a list of some of the best fruits and vegetables to eat when a pick-me-up is needed.
Bananas are one of the best fruits for an energy boost. “A medium banana offers a two-for-one punch in replenishing sugar and potassium levels for fuel and muscle function,” according to Everyday Health.
A study published in PLOS One found that cyclists who were given bananas experienced less inflammatory issues than those who were given sugared drinks.
“Bananas contain a unique mixture of sugars, nutrients and bioactive compounds such as phenolics, biogenic amines, and carotenoids,” the study said, emphasizing that you get additional health benefits from bananas compared to sugared drinks that only provide a boost of energy.
2. Leafy greens
Greens like cabbage, spinach and kale are rich in energy-boosting nutrients.
These nutrients play a role in energy production at the cellular level.
For those who are anemic or low on iron, eating greens can combat the fatigue that comes with a lack of iron. “Eating green leafy vegetables such as kale, lettuce, and spinach that are high in iron may correct the deficiency causing the lack of energy. These greens are also rich in calcium, magnesium, potassium, vitamins A, C, E, K, packed with folic acid, fiber and antioxidants, which benefit the body immensely,” per the Anita Wang, MD website.
An apple a day keeps the doctor away, but does it give you energy, too?
“They are high in fiber, which helps the naturally occurring sugars digest slowly for sustained energy. One medium apple (182 grams) offers 95 calories and 4 grams of fiber,” according to EatingWell.
Unlike caffeine, the energy from fiber doesn’t cause a painful crash a few hours after it is consumed.
Avocados are a popular food that are rich in healthy fats and are a long-lasting source of energy.
According to the National Academy of Sports Medicine, the fats found in avocados “provide an energy substrate that can be utilized for performance enhancement; healthy fats provide nine calories of energy use per gram, whereas proteins and carbohydrates only provide four calories.”
For highly competitive athletes, the National Academy of Sports Medicine recommends up to two avocados a day for peak energy nutrition.
Berries like strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries provide energy through a combination of natural sugars and fiber. They also provide a variety of essential nutrients and antioxidants.
“Much like apples, strawberries provide natural sugar, which your body can quickly turn into energy. Again, the fiber content of strawberries means the energy they provide is sustainable. 100 grams of strawberries provide nearly 5 grams natural sugar at only 32 calories,” per Holland & Barrett.