Diets that contain a variety of fresh, nutrient-rich foods can help reduce feelings of fatigue. Such foods include kale, oats, and watermelon, among others.
However, some processed foods — such as white bread and baked goods — can worsen fatigue in some people.
Read on for more examples of foods that could help beat fatigue. This article also takes a look at foods and drinks to avoid, along with some general tips for boosting energy.
In general, foods that can help boost energy levels are fresh rather than highly processed. They also tend to be rich in nutrients.
Some examples include:
Whole eggs contain plenty of nutrients. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), a typical egg contains 7 grams (g) of protein. It also provides 4% of the recommended daily intake of calcium and 6% of the recommended daily intake of vitamin A.
Eggs are also a source of fats. According to the National Institute on Aging, fat provides energy and helps the body absorb vitamins.
Bananas are a good source of potassium, fiber, and carbohydrates. This combination of carbohydrates and fiber provides a long lasting source of energy.
In fact, according to one small study, trained cyclists who ate bananas performed equally to those who consumed sports drinks during a 47-mile time trial. The researchers concluded that bananas are a good source of energy, specifically before and during long periods of exercise.
Whole almonds are rich in nutrients such as fats, fiber, and protein. Both protein and fat provide a feeling of fullness and can help increase energy levels.
Almonds also contain vitamin E and magnesium. They make a great afternoon snack.
Watermelons are a great source of hydration. According to the Agricultural Marketing Resource Center, watermelons are 92% water and contain vitamin C, vitamin A, and many other nutrients.
Dehydration can increase feelings of fatigue. However, a review from 2010 suggests that proper hydration increases mental alertness and improves well-being.
Kale is a leafy green vegetable rich in vitamins, antioxidants, and iron.
Red blood cells in the body contain iron. This mineral is essential for carrying oxygen around the body for cells to use as energy. For this reason, low levels of iron can cause a lack of energy.
According to the USDA, 1 cup of raw kale also contains plenty of potassium and vitamin A.
Spinach is another green leafy vegetable rich in iron. It is also high in vitamin K and magnesium.
Spinach and kale make an excellent combination in salads.
Chia seeds are rich in nutrients. For example, 1 ounce of chia seeds contains 4 g of protein, 11 g of fiber, and 9 g of fat.
Fiber is useful for preventing blood sugar spikes around meal times. Rapid changes in blood sugar levels are another possible cause of fatigue.
Oats are high in fiber and complex carbohydrates.
The body can easily break down refined carbohydrates and use them to provide a short-term energy boost. Sugar is one example of a refined carbohydrate.
However, complex carbohydrates are more difficult for the body to break down. This makes them a longer lasting source of energy.
Some foods and drinks might increase feelings of fatigue. For example, foods that are high in sugar can temporarily boost energy, but this spike often leads to a dip immediately after.
Examples of foods that could increase fatigue throughout the day include:
- sugary foods, including syrup and honey
- white bread
- baked goods
- high caffeine drinks
- heavily processed foods, such as potato chips
There are also some general diet-related behaviors a person can try to help keep their energy levels up during the day. These include:
- avoiding skipping meals
- eating an afternoon or morning snack, such as a handful of almonds, if energy levels dip
- sticking to recommended daily calories intakes
- staying hydrated with water or other nutritious drinks
However, different people may respond differently to these strategies, and something that works for one person might not work for another.
Making some other lifestyle changes can also increase energy levels throughout the day.
For example, the American Council on Exercise suggest that regular exercise can prevent fatigue. A person should aim to exercise on 3–5 days per week.
Also, the National Sleep Foundation explain that a good night’s sleep helps the body with:
- regulating temperature
- maintaining a healthy appetite
- keeping the immune system strong
- regulating hormone levels
These benefits can help maintain energy levels throughout the day.
Managing stress is another way to fight fatigue. Over time, chronic stress can cause symptoms such as tiredness and exhaustion. There are many things a person can try to reduce their stress levels, including meditation and exercise.
There are several foods that can help beat feelings of fatigue during the day. Look for foods that are high in protein, good fats, and fibers. Foods high in iron and other nutrients are also helpful.
It is best to avoid highly processed or sugary foods when trying to boost energy levels.