Turning to sugar and caffeine as your source of energy can damage your adrenal glands (and your body's natural ability to give you energy), and typically always results in a crash. While you don't necessarily need to skip coffee, if you want to keep your energy levels high and avoid an afternoon slump, turn to the right foods, vitamins, and hydration. Here are your energy essentials.
- Iron-rich foods: Dark leafy greens and red meat are great options to naturally absorb energy-boosting iron. Also, there are trace minerals — including iron — on potato skins, so if you're reaching for fries, try having a potato with skin instead. Try an iron-rich spinach smoothie in the morning instead of coffee to give your body the essential energizing nutrients it needs.
- Essential macronutrients: Carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats (avoid greasy, fatty foods!) are your body's primary energy sources. While carbs will turn into quick energy, the fats and protein will sustain you for the long haul. If you're trying to figure out the right balance of macros, read more about them in this helpful macro counting guide.
- B vitamins: For a natural energy surge, you'll also want to load up on B vitamins. While you could opt for a supplement, there are plenty of foods rich in Bs, including animal proteins (poultry, beef, pork, and fish), dairy products, corn, oatmeal, broccoli, and nutritional yeast. If you're not a meat eater, check out this list of vegan vitamin B sources.
- Manganese: The mineral manganese helps turn carbohydrates and protein into energy. Foods high in this mineral include pineapple, brown rice, garbanzo beans and raspberries.
- Matcha: A natural stimulant, matcha is considered "the espresso of green tea." You can have your matcha in a tasty tea latte, or in a number of recipes, from spiralized noodles to fondue.
- Water: While not an outright stimulant, fatigue is one of the first signs of dehydration. And while straight up H2O is the best, most pure way to keep your body hydrated, you can also reach for a hydrating snack like watermelon or cucumber, or sip on coconut water.