So your kid woke you up at 4 AM and refused to go back to sleep, and you have a meeting at 3:00 this afternoon. Or maybe you have plans that are a little later than you’d really like for them to be tonight, and you’re expected to be upbeat when you’d really rather be at home in your pajamas with a book, winding down before bed. Been there.
Be strong! No espresso shots! The coffee shop no longer exists.
These 9 superfoods to restore energy when you are at your most drained will carry you through the day without the need for coffee or any of those crazy neon-colored energy drinks. You’ll love this list because all of these superfoods are easily accessible and not terribly expensive.
So you travel a lot for work and don’t have access to a fridge, but driving so much is taking a toll on your energy levels. Almonds are easy to take with you when you’re going to be gone a long time and want to have an easy, quick snack on hand. They contain vitamin E, B vitamins, magnesium, and iron, all of which can help boost your energy.
Toss in some dried berries (blueberries, goji berries, raisins, etc) and you’ll have yourself a healthy trail mix to go. This is one of my favorite things to do because it takes like five seconds to prepare.
Hot Peppers (and Spices, Too!)
Feeling sluggish and cold at home or work? Going for a walk not an option? No problem. Ginger tea (I personally recommend going a little heavy on the ginger because it tastes amazing) or a spiced up curry dish will do the trick. This is an especially good option in the winter when you have to go back out after you’ve already gone from work to home. What you really want to do is cover up with a thick, fluffy blanket and watch a movie after dinner, but you can’t.
If you’re not getting enough oxygen to your cells, you’re not exactly going to feel chipper. Eating spicy foods, like hot peppers (or even ginger or spices like cayenne) rev up your circulation and get that oxygen coursing through your veins.
Got a lackluster love life lately? Some of the same herbs and spices that give you more energy can help liven things up in the boudoir, too.
An iron deficiency is one of the things that will keep you fatigued even if there’s nothing crazy going on in your schedule. And guess what? Leafy greens contain iron and the vitamin C that iron needs to be utilized in the body. This is possibly why the Glowing Green Smoothie was such a big help to me (it’s almost—almost–turned me into a morning person!).
You can enjoy the GGS as your morning boost (ditch the coffee!) or in the afternoon when you need to power through the rest of the day.
I suspect that I didn’t have enough iron in my diet before I started following the Beauty Detox principles because I noticed a huge increase in my energy levels once I started drinking it regularly. If you’re tired from the time you get up until you go to bed, give it a try. Actually, just give it a try anyway! You won’t regret it.
If it’s lunchtime, have a big salad with romaine, spinach, or kale to give yourself an easily digestible boost. Or enjoy some soup, like the GGSo.
We love bee pollen around here. There’s even an Energy in a Spoon recipe with two simple ingredients designed to give you quick energy when you need it. Rumor has it, the Chinese have eaten bee pollen for energy for centuries.
Going out for a nighttime social obligation? This is your secret weapon. Afternoon slump? Same thing. Power through that last bit of work of the day so you can leave on time.
One caveat: You can’t just stick a tablespoon of this superfood in your mouth on the first day. Since allergies are a risk with pollen, only have a few granules at first and then increase it daily, little by little.
It sounds counterintuitive, but did you know bee pollen could help cure your allergies? Mind Body Green has a post about how that works.
A drizzle of this delicious oil is the only other ingredient in the Energy in a Spoon recipe. Coconut oil is quickly processed into energy.
Bonus: In my experience, the Energy in a Spoon works as an appetite suppressant. When you find yourself hunched over your desk mid-afternoon, fighting off the urge to visit the vending machines or you’re worried about eating too much while you’re out with friends, mix this up.
Hybrid Rasta Mama has a super-extensive post on the potential uses of coconut oil.
Who doesn’t love bananas? They’re sweet, travel-friendly, and can be eaten on their own or blended into smoothies. They contain vitamin B6 (gotta love those B vitamins), which helps your body produce energy more quickly. Bananas also soothe anxiety, which can also make you tired.
When you have work stress (you know you do, at least sometimes) or you’re just generally feeling anxious or you need a mid-morning pick-me-up without a cup of coffee (or a second cup, if you haven’t shaken the habit yet), peel a banana. Relax.
Quinoa or Millet
Gluten-free grains like quinoa and millet are excellent for energy. You get B vitamins, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and iron (among others), which make these filling choices that still increase your energy.
“But they’re so bland. What do I do with them?” you say. Think of them as a fresh canvas. You can add any flavor your heart desires! I sometimes combine these grains with cooked vegetables and spices for a quick meal that keeps me chugging along all day and maybe even into the night. If you’ve been feeling sluggish around lunchtime lately, pack one of these grains to switch up your regular lunch routine.
Unlike some other options, like white bread or even whole wheat bread (gluten alert!), these are complex carbohydrates and complete proteins that digest easily and give you sustainable energy. You can’t say the same about animal products. Those will weigh you down and make you want to crawl into your car for a midday nap even more.
More than the basis for an immobile, leafy little pet, chia seeds are versatile superfood superstars. Toss them in a smoothie or whip up a chia seed pudding. If you’re feeling tired because you’re dehydrated, these will also help because they absorb 10-15 times their weight in water and then deliver that hydration to you, all wrapped up in a neat little (tiny!) package.
How do they work their magic? They help balance blood sugar levels and slow the conversion of starch to sugar in the body so energy levels stay stable. No more rollercoaster rides related to blood sugar ups and downs.
I realize this one’s kind of general, but when you eat raw vegetables, they introduce extra enzymes to your system for whatever comes next in your meal. That means digestion’s less taxing and that frees up more energy for you to carry on through the rest of the day and then make it to yoga class after work. Have them any time of the day.
You can eat your raw veggies in salad form or just have a few celery sticks or some raw broccoli before your meal. You may even want to try the Raw Chickpea-Free Hummus if you’re looking for an appetizer that’s a little more interesting than the salads you usually eat (it’s nice if you’re getting together for a meal with friends and everyone’s bringing something). It’s made from—you guessed it—raw veggies (zucchini, to be exact). Craving something after lunch at work? Reach for this.
Get Your Energy from Everyday Superfoods
You have at least a couple of these things in your pantry or refrigerator right now, right? Always have these 9 superfoods to restore your energy when you are at your most drained (or at least a few of your favorites).
Keep these foods at home and work and you’ll successfully avoid the vending machines and coffee shops. Most of all, you’ll avoid that helpless feeling you get sometimes where you’d give anything for a 20-minute power nap. Even your favorite pair of shoes.
What do you use to get through the day? Let me know!