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Good Food to Eat When You're Exhausted

author image August McLaughlin
August McLaughlin is a health and sexuality writer, podcast host and author of “Girl Boner: The Good Girl’s Guide to Sexual Empowerment” (Amberjack Publishing, 2018). Her articles appear in DAME Magazine,, the Huffington Post and more, and she loves connecting with readers through her blog and social media.
Good Food to Eat When You're Exhausted
Healthy foods promote positive energy levels. Photo Credit: Hemera Technologies/ Images

Whether from a lack of sleep, a hectic schedule or stress, everyone feels exhausted on occasion. In addition to aiming for sufficient rest, eating at regular time intervals and addressing any underlying medical condition, a healthy diet can help ensure positive, lasting energy levels. While dietary shifts can't magically transform you from wiped out to rested, certain foods can help improve your energy and moods when you're in a slump.

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Hearty Whole Grains

Whole grains are some of the healthiest sources of carbohydrates -- the primary fuel for your brain and body. Simple carbohydrate sources, such as white bread and sweets, provide the quickest energy, but they're also more likely to interfere with blood sugar control and lead to a decline in energy. For more stable blood sugar and energy levels, reach for complex carbohydrate sources, such as whole grains. Particularly nutritious examples include oats, quinoa, brown rice and air-popped popcorn.

Fatty Fish

Feeling energized is linked with positive brain function, according to Dina Aronson, a registered dietitian and contributing writer for "Today's Dietitian." Omega-3 fats play an important role in brain health. Fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, lake trout and sardines, are top sources of omega-3s. To gain more energy benefits from your meals, pair grilled, poached or baked fish with a complex carbohydrate source, such as wild rice or whole-grain pasta.

Fruits and Veggies

Fruits and vegetables supply rich amounts of antioxidants, which are important for positive brain function and energy levels, and water, which guards against lethargy associated with dehydration. As nutritious carbohydrate sources, they provide healthy alternatives to processed sweets, such as candy. Particularly antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables include berries, citrus fruits, bell peppers and potatoes. For an energizing snack, Aronson recommends dipping fruit in peanut or almond butter or serving walnuts with berries.

Healthy Beverages

In response to the energy you burn throughout the day, your body generates heat, which is released through perspiration. If you don't replenish those lost fluids, you're likely to become dehydrated, which can cause exhaustion, intense thirst and little or dark-yellow urine output. About 20 percent of your fluids derive from foods, such as fruits and vegetables. For the remaining 80 percent, rely on beverages. Women need nine cups per day, on average, and men should drink 12 cups per day, according to the University of Rochester Medical Center. Particularly healthy options include water, herbal teas and low-fat milk.

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