When it comes to getting that midday energy boost, energy bars and drinks aren't always ideal. A better alternative is snacking on whole foods that give you energy without the calories and caffeine.
Sugary snacks may cause unwanted side effects such as irritability, anxiety and withdrawal fatigue, whereas healthy fruits and many types of vegetables provide not only energy but nutrition that your body needs to stay healthy.
Bananas for Energy
Bananas are one of the best fruits that give you energy. They are relatively low in calories, but they are rich in antioxidants, healthy carbohydrates, potassium and vitamin B6, all of which help boost energy levels in the body. Bananas happen to be low in fiber and are easily digestible, which means their sugar enters your body quickly for a rapid energy boost. Because bananas tend to break down quickly by themselves, their energy benefits might dwindle faster if you don't include them with a protein or healthy fat. Dip your banana in peanut butter for a well-rounded, extended energy boost.
Spinach as a Source of Iron
Not getting enough iron from foods might cause a condition called anemia, which means your body tissues aren't receiving as much oxygen as they should be getting. The end result: constant fatigue. Of all the types of vegetables, spinach is one of the richest sources of iron, containing about 3.2 grams, when a half cup of it is boiled and drained, according to the Office of Dietary Supplements. This makes up approximately 20 percent of your daily iron needs. You will easily meet your iron needs if you have 1 cup of boiled spinach a day and add in other iron-rich foods such as oysters, clams, lentils and pumpkin seeds.
Citrus Fruits for Vitamin C
Citrus fruits, such as oranges and grapefruits, are fruits that gives you energy and offer some major other benefits. Vitamin C in citrus fruits plays a role in helping your body form amino acids, which are precursors to chemicals that regulate your energy levels. One of the first major signs of a vitamin C deficiency is fatigue, according to Merck Manuals. Also, including a vitamin C-rich fruit with your spinach or other iron-rich food will enhance your body's ability to absorb the iron, according to Health Services at Columbia University. For instance, you could eat a warm spinach salad topped with sunflower seeds and fresh wedges of oranges to get a full iron boost out of your meal. Other sources of vitamin C include kiwi, strawberries and bell peppers.
Sweet Potatoes for Complex Carbs
Complex carbohydrates are made up of long sugar molecule chains that generally break down slowly in your body, according to the Franklin Institute. Starchy vegetables such as sweet potatoes are considered complex carbohydrates, and they not only provide you with long-lasting energy, but also help keep you energized and reduce feelings of hunger in between meals. They also happen to be chock-full of other important energy nutrients such as vitamin C. If you're planning to put in a long workout, baking a sweet potato and topping it with some no-sugar-added applesauce is a sweet way to build up energy stores.