37 Best Foods For Energy

Best foods for energy

It's true that all foods provide the body with energy to some capacity, but if you're looking for the best food for energy that will see you through the day, look no further.

Different types of foods are converted to energy at different rates. Some, such as refined carbohydrates and simple sugars, provide the body with a quick jolt of energy, whereas the likes of legumes, whole grains and healthy unsaturated fats offer more sustainable energy that you'll draw on throughout the day.

We have broken the foods for energy down into the following categories in order to make it easier for you to add them in to your diet:

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#1 Spinach

what food gives you the most energy

Kickstarting the list is an option that many of us may associate with Popeye and his bulging muscles! Just as the sailor reaches for spinach when he needs a boost, many athletes choose this leafy green vegetable to give them some much-needed energy, too.

Spinach might just be the best energy food in terms of its nutrient profile. It's full of healthy vitamins and minerals, so it's not only a great energy food, but an all-round fantastic superfood.

Spinach contains many of the raw building blocks for energy. It's rich in magnesium, which plays a crucial role in energy production. Magnesium is also important for correct muscle function, so it will enable you to work out at a higher intensity for longer periods of time. Spinach is a food that gives energy and stamina, and that high magnesium content will shorten your recovery times too.

Additionally, spinach is rich in the amino acid L-glutamine - which you can read more about here and the advantages it offers for the body. 

The leaves of spinach are iron-rich, which is extremely important for the body's overall health and function. Iron helps to transport oxygen through the bloodstream, delivering it to the muscles. Oxygenation is vital for energy and will help to stave off cramps and muscle pain.

Potassium also comes in abundance in spinach and that too has a role to play in delivering energy, as well as supporting your nerves and muscles. The combination of these minerals makes spinach the best food for energy production, delivery and release. It is, quite simply, an energy superfood.

Leafy vegetables are, generally speaking, great for energy release. Cabbage, kale and watercress, to name but three, will give you an undeniable lift. Spinach leads the pack, though, due to its incredibly dense nutrient profile. Not only does it produce energy, but it helps to deliver that energy straight to where it's needed.

#2 Sweet Potatoes

sweet potatoes good food for energy

Sweet potatoes offer a delicious and exceptionally versatile high energy food.

Sweet potatoes rank high as the most energy dense food you'll find. They contain huge amounts of both the raw materials for energy and the vital nutrients that your body needs to process that fuel. Vitamin A, for example, is hugely important for energy production, as well as the immune system; it helps your body produce and maintain the correct energy levels and even assists with respiration. 

For context, one 180g sweet potato baked with its skin contains approximately 1730 micrograms of vitamin A. Advice provided by the Institute of Medicine's Food and Nutrition Board states that adult men need only 900 micrograms of the nutrient daily, and women just 700 micrograms. Therefore, consuming one sweet potato will fulfill over 100% of their recommended daily allowance of vitamin A.

The good news doesn't end there either; sweet potatoes also contain 25g (per 100g serving) of complex carbs. These are the building blocks of energy, and the raw fuel that your body requires to keep you going. Since sweet potatoes also contain an enormous amount of fibre, your body will digest those carbs slowly, making them the perfect energy food for the gym and running.

A single serving also contains 25% of the daily magnesium count; a nutrient which has a crucial role to play in energy production. All in all, sweet potatoes are one of the most complete high energy foods available. They're tasty, versatile, and will give you everything you need to keep going through a long day.

As a general rule, anything you can do with a standard potato you can do better with a sweet variety! Sweet potato wedges and fries (when prepared healthily in the oven) are a brilliant snack, especially with a dash of paprika.

Baked sweet potatoes make a wholesome and filling meal, and due to their high fibre content, they'll keep you feeling full for a long time. That makes them ideal for dieters, but they're even better for people in search of good healthy energy foods.

#3 Kale

kale healthy food for energy

Another leafy green along similar lines to spinach, kale has a few benefits of its own.

Much like spinach, it's a great energy food for running because it contains high levels of iron and magnesium. Iron helps to transport blood oxygen around the body, delivering it to the muscles, while magnesium is required for correct muscle function. Proper oxygenation is essential to energy production and will also stave off cramps and soreness.

Moreover, kale is full of Vitamin C, which encourages your body to absorb more iron. It also includes Vitamins A, B, and K. One of the more intriguing benefits of kale is how it's thought to stimulate the production of nitric oxide. There is some work still to be done in this area, but we do know that nitric oxide affects the blood vessels and increases blood flow. This, along with kale's high iron content, makes it excellent at helping your body deliver oxygen to your muscles.

Just like spinach, kale also contains plenty of potassium and it's rich in antioxidants - hence its feature on or best antioxidant foods shortlist. While those antioxidants might not give you an energy boost, they will help to mop up free radicals in the bloodstream and protect your muscles from damage and inflammation. This prevents cramps and soreness during exercise, and if you're in training, it can also shorten recovery times.

Kale makes a great addition to smoothies or it can be eaten as part of a salad. If you choose to cook it, though, be careful. It's important to cook kale using healthy oil or balsamic vinegar. This will ensure that the vitamin profile is preserved, and using oil or vinegar will make it easier for your body to absorb those key, energy giving nutrients.

#4 Cordyceps Mushrooms

most energy dense food

Coming in many shapes and sizes, mushrooms are increasingly linked to all kinds of health benefits, including immune system support, enhanced stamina and even increased longevity. Of course, different mushrooms will yield different benefits, but they're all effective food for energy. Many athletes choose them as a way to harness a natural boost.

By far the most popular mushroom food to boost energy is the cordyceps mushroom. It's so famed for its energy giving properties that it's even earned the nickname the 'Olympic mushroom.' Its mode of operation is quite simple. It gives the body an enormous dose of a special compound called cordycepin.

This compound is virtually identical to adenosine triphosphate, which occurs naturally in the body. Adenosine triphosphate is used to develop energy, but the compounds in the cordyceps mushroom behave in exactly the same way.

Best of all, we don't produce cordycepin for ourselves, so it equates to free fuel. The body is getting energy without having to create the fuel itself. Cordycepin also increases levels of ATP in the bloodstream, which is another energy producing chemical.

The effect of these special mushrooms is so profound that three Chinese athletes were accused of doping after using them at the 1993 Olympics. The team members set new records, but all tested negative for illegal substances. It transpired that they'd been eating cordyceps mushrooms, and they attributed their high levels of performance to the fungus. 

All mushrooms contain nutrients that are useful for energy production, but cordyceps is undoubtedly the best. It might be a little hard to come by, but the search is worth it.

#5 Beets

good food for energy

Beetroot, commonly known as beets, haven't always been amongst the well known energy boosting foods, but that's rapidly changing.

Their burgeoning popularity can be attributed to their excellent nutritional profile and high nitrate content. Nitrates are an important component of energy but they aren't found in that many foods. This makes beets somewhat unique, and another great food that gives energy and stamina.

Beetroot is especially high in nitrates. These compounds play an intriguing role, not just in energy production, but how energy is delivered around the body. Nitrates boost blood flow; this means that they also boost the amount of oxygen transported to muscle tissue which equates to higher energy levels, especially during an arduous athletic workout. That's why beets are often considered useful cycling energy foods, as they increase oxygenation and blood flow over a long distance.

Along with nitrates, beets are also rich in some of the more common energy giving nutrients. They contain that all important carbs/fibre combination, so they'll deliver their energy in a slow and sustained manner. They offer some additional sugar too, which will give you an immediate lift. When considered alongside the blood flow enhancing potential of nitrates, beets are an exceptionally efficient source of energy.

Recipes come in all shapes and sizes. Beets can be roasted either on their own or along with other vegetables, or blended into a healthy smoothie. They make a great addition to salads and can be used in both sweet and savoury dishes. Due to their strong flavour, they have the potential to really spice up a meal!


#6 Strawberries

What foods give you energy -

Strawberries are a tasty snack associated with warm summer days, which makes them the perfect energy food addition to a picnic!

Like much of the other fruits on the list, they’re rich in both fibre and sugar. Sugar, as we know, delivers a natural energy boost, and the sugars contained in fruits are far healthier because they also happen to come with a side order of nutritious fibre. The combination of the two is in part responsible for the energy boosting credentials of strawberries and ensures a sustainable lift.

Fibre keeps you feeling full for much longer, which makes strawberries great natural energy foods if you're on a health kick or in a calorie deficit. You can compound the effect still further by combining them with something else on the list. Strawberries and nuts, for example, make an excellent duo, and the additional nutrients from the nuts pair wonderfully with the strawberries. Fruit salads involving melon and orange also work well, and the water from the melon will help with hydration. 

Just one cup of strawberries offers an impressive 13g of fibre along with 13g of carbs, which is an excellent ratio on a par with the best energy foods on the list. Startlingly, they also contain the full 100% of your Vitamin C allowance, so they’ll support your immune system too, keeping you feeling healthy.

Strawberries are also bursting with antioxidants, whcih if you didn't know, are substances that can prevent or slow damage to cells. More specifically, they help to stop your muscles becoming inflamed, and in doing so enable you to workout for longer. Nothing makes you feel more sluggish than cramps or inflammation, so loading up on antioxidants is a brilliant pre-workout routine. 

#7 Apples

Healthy foods that give you energy

Perhaps one of the more underestimated foods to give you energy on this list, next up is apples.

They pack a big punch and keep you fuelled for a prolonged period of time anf see you safely through a period of intense exercise. Like all fruits, apples are full of natural sugars, which offer an instant lift - that makes them a great option for energy boosting foods to consume when you're in a hurry or in need of a pick me up at the gym.

There's much more to these simple fruits than just sugar, though. Apples contain a surprisingly high number of carbs, which in order to create energy, your body must burn these carbs. Just one apple usually contains around 14g of carbs, which is a higher amount than many other fruits.

Alongside those carbs, there is also 2.1 g of fibre present per apple. This ensures that the carbs are processed effectively and digested slowly.

The energy released from apples is slow and steady due to the balance of natural sugars, carbs and fibre. That makes them an especially good breakfast fruit, and you'll find that they keep you feeling energised all the way to lunch.

Better still, apples are also high in antioxidants. These are useful because they soak up free radicals in the bloodstream and prevent oxidative stress on the muscles. That stress is a major cause of fatigue for runners, cyclists and a range of other athletes who look to antioxidants as a way to keep going for longer.

To reap the full range of benefits from apples you should eat them with the skin on. There are quite a few vitamins and nutrients in and close to the skin, which are lost if you peel the apple. Otherwise, you're free to enjoy these fruits in any way you see fit, be that as a snack, with porridge in the morning or even baked as a tasty, sweet desert.

#8 Bananas

energy food before workout

Bananas are one of the most common high energy foods around. You'll often see athletes snacking on bananas in the middle of an event, especially tennis players who often consume them between sets. Bananas are so good for energy, in fact, that they're considered by many as the best way to get energy from food. They're certainly one of the most cost-effective ways to boost your energy, and they're convenient too, so you can take them anywhere from the gym to a long-distance run.

Bananas generate energy in quite a few ways. They're rich in sugar, which will give you a boost, but they're also incredibly fibre dense. That high fibre content slows the digestion of sugar and moderates blood sugar levels. This means that not only do bananas give you a great deal of energy, but they release that energy slowly and sustainably. As such, they're great natural energy foods before the gym, and eating a banana just before you head out will see you through the session.

The benefits of bananas for energy don't end there either. Bananas are full of energy generating nutrients including potassium and Vitamin B6. These are essential for energy production and are required by the body. That's why bananas don't just give you a boost, but a long term lift. It makes them a great energy food for cycling and means that they'll support you through even the longest ride.

If that wasn't enough, bananas are also rich in complex carbs, which are the raw materials that the body burns to create energy. All in all, it's no surprise that so many people consider bananas the best food to give you energy. Versatility is another point in their favour, and you can easily incorporate bananas into smoothies or fruit salads, or even have a treat in the form of a banana muffin.

#9 Oranges

energy food before gym

Perhaps the most notable component in oranges is their sugar content. They make great healthy energy foods because they're loaded with natural, healthy sugars. Simply consuming an orange will top up your blood sugar levels and give you a boost, so they might be considered one of the more quintessential energy boosting foods.

A high fibre content ensures that the sugar is absorbed slowly and steadily, which equates to a sustainable and crash-free release of energy. Sugar in any form will give you a boost, but sugar accompanied by fibre will make that boost last much longer.

Oranges have plenty more going for them than just sugar, though. They're exceptionally rich in antioxidants, which offer a range of advantages. Antioxidants mop up free radicals in the blood and prevent oxidative damage to the muscles. Oxidative stress is linked to increased muscle fatigue and soreness, which will slow you down. Incidentally, a high antioxidant count is also linked to shorter recovery times and less soreness the day after exercise. 

Oxidative stress is one of the main causes of slow down during a race, so oranges are a brilliant energy food for running, something which is borne out by studies. One study looked at 13 women who drank 500ml of orange juice before performing an hour of aerobic exercise. This experiment was repeated three times each week for three months, and the results were very encouraging. The women reported far less muscle fatigue, boosted stamina and much more energy during their exercise.

It's simple to get oranges into your pre-workout routine. They make a great addition to breakfast or can be added to a smoothie. Whatever you choose, the antioxidants in these fruits will keep you running for longer.

#10 Avocados

Foods that boost energy

Avocados are already one of the most popular superfoods in the world. They offer an impressive list of nutritional benefits including B Vitamins, high fibre content and an impressive 84% healthy fat rating.

The fats in avocados are of the good monounsaturated and polyunsaturated kind, making them exceptionally healthy. They stand above and beyond most other foodstuffs, even the healthiest fruits and vegetables.

Considered one of the best foods for energy, avocados serve the dual purpose of stabilising blood fat levels and making nutrient absorption more efficient. Those healthy fats stabilise and moderate fat levels in the blood, which helps with energy release. They're also stored throughout the body and burned to generate energy. 

Loading up on calories is one way of boosting your energy stores. It is, however, unhealthy if you do it with the wrong fats, which is why avocado is such a great choice. You'll get all the benefits of calorie loading without any of the negative benefits of harmful fats. Your body will have the raw materials to burn, but minus the bad fats. 

The energy released from avocados is sustainable and crash free. Not only are avocados the most energy dense food in terms of healthy fats, but 80% of their carbs are derived from fibre. As previously established with oatmeal and cereal, a high fibre content moderates and controls how glucose is absorbed into the blood.

A slow and steady absorption equals a slow and steady release of energy which will last you over the day.

#11 Blueberries

healthy food for energy

The advantages of blueberries are manifold, and they're often touted as a superfood. Blueberries have been linked to everything from lower blood pressure and improved mental function to increased lifespan. Some people swear by blueberries to such an extent that they consume at least a cup per day.

Whether you want to take your blueberry consumption to that level is a matter of personal choice, but these fruits certainly make a fantastic energy food for gym goers.

Blueberries are loaded with vitamins and minerals, many of which will give you an energy boost. Potassium and magnesium have been shown to take care of your muscles and improve their performance during intense exercise. Magnesium is especially important and helps with the oxygenation of muscle tissue. Vitamins A and C, while not explicitly linked to energy release, are great for the immune system, and will help you feel at the top of your game all year round.

These fruits are also rich in complex carbohydrates, which are the building blocks of energy. That alone is enough to make them a high energy food, but the type of energy that they release is also important. Blueberries contain a desirable combination of soluble and insoluble fibre. That works to moderate how sugar is released into your bloodstream, which in turn offers a stable release of energy. A sudden rush of sugar will certainly give you a boost, but that boost will be short lived and followed by a dramatic slump. The fibre content in blueberries ensures a smooth, long lasting release.

You can read more about the benefits of blueberries that boost your health in our thorough guide.

Since blueberries are so popular, there are plenty of recipes available to incorporate them into your diet. They make a great addition to a smoothie, can be added to a fruit salad or simply eaten on their own. Consuming a cup before undertaking exercise is a great way to boost your performance.

#12 Melon

what food gives you the most energy (2)

Melon is an omnipresent ingredient in energy drinks and smoothies. You'll even find it as a flavouring in protein shakes and supplements. Melon is a great food to eat for energy and offers many of the same benefits as other fruits on this list. These include a great sugar to fibre ratio and high antioxidant count.

Antioxidants play a crucial role in preventing oxidative stress on muscle tissue. That stress is a major cause of fatigue and tiredness, and saps energy. Similarly, while the sugars in melon will give you a boost, they'll deliver that boost steadily due to the accompanying fibre.

A high fibre content moderates how sugar is absorbed from the digestive tract into the bloodstream. That means a smooth and long-lasting release which is more than enough to see you through the most arduous workout.

Melon really stands out from the crowd of energy boosting foods because of its high water content. It might not be loaded with quite the same number of sugars as other fruits, but it more than makes up for that in the liquid department. Athletes try all kinds of methods to get additional energy, but simply drinking more water is often enough.

Dehydration is extremely common, especially for long distance runners and cyclists, and it's the main culprit behind sluggishness and feelings of fatigue.

Any variety of melon is full of water. It's a great way to top up your fluid levels alongside more traditional methods, all the while getting some additional sugar and antioxidants. Adequate hydration is the path towards more energy, and staying hydrated with slices of melon will undoubtedly give you a boost. This, of course, makes melon a brilliant cycling energy food, and it will keep cyclists feeling energised and hydrated.

#13 Goji Berries

goji berries Foods that boost energy

Goji berries are one of the more exotic options on the list, and they come with a range of health benefits. 

Considered one of the best super fruits to add to your diet, goji berries contain many of the raw materials required for a food to give you energy, including that all-important fibre/carbohydrate combination. They're also rich in protein and contain just 40 calories per serving. That makes them a brilliant low fat energy food and a great choice for anybody on a diet. They don't contain a huge amount of sugar (just 6g per serving) so they're suitable for anyone on a low sugar diet too.

Goji berries have been popular in Chinese medicine for years. Nowadays they're praised for their high antioxidant content, which protects muscles from oxidative damage. That allows you to work harder and push through a lengthy workout. Antioxidants are great when you need a burst of energy, but they're equally important to stop your body showing signs of wear and tear.

Along similar lines, one serving of these berries will give you 30% of your recommended daily intake of Vitamin C. Vitamin C has been linked time and again to increased energy, and it will also keep you feeling well due to its associations with a strong immune system. It's an antioxidant, too.

On top of all this, goji berries are packed to bursting with calcium, zinc, iron and potassium, all of which are vital components of energy production. They certainly aren't the most common food in the world, but they're easy to incorporate into your diet. Try adding them to smoothies and fruit salads. Intriguingly, when cooked, goji berries adopt a more savoury taste similar to cherry tomatoes, so they make a fantastic addition to salads and savoury dishes.


#14 Oatmeal

quick energy boost food

Oatmeal is perhaps the most commonly touted addition to this list and a perfect option for those looking for slow release energy foods

There are plenty of good reasons to consider it the best energy giving food of all. Since it comes with so many other accompanying health benefits too, it's a brilliant choice. Oatmeal is rich in fibre, vitamins and minerals, and it's excellent for the digestive system. It's also low in fat, so if you're looking for healthy high energy food without excess sugar or calories, then you need look no further than oatmeal.

The energy boosting credentials of oatmeal come from a soluble fibre called beta-glucan. Combining this fibre with water transforms it into a thick, gelatinous substance which coats the digestive tract. This affects how quickly the body digests and processes nutrients, specifically glucose.

By slowing down the absorption of glucose into the bloodstream, beta-glucan delivers a much longer lasting, slow and sustainable release of energy. Oatmeal is the perfect choice if you're about to engage in some long distance running or other endurance events, it is even praised by personal trainers and professional athletes, supporting its addition in our personal trainer meal plan.

The benefits extend even further than its title as a slow release energy food, though. Oats are extraordinarily vitamin and mineral dense, so they actually help the body to produce energy. Manganese, B Vitamins and iron are particularly useful for this, and they’ll help you feel more energetic. That makes oatmeal potentially the best high energy food on the list.

Better still, oats are exceptionally versatile. They can be consumed in the morning as porridge before a run, or you can mix raw oats into a smoothie with fruit. It's always best to go for steel cut oats, which offer the most benefits, but any and all oatmeal will give you a boost.

#15 High Fibre Cereal

cereal Best foods for energy

We've already talked about the energy boosting credentials of oatmeal, but your everyday cereal can have a positive effect too. It is, however, important to be discerning about your cereal choice. If you're searching for good healthy energy foods, avoid overly processed cereals.

These often contain vast amounts of sugar, additives and additional empty calories. While a calorific, sugar dense cereal might give you a quick and superficial boost of energy, this will quickly be followed by a crash and slump.

Instead, opt for high fibre, low sugar alternatives. Bran is a great, healthy food for energy, especially if it's undergone minimal production processes and doesn't contain any added sugar. Pure wheat cereals are a good option too, and, generally speaking, you want as much fibre as possible. Fibre helps with energy levels because it moderates how your body digests and processes glucose.

Many, if not all, of the the options that feature in OriGym’s guide of the best healthy cereal bars offer a high fibre content that will provide you with the much needed energy boost you’re after, 

The process is similar to that of oatmeal. A high fibre cereal will ensure that glucose is absorbed slowly and steadily into your bloodstream. This, in turn, gives you a sustained and even release of energy without any subsequent crashes, jitters or unpleasant slumps. High fibre cereals aren't a quick energy boost food, but they are a long-term solution to get you through an arduous day or long workout.

You can further compound the effect by mixing fruit with your cereal. Fruits are rich in healthy, natural sugars, and also pack a fibrous punch. The sugar will give you energy, and the fibre will ensure that it's released slowly and sustainably over a long period of time.

#16 Quinoa

Foods to give you energy

Quinoa is a fairly new addition to the list, but it's a food that's rapidly growing in popularity. It's a healthy high energy food, and one with an excellent nutrient profile including all nine of the essential amino acids

It's exceptionally versatile too, so the seeds can be included in everything from smoothies to superfood salads. Quinoa is an offering that is easy and quick to prepare, so it's a great way to give yourself an energy boost before a workout or long day.

Quinoa ranks high on the list as a food that gives you energy due to its unique combination of high carbs and low glycaemic index. This means that, although the seeds contain lots of carbs, those carbs are absorbed slowly into the bloodstream and provide a gentle and long-lasting energy release - making this another great option for slow release energy foods

Low glycaemic indexes might be considered the opposite of coffee or energy drinks, which deliver a sudden explosion of energy that is potent but doesn't last for long.

A low glycaemic index means sustainable, crash free energy. That's why quinoa is a popular energy food for running, especially over long distances. Better still, quinoa contains manganese and magnesium, both of which have a crucial role to play in the production of energy.

Magnesium also supports your muscles, giving you an extra level of endurance. Many people wonder what food to eat for energy but don't consider the wider picture. By also supporting your muscles, quinoa helps you push harder for longer with additional strength.

Quinoa is regarded as a superfood with good reason. It might just be the best food to increase energy while also supporting muscle function, digestive health and overall well-being. It's a versatile and tasty ingredient and one that you can incorporate into plenty of meals.

#17 Seeds

Foods that boost energy 2

This is a broad category, but the right seed can be the perfect high energy food. 

There are plenty to choose from, including pumpkin, chia and flax. Each has slightly different properties, but they can all be classed as low fat energy food. They're versatile and can be incorporated into smoothies, salads or simply eaten on their own. A bag of seeds makes a great accompaniment to the gym or on a run.

Chia seeds might be the best pick of the bunch. They've been celebrated as an energy food since the days of the Aztecs! The diminutive seeds were so widely popular, in fact, that they get their name from the Mayan word for strength. The seeds are loaded with vital antioxidants, which stop your muscles suffering from oxidative stress and the associated fatigue. They're also rich in minerals including magnesium and potassium, as well as fibre to ensure that the energy release is smooth and sustained. 

Sunflower seeds make a great energy boosting snack too, and if you pair them with something like a banana you'll have an energy food that's supercharged. Flax seeds are full of fibre, and also contain omega-3 oils that can help to reduce blood pressure and give you more energy in the long term. They're also fibre rich, so they moderate how energy is released.

Pumpkin and squash seeds are excellent too. Generally speaking, any seed you choose will be packed with protein. Your muscles require protein to function, especially during lengthy aerobic exercise. Seeds also pack a quite intense zinc punch, which is a crucial (but often overlooked) component of energy. It's a building block of energy production and involved in the fundamental processes that energise the body. Topping up on zinc won't just make you feel physically more energetic, it will give you a mental boost as well.

#18 Brown Rice 

brown rice what food gives you the most energy

Brown rice is much more nutritious than its white counterpart. White rice is heavily processed and loses many of its nutritious benefits. Brown rice, on the other hand, goes through a far less invasive manufacturing process and retains those nutrients.

It's a rich source of vitamins, minerals and all important fibre. Brown rice makes a great offering for healthy energy foods because it can be paired with so many other healthy dishes too.

Brown rice is classed as an high energy food due to its high manganese content. It contains a huge percentage of your recommended daily allowance of manganese, and this mineral is essential for energy production. Manganese helps enzymes to convert protein and carbohydrates into energy. This process is fundamental to energy generation, and it's why manganese is such an essential mineral.

That alone would be enough to consider brown rice a quick energy boost food, but there's even more good news. A single 50g serving of brown rice will give you around 2g of fibre, which helps to make the energy release gradual rather than erratic. The rice offers all day energy, not just a quick and unsustainable lift.

The high fibre content of brown rice also accounts for its notoriously low glycaemic index. This means that it will help to moderate your blood sugar levels and deliver energy evenly. Brown rice might not be the most energy dense food on the list, but it contains some of the fundamental ingredients for energy production and offers a sustained boost.

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#19 Popcorn

Best foods for energy

It's safe to say that popcorn has an exceedingly bad reputation. When we think of popcorn, we tend to imagine a sweet snack enjoyed in the cinema, and one that's dripping with salt, sugar and other flavourings.

Cinema popcorn is exceptionally bad for you and can contain nearly 1000 calories per serving! That's not the end of the story though. When prepared properly, popcorn can actually be a food that gives you energy along with quite a few other health benefits too.

You can purchase healthy popcorn from a range of health shops. Just look for popcorn without any additional salt or sugar. Even better, you can prepare popcorn at home and control the ingredients yourself. Popcorn is exceptionally easy to prepare, and if you cook it using the air pop method it doesn't need any unhealthy cooking oils. 

Cut back on the sugar and salt (cinnamon is a great and much healthier choice of flavouring) and you've got yourself a tasty high energy food - with many options offering a great source of protein too. Check out our guide on the best protein popcorn for muscle gain for a filling snack that boosts your protein intake and hits your sweet spot. 

Much like the other additions to this list, popcorn owes its energy boosting credentials to a combination of fibre and carbs. The carbs generate the energy, while the fibre moderates how quickly they're absorbed into the bloodstream. Since popcorn is so fibre dense, the energy release is slow and sustained. That's great if you're looking for a pre-workout snack or about to embark on a lengthy run.

As an added incentive (and if you needed any more convincing about popcorn's nutritious value), studies have shown that people who choose popcorn over crisps stay feeling full for much longer. That's down to the fibre content, and since popcorn is much lower in calories than crisps, it's a great choice for dieters too. Ditch the unhealthy cinema popcorn, prepare your own and you've got a healthy high energy food that tastes great as well.

Beans and Legumes

#20 Chickpeas

chickpeas Foods that boost energy

Chickpeas have a range of health benefits and are widely considered one of the most nutritious foods around. They're rich in fibre, packed full of vitamins and minerals, and have a positive effect on digestion. They also happen to be one of the best choices for people in search of high energy food. Chickpeas are a fantastic choice if you're after a great tasting and versatile food to boost energy. Not only will they give you a boost, but you can use them in so many different recipes that you'll never get bored.

Just like other legumes, chickpeas are classed as a complex carbohydrate. The relationship between carbs and energy is an intriguing one, and not all carbs have the same effect. For example, the simple carbs found in the likes of white bread and soft drinks are processed quickly by the body.

They will give you a sudden burst of energy followed by a sometimes dramatic crash and slump. That's not great if you're searching for a sustained energy release, and quick release carbs can actually do more harm than good.

Fortunately, the complex carbs in chickpeas are digested slowly and steadily. This leads to a more sustained energy release that lasts much longer. Chickpeas don't cause a sudden blood sugar spike, and nor do they lead to an energy crash. This makes them ideal cycling energy food and a great choice for long distance runners who need ongoing sustenance. Chickpeas are also rich in starch, which is another slow burning energy source.

Better yet, chickpeas are a suitable source of protein for both vegans and vegetarians; which you will already know if you have read our article on the best vegan & vegetarian protein sources

Couple this energy release with chickpea's other myriad health benefits and you're onto a winner. Chickpea's nutty flavour is extremely popular, and they can be consumed roasted, as hummus or as a side dish.

#21 Edamame

edamame energy food for gym

Edamame isn't the most common food around. Unlike mature soy, these beans are harvested when the crop is still young, so they don't harden. This gives them a unique taste all of their own and makes them a fantastic energy giving food. They have a brilliant nutritional profile and are very low in calories.

As such, if you're looking for healthy high energy food and are tired of some of the more common suggestions, edamame may well be for you.

Iron deficiency is one of the main causes of sluggishness and lack of energy. Serious deficiencies can even lead to anaemia, but not having enough iron in your diet will make anybody feel tired and low on energy.

Iron is a crucial building block needed for energy production because it carries oxygenated haemoglobin around the body. Low levels of iron mean that the red blood cells can't transport oxygen anywhere near as efficiently, which leads to massive energy slums.

This is especially pertinent for long distance and endurance athletes. When your muscles are working hard, they burn through huge amounts of energy and require constant, high levels of oxygenation. Alongside spinach and lentils, edamame is one of the best sources of iron available, which makes it a high energy food. A single 100g serving of edamame (cooked) contains 2.3mg of iron, which is a lot by any measure.

Since this only comes with 122 calories, these young beans are an exceptionally healthy choice. They don't contain many carbohydrates, but they do offer plenty of dietary fibre. Throw in a decent serving of protein (11g), and you've got a food that will give you lots of energy and support you through even the most arduous exercise.

#22 Nuts

energy producing food

Nuts are a tasty and convenient snack, but many people don't know that they're also a fantastic food for energy. Nuts are varied and come in many different shapes and sizes. Just how much energy you get depends on which nut you choose, but many people opt for a mix to maximise the effects.

A homemade trail mix is a healthy alternative to shop-bought versions which are often loaded with sugar and other unpleasant additives.

Generally speaking, nuts are calorie dense and packed with carbohydrates, proteins and healthy fats. That makes them an excellent quick energy boost food that can be consumed on the move or even during a workout. Nearly all nuts will give you the carbs your body needs to produce energy, as well as the proteins to make use of it.

While they carry immediate benefits, nuts are also another addition on the list of slow release energy foods as they’re high in both fiber and protein, which increases the amount of time the body takes to digest them.

Almonds and cashews are particularly good high energy foods, but walnuts excel. They contain all the same nutrients as other nuts, along with omega three and omega six. Walnuts are also packed to bursting with antioxidants which, when combined with those omega fatty acids, boost energy levels and soothe inflammation.

Unsure which nuts will benefit you most? We have a guide on the healthiest nuts to add to your diet today to help you decide.

The energy provided by nuts is sustainable due to their high fibre content. That makes them a great pre-workout snack, or just a great way to start a busy day. All nuts contain a host of other vital nutrients including iron (which is essential for oxygen transportation) and manganese (which helps enzymes to convert food into energy). They also pack a good amount of Vitamin B and E which help to reduce fatigue and keep tiredness at bay.

#23 Hummus

what food gives you the most energy 1

Chickpeas have already made an appearance on the list as a quick energy boost food, so it should come as no surprise that hummus is assured of a position too. Hummus might be one of the simplest foods around.

It's easy to prepare and contains just blended chickpeas. Some people choose to add additional flavourings like lemon juice or olive oil, but hummus is certainly one of the easiest recipes you'll find.

It offers many of the same benefits associated with chickpeas and is a great food that gives you energy on the move. Chickpeas contain a high amount of fibre alongside their carbs, which delivers that frequently discussed and all-important sustainable release of energy. They won't cause sudden blood sugar spikes and are perfect if you're after a long lasting boost.

One of the big advantages of hummus over straight chickpeas is how versatile it is. It's easy to pair hummus with other healthy snacks including carrot sticks and apples. The complex carbohydrates in hummus are a fantastic match for the high fibre count in fruits and vegetables. The possibilities are nearly endless, and hummus makes a great mid-morning snack to see you through a slump.

Better still, many of the optional extra ingredients in a hummus recipe are also high-energy. Tahini is often blended into the chickpea mix, and this sesame seed paste is full of healthy fats. These provide more raw materials for energy production and help to moderate the absorption of carbs. Hummus is a great all-round energy food, especially if you pair it with some healthy sides.

#24 Lentils

What foods give you energy

Lentils are a great energy food for quite a few reasons. They're one of the best (not to mention cheapest) protein sources on the list. Protein is essential for muscle synthesis and recovery, and also helps a person build up strength in the long-term. That contributes to overall energy levels and greatly increases fitness. They're a great source of other nutrients too, so they'll leave you feeling healthy.

What elevates lentils into the category of a truly great energy giving food is their high fibre and carbohydrate count. A single cooked serving provides an impressive 36g of carbs. Combine that with a healthy 14g dose of fibre and you've got the best energy food in terms of balance. The carbohydrates will generate energy, while the fibre will moderate how that energy is released and ensure that it's sustainable.

It is not just us who recognise the benefits of lentils either, in fact, they’ve gained mass recognition within many different sporting communities and are even highly advised as part of our cycling nutrition plan.

The advantages stretch still further. Lentils are a fantastic way to top up your body's stores of important energy giving nutrients. A single serving of cooked lentils provides a range of minerals including iron, manganese, folate and zinc. These minerals have an array of health benefits, but they are especially important for energy production. A combination of these vital nutrients helps the body to produce energy on a cellular level and breakdown foods to release energy.

The best thing about lentils is how versatile they are. They're exceptionally easy to incorporate into your diet. Lentil soup is widely popular, tasty and filling. Cooked lentils can also be added to salads or healthy curries if you're feeling particularly adventurous.

#25 Beans

what food gives you energy

There are plenty of different types of bean available. In fact, the varieties number in the hundreds, but they all share a similar nutritional profile. Whatever form you choose will make for good natural energy foods that are also low in fat and generally healthy.

Beans are excellent energy food sources because they don't just provide energy, but they keep you feeling full for much longer. That's due to their high fibre content, and it makes them an excellent energy food for anyone on a diet.

All beans provide slow release energy, which stabilises blood sugar levels and ensures that your energy levels remain sustainable. They offer an optimum combination of carbs and fibre. The body burns carbs to produce energy, while the high-fibre content ensures that the energy is released slowly and without any subsequent crashes. Beans are also rich in protein, which has plenty of benefits for the muscles.

Although any type of bean will give you energy, black beans and black eyed peas are probably the best. Alongside antioxidants and a high fibre content, these beans also contain large amounts of folic acid, magnesium and iron. Iron is especially important, as it helps red blood cells to deliver energy around the body. It's crucial during a long work out, when muscles will become tired quickly. Magnesium and folic acid are important too, and have a role to play in energy production.

Due to the sheer number of different types of bean available, this is perhaps the most versatile energy food on the list. Beans can be incorporated into everything from on the go snacks to a salad or even something like a curry. They're simple, cheap, and easy to prepare.

Animal Products

#26 Greek Yoghurt

Healthy foods that give you energy 1

Greek yoghurt might not be the first thing that springs to mind when you think of food for energy. In fact, yoghurts sometimes have a reputation for being quite unhealthy. While this is true for many types of yoghurt, which are often full of sugar and other unpleasant additives.

Greek yoghurt is a different proposition entirely. It undergoes an extra step in the production process that removes many of those undesirable ingredients. What's left behind are good carbs, far less sugar and that distinctive, slightly tart taste.

The added step also makes Greek yoghurt one of the best energy food sources around. A single cup of plain Greek yoghurt is packed to bursting with protein. Just one serving can contain anywhere between 1.2g to a staggering 7.3g of protein.

At that level, you're even starting to rival commercially available protein shakes. This high protein count makes Greek yoghurt popular with athletes and bodybuilders around the world and can also be found in OriGym’s shortlist of the best high protein yoghurts of 2021.

Protein is essential for the production and release of energy. It plays a crucial role in how substances, including oxygen, are transferred to individual cells. The oxygenation of muscles is one of the key determinants of energy and helps everybody from long distance runners to cyclists push harder and for longer. If you're looking for a quality energy -boosting food then you can't do much better than Greek yoghurt.

Of course, routinely upping your protein intake will give you much more than just a one-off burst of energy. Protein synthesis is a crucial component in muscle growth, which will make you stronger in the long run. This, in turn, means increased endurance. Greek yoghurt isn't just a food that gives you energy in one-off hits, but one that can make a genuine, long-lasting difference to your stamina levels.

#27 Cottage Cheese

cottage cheese energy food before workout

Another addition which might seem unusual, cottage cheese has some distinctly unhealthy connotations, although most of those only apply if it's consumed in excess. Cottage cheese certainly isn't a low fat energy food, but it is an efficient one. Indeed, cottage cheese (especially when paired with healthy snacks like oatcakes or fruit slices) is a great food to eat for energy.

Cottage cheese is full to bursting with Vitamin B12, which gives it its energy boosting credentials that rate it as one of the best vitamins for energy. When you wonder what food gives you energy, it's important to consider the organic compounds within the food. Vitamin B12 plays a crucial role in how energy is metabolised on a cellular level. One of the first symptoms of Vitamin B12 deficiency is a drop in energy and a general feeling of fatigue.

Vitamin B12 supplements have long been popular amongst athletes in search of an energy release, and since they help the body to produce its own energy rather than delivering artificial highs, they are a safe and sustainable option. The high Vitamin B12 content of cottage cheese makes it a great (not to mention tasty!) way to top up your levels and help your body produce energy.

Cottage cheese is wonderfully versatile, too. It can be paired with other energy enhancing foodstuffs like oatcakes, or spread over slices of melon for a delicious, refreshing and high energy bite. Of course, cottage cheese is higher in fat than some of the other entries on the list, so it should always be consumed in moderation. 

#28 Chicken

chicken Foods to give you energy

Widely regarded as the healthiest of all the meats, chicken has always been a favourite amongst athletes for its low fat content and high protein count. It should come as no surprise, then, that chicken landed itself a place on our shortlist of the best foods that boost energy.

Intriguingly, chicken contains no carbs, which might seem counterintuitive. A low carb count wouldn't normally be associated with an energy food, but chicken makes up for that deficit in other areas.

Chicken is particularly rich in B vitamins. While these don't necessarily provide energy, they do play a crucial role in how your body converts food into energy reserves. Those suffering from a Vitamin B deficiency will often feel sluggish and tired. That's because the body can't metabolise energy as easily. Fortunately, chicken contains around a third of your daily recommended allowance of Vitamin B6, so it provides one of the all important building blocks of energy production.

Moreover, chicken contains a good portion of your daily iron requirement. Iron helps red blood cells carry oxygen and distribute it evenly around the body, delivering energy. Red meat is a better source, but much unhealthier in other areas. An iron deficiency is well known to cause fatigue, so it's always a good idea to stay topped up, especially if you're planning a long distance run.

Chicken contains all the crucial building blocks of energy including potassium and magnesium. The former is required by the body to make energy and it also supports the heart, making you feel stronger. Magnesium is another component in energy production, and it's a mineral that many people are deficient in. Chicken might not contain the huge amount of carbs common to other energy food sources, but it does offer the raw building blocks required to produce energy.

#29 Beef Liver

energy food for gym

Red meat certainly has a bad reputation, which is partly justified. Excessive consumption of meats like beef and lamb has been linked to raised blood pressure, high cholesterol and an increased risk of heart disease. There's no doubt that consuming vast quantities of beef, especially when it's been prepared unhealthily, is bad for you. Nonetheless, beef liver amongst the most fantastic energy boosting foods when eaten in moderation.

Red meat isn't all bad, either. It contains a great deal of iron, protein, zinc and Vitamin B12. All of these are good for you, and many bodybuilders choose red meat as a way to increase their protein count. When it comes to the best energy food, however, liver is what that you should be looking for. 

Beef liver is a great food that gives you energy. It contains a boggling 80% of your recommended daily allowance of iron, which carries oxygenated blood around the body, delivering energy. Best of all, the iron in beef liver is heme iron, which is more easily absorbed. That means that it gets to work quickly and you'll feel the benefits much sooner. Beef liver also contains a great deal of copper, which helps with iron metabolization and speeds up the process of energy production still further.

It delivers a huge amount of Vitamin B12, Vitamin A and riboflavin too. The latter is one of the rarer additions to this list, but it plays an important role in how food is synthesised into energy. Beef liver might even give you a mental boost as well, due to its choline density. Choline boosts brain and cognitive function and can make you feel more alert. All in all, beef liver is one of the most energy dense foods around, and shouldn't be overlooked.

#30 Fatty Fish

fatty healthy food for energy

Fatty fish includes the likes of tuna and salmon. These fish make an excellent healthy high energy food, and generally a great addition to your diet. They all share a high omega-3 content, which has benefits for heart health and overall wellbeing. Omega-3s are some of the healthiest nutrients around and are often recommended as dietary supplements.

That high omega-3 content is enough to make fatty fish a great entry into energy boosting foods. Omega-3s are linked to lower levels of body fat and decreased inflammation. Both of these factors have a part to play in energy levels, especially the latter. Inflammation of the joints and muscles can be seriously energy sapping, slowing you down or stopping you altogether. Of course, an excess of body fat will have a similar effect, so omega-3 oils are a great way to boost your base energy levels.

Mackerel, herring and other fatty fish all have wonderful nutritional profiles. Most of those nutrients are linked to energy production, making these fish a great food to eat for energy. They're exceptionally rich in Vitamin B, which is known to increase energy levels. They also contain a complete source of protein, which is crucial for muscle development, maintenance and overall fitness.

Our report that explores the FAQ of is tuna good for you?’ gives you an in depth look into the benefits of tuna and compares the nutrition between fresh and canned fish.

The advantages don't end there either. Fatty fish contain many other crucial building blocks for energy production. These include minerals like magnesium and potassium, as well as Vitamin D. Food sources rich in Vitamin D are comparatively hard to find, even though the vitamin is essential.

#31 Oysters

food to boost energy

Oysters are considered a delicacy by many, and they're also a great food for energy. They might not top the list of foods that spring to mind when you think 'what food gives you the most energy?', but they're remarkably effective. They can be an acquired taste, but if you're an oyster fan you'll be able to reap those energy boosting rewards quite easily.

The big news with oysters is their high Vitamin B12 content. Vitamin B12 is one of the building blocks. It helps the body produce energy, and some studies estimate that up to 40% of the population are Vitamin B12 deficient. This energy sapping deficiency leads to fatigue, grogginess and weakness. Even if you aren't deficient, there's no harm in upping your Vitamin B12 intake, which will help your body deliver energy when it needs it most.

Oysters are full of other energy giving nutrients too. They're particularly iron rich, which is important. Iron helps the body transport oxygen in the blood, delivering it to your muscles. This is especially useful during vigorous exercise, when oxygen stocks quickly deplete. Iron is essential for replenishing those stocks, and that makes oysters a great energy food for running, especially over long distances. Consume them beforehand and you'll be good to go.

Combine these energy giving benefits with the other positive effects of oysters, and it's safe to say that they're one of the healthiest foods around. Oysters are great for bone health, the cardiovascular system, brain function and even your skin. They've been shown to lower blood pressure, which will give you more energy in the long run.

#32 Eggs

eggs good food for energy

The old adage that there's a meal in an egg certainly rings true in regards to energy. Eggs are a fantastic (if unlikely) high energy food that will set you up for the day and keep you feeling energised through a lengthy workout. There's a reason that so many athletes and bodybuilders swear by drinking a raw egg smoothie to start their day, but you don't need to take things to quite that level to reap the many energy generating rewards of eggs. 

Eggs are full of protein, which puts them high on any list of energy food sources. Protein helps a person grow stronger, exercise more and generally improve their fitness. Better still, eggs are full of choline, which can give a mental and physical boost. If you choose organic eggs, you'll also get a good dose of omega three oil, which is great for energy and supporting muscle development. 

One of the most popular energy snacks amongst runners and endurance athletes is an egg paired with a carbohydrate source like fruit. The easily digestible carbs in the fruit pair wonderfully with the protein in the egg to give a sustained and long-term energy boost. Nuts are another great accompaniment since they will give you a welcome top-up of fibre.

Eggs are, of course, an extremely versatile food, but there are still a few things to bear in mind. A boiled egg is your best bet, as you'll get all the energy benefits of the egg without any additional fat from frying. Pairing an egg with vegetables or mushrooms in an omelette is another great option, but it's important to think about your frying oil. An unhealthy oil offsets all the benefits of the egg, so it's worth using a healthy alternative like rapeseed or even avocado oil.

Interested in learning more? Check out our article that covers the health benefits of eating eggs in more detail. 


#33 Coffee

coffee Healthy foods that give you energy

Coffee might be the most well-known high energy food in the world. It's the drink of choice for people who want to wake up fast in the morning or give themselves a quick lift over the course of the day. Coffee makes an appearance in plenty of energy drinks and its energy boosting credentials are famous.

As most people know, coffee is a food that gives you energy due to its high caffeine content. Caffeine is a potent stimulant which is quickly absorbed into the blood after you drink it. Once in the bloodstream, it's transported to the brain where it gets to work on neurotransmitters. It increases the number of energising chemicals in the brain including dopamine and norepinephrine.

While the other additions to the list might give you physical energy, coffee is famed for its mental edge too. It can dramatically improve brain function, leading to increased levels of alertness and concentration. Coffee will, of course, make you feel more energised before a workout, but that mental edge shouldn't be underestimated either. That's why coffee is so popular.

Caffeine does have a number of downsides, though. Excessive consumption can have negative effects. These might include restlessness, tremors, increased heart rate and, in some cases, anxiety. Coffee should always be consumed in moderation.

 The energy release offered by caffeine is quite dramatic, but can be short lived and followed by a slump. That's why fibre is so important, and why some of the best energy foods on the list are fibre dense, however you can find alternatives, or at least lower-caffeinated options in our list of the best natural energy drinks.

#34 Green Tea

energy food before workout

The health benefits of green tea are so frequently touted that this drink can sometimes seem magical! It's associated with everything from a longer life to better skin, with countless other health benefits in between.

You'll often find it included in energy drinks and supplements, where it's chosen as a healthier and safer alternative to caffeine. It's without doubt one of the most effective high energy foods in a hurry, and probably the best food to give you energy if you're allergic to, or simply want to avoid, caffeine.

The unique selling point of green tea is its L-theanine content. L-theanine is a compound that mimics the effects of caffeine (increased energy and alertness) but without any of the unpleasant side-effects. Caffeine is certainly effective but it does come with jitters, crashes, and even feelings of anxiety. L-theanine doesn't have any of these side-effects, which is why green tea is often considered the best food to give you energy without a crash.

Aside from the L-theanine, green tea has a host of other benefits to its name. It's one of the most antioxidant dense foodstuffs you can find, and those antioxidants are both powerful and highly concentrated. That means that you won't have to worry about oxidative stress on your muscles. Antioxidants can also prevent inflammation, especially when consumed in the quantities found in green tea.

For an in depth guide on green tea, including its benefits, side effects and dosage, make sure to read our full article.

Nothing saps energy as much as inflamed or sore muscles. Cramps are enough to slow down any athlete, which is why green tea is so popular as an energy supplement. It's widely considered the best running and cycling energy food, and is favoured by endurance athletes around the world. It's a safe, gentle and effective alternative to caffeine heavy energy drinks.

#35 Water

energy producing food water

It might not be the most inspiring choice on the list, but simply drinking water can be enough to give you an energy boost. Water is vital for bodily maintenance, and it plays a crucial role in a whole host of metabolic processes.

When we start to get dehydrated those processes slow, leaving us feeling sluggish and low on energy. Replenishing water stocks is the best way to overcome these slumps and keep yourself feeling energised for longer.

Water might be the best food for energy in the world. It plays a role in just about every single biological process, and without it we wouldn't be able to sustain life. Energy production is no exception. When energy is produced on a molecular level, water plays a vital role in the process. It's also needed to hydrate your muscles and keep you feeling mentally sharp.

Few people consume enough water, and that's especially dangerous during exercise. As water is lost through perspiration, it becomes more important than ever to drink and replenish those supplies. Failure to do so will not only leave you feeling low on energy but dehydrated and exhausted. It will also increase your risk of developing muscle cramps and injuries.

Generally speaking, you should drink water even when you're not feeling thirsty. Without adequate supplies of water, it becomes more difficult to extract energy from food. If you increase your daily water intake, you will likely experience a tangible energy difference straight away, making drinking one of the easiest routes to more energy.


#36 Dark Chocolate

dark chocolate what food gives you energy

A guilty pleasure for many, it's hard to imagine that chocolate can be good for you. Most of the negative effects of chocolate, however, are associated with heavily produced brands loaded with additional sugars, additives and dairy. Simple dark chocolate (the darker the better) can actually have an array of health benefits and makes for one of the best foods that boost energy.

The main difference between dark and regular chocolate is the cocoa content. Dark chocolate simply contains much more cocoa than the more widely available milk variety. Cocoa is loaded with antioxidants, which are known to yield a wide range of positive effects. In fact, you'll often find antioxidants advertised on all kinds of health products and drinks.

Those antioxidants are the reason that dark chocolate falls into the category of energy boosting foods. Antioxidants facilitate blood flow, which means that oxygen reaches your muscles and brain much more quickly and vastly increases their function. Heightened blood flow also reduces muscle fatigue the next day and shortens your recovery time, which is great for athletes who are in training.

If you’re looking for quick energy foods before workout, you can't go far wrong with dark chocolate, hence it being a prominent ingredient in many of the options on the best energy bars to boost your workout shortlist.

 Not only does it boost blood flow, but it's full of stimulants including caffeine and theobromine. These compounds give you more energy, and they've been proven to provide a mental boost too. That's great for endurance athletes who push through psychological barriers just as often as physical ones. Dark chocolate can heighten alertness, concentration and reaction times.

#37 Honey

what food gives you energy  1

Honey is one of the most popular natural energy foods there is. It's widely available in shots, energy drinks, and is frequently added to energy bars. It's widely touted as one of the best fuels for runners, and potentially even the best energy food for running available. It also happens to be one of the oldest high energy foods and was consumed by Olympians in ancient Greece!

With such a storied history it's no surprise that honey is hitting the headlines as an energy food all over again. Honey is around 80% sugar, roughly 70% of which is glucose or fructose. The exact balance of the two depends on the honey, but these sugars do have different absorption rates. Glucose is absorbed quite quickly, whereas fructose takes longer and is preferred by endurance athletes.

Honey contains much the same amount of carbohydrate as a standard carbohydrate gel or energy drink, just minus the additional additives. It also takes roughly the same time to get to work on your muscles (about 15 minutes). Studies suggest that endurance athletes need around 30-60g of carbohydrate per hour, which equates to roughly 2-3 tablespoons of honey. Honey is absorbed extremely effectively into the bloodstream, and increasing numbers of athletes use it as a substitute for more traditional gels and drinks.

One of the biggest benefits of honey is the myriad of ways that it can be incorporated into your diet. Honey tastes great with fruit, can be added to smoothies, porridge, or simply spread over toast. You'll often find it included in energy bars too. However you choose to consume it, there's no doubt that it's a great food to eat for energy.

Foods to Avoid

While most foods provide energy, the ones in our high-energy foods shortlist focus on sustained energy.

Generally, having a meal or snack tends to refuel your tank, helping you feel more energetic. However, some foods may actually damage your energy levels.

Foods to try to avoid may include:

  • Processed Grains - such as those found in white bread, white pasta and white rice.
  • Alcohol - alcohol is notable for it's relaxing effects and overall energy-draining results.
  • Excess amounts of caffeine - despite its presence on our list, too much caffeine can actually deplete energy levels in the long term.
  • High sugar foods/added sugars - High sugar foods can cause a spike in your blood sugar which causes your body to release too much insulin. The surplus insulin then creates a dip in blood sugar levels known as a "sugar crash". These may appear in the form of chocolate, baked goods and other packaged snacks
  • Fried and Fast Foods - food in this category is generally high in fat and low in fiber, two factors which can slow down your digestion; which in turn can reduce the speed at which energy-boosting nutrients enter the body, and therefore delaying the increase in energy you might generally expect following a meal.


As you can see, there are an abundant variety of foods that boost your energy.

Whether you're looking for a quick fix in products packed with carbs for readily available energy, or long-lasting energy in fiber and protein for a slower release, all of the options in this list can help increase your energy, as well as stamina.

Additionally, many of the mentioned options contain significant amount of other nutrients, including antioxidants, vitamins and minerals - so not only will they benefit your enegetic output, but they offer advantages to your overall health, too.

Before you go, you should check out OriGym’s level 4 advanced sports nutrition course as you can learn a lot more about health and nutrition! Don’t forget to download or FREE course prospectus too for more information about all our courses and diplomas.

Written by Annie Williams

Fitness Content Executive, OriGym

Join Annie on Facebook at the OriGym Facebook Group

Graduating from Liverpool John Moores University with a BA (Hons) in Journalism, Annie specialises in mental and physical wellbeing, with a specific interest in nutrition and mindfulness. Her long standing interest in fitness is what brought her to OriGym, and led her to become a qualified Personal Trainer and obtain specialist qualifications in Advanced Sports Nutrition. Annie’s primary professional attraction lies in following and tracking the ever-changing trends in the fitness industry. Beyond OriGym, Annie divides her time between personal writing, her passion for the countryside and mountain walking, and charitable runs.

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