Without caffeine, it can be difficult to get an energy boost throughout the day. Superfoods offer natural energy boosts for sustained energy throughout the day. Incorporating these foods into your diet could increase your energy levels.
Let’s take a look at five superfoods and the energy benefits they offer.
What defines a superfood?
Superfoods are a category of foods that are rich with nutrients, such as antioxidants, minerals and vitamins. They are often also packed with fiber, protein and healthy fats.
“Superfoods help promote health by increasing your immune function and decreasing your chance of disease prevention or progression,” registered dietitian Beth Czerwony told the Cleveland Health Clinic.
1. Bananas provide energy for endurance sports
Bananas are packed with fiber, potassium, vitamins and carbohydrates, which make them a perfect natural energy booster, reports Healthline.
A study published in the journal PLoS One compared a single banana to a carbohydrate sports drinks for cyclists participating in a long bicycle ride. Researchers noted that the banana provided as much fuel for performance and endurance to the riders as the drink.
“In general, ingestion of bananas before and during prolonged and intensive exercise is an effective strategy, both in terms of fuel substrate utilization and cost, for supporting performance,” per the study.
2. Chia seeds are rich with natural energy
Chia seeds are considered a superfood due to their excellent nutritional value. Chia seeds are rich with fiber, protein, zinc, phosphorus, omega-3 fatty acids and calcium, per Harvard Health. They are a considered a complete protein, containing all nine essential amino acids, which cannot be created by the body. Due to excellent nutritional value, chia seeds offer natural energy.
A small 2011 study asked six endurance athletes to incorporate chia seeds into their diet. Researchers note that chia seeds are a viable option for enhancing sports performance. For endurance events lasting longer than 90 minutes, chia seeds offer as much energy as a carbohydrate sports drink.
3. Eggs are rich with protein for an energy boost
Eggs are protein-packed and contain vitamins and minerals essential to a healthy, balanced diet, reports Medical News Today. Due to the high amount of protein in eggs, they can keep a person full, and efficiently fuel for long periods of time.
Researchers Drs. Donald K. Layman and Nancy R. Rodriguez reviewed 25 studies on protein, they noted that eggs are valuable for muscle strength and an excellent source of sustained energy, according to Medical News Today.
Eggs do not cause “surges in blood sugar and insulin,” because the protein in eggs offers a steady source of energy.
In addition to protein, eggs are rich with nutrients such as riboflavin and thiamin as well as vitamins B12 and B6, all of which are essential to energy production, per Medical News Today.
They are also a great food for men and women participating in endurance training.
“Given the unique complementary relationship between the EAA (essential amino acid) leucine and glucose utilization by muscle, it would follow that a diet rich in the amino acid leucine would be advantageous to men and women undergoing endurance training,” Layman and Rodriguez said of eggs, per Medical News Today
4. Goji berries
Goji berries are relatively underrated, but they are packed with antioxidants and offer loads of health benefits and natural energy.
“Goji berries have shown multiple pharmacological activities, including anti-aging, antioxidative, anti-fatigue, anticancer, anti-diabetic, anti-viral, hepatoprotective, cardioprotective, neuroprotective, hypolipidemic, radioprotective, anti-osteoporosis, anti-inflammatory, and immunomodulating effects,” suggests a 2015 study.
A 2008 study found that individuals who drank goji berry juice for two weeks reported increased ratings for energy levels, ease of waking, athletic performance, ability to focus on activities, mental acuity and decreased fatigue and stress.
Goji and other berries are a good option when you are craving something sweet that will not result in an energy crash because they have natural sugars, reports Healthline.
5. Dark chocolate boosts alertness
Eating dark chocolate is a simple way to increase energy. Dark chocolate with high cocoa percentages typically has far less sugar than milk chocolate and contains more benefits from cocoa, such as antioxidants, according to Medical News Today.
A study published in the journal Archives of the Turkish Society of Cardiology claims dark chocolate could benefit the cardiovascular system by helping pump more blood throughout the body. This blood carries more oxygen around the body, leading a person to feel more alert and awake.
Dark chocolate may also help improve concentration and memory, and increase cognitive function and neuroplasticity in young adults, according to a 2020 study.
“Short and middle-term effects of daily cocoa intake may provide young adults with a better cognitive performance in verbal learning, memory, and attention favoring academic achievement,” reports the study.