3 Incredibly Easy Ways to Boost Your Energy With Food

According to a registered dietitian, these simple food swaps and lifestyle changes can amp your energy levels.

energy-through-food: smoothie bowl with fruit
Photo: Getty Images

Ask any nutrition professional or doctor and they'll tell you that our energy level is determined by endless variables inside and outside our control (like genetics and age). Sleep is one of the most important factors for boosting our body's energy stores that we can affect, and food plays a big role, too.

There are a handful of eating habits (and nutrients) that can boost our energy level—as well as ways we're unknowingly slowing ourselves down. Samantha Cassetty, MS, RD, helped us determine simple steps to feel more energetic, improve our digestion, and optimize our overall health. The good news? All three of her recommendations are incredibly easy. Happy snacking!

The Best Eating Habits for Boosting Energy

01 of 03

Eat a balanced breakfast.

Spring Greens Tartine With Prosciutto, Fontina, and a Fried Egg
GREG DUPREE

Skipping breakfast or having an unbalanced, carb-rich meal in the morning can ultimately lead to feeling seriously sluggish. Why? "Because your body naturally breaks down muscle tissue at night, and if you aren't rebuilding muscle tissue by supplying the building blocks at breakfast, your digestion and energy can start to slow down," says Cassetty.

If you routinely reach for avocado toast—which, while delicious and nutritious, lacks adequate protein—add on poached eggs, smoked salmon, or mashed beans (like Hummus and cucumber toast) to activate the muscle-rebuilding phase. You'll feel fuller for longer, too; so you say goodbye to that mid-morning stomach grumble.

RELATED: 5 High-Protein Breakfasts to Keep You Going All Morning

02 of 03

Stop snacking before bed.

woman with insomnia sitting up in bed at night
The Problem:Can't remember a time when you didn't have trouble sleeping? You take longer than an hour to fall asleep, wake several times throughout the night, and stay awake for anywhere from a few minutes to an hour each time. Sleep medications help to some degree, but leave you feeling drowsy the next day. You’ve tried every trick in the book: yoga, doing vigorous exercise earlier in the day, avoiding caffeine, and reading or writing in a journal before bed. No luck.How to Fix It: Pay even more attention to your evening routine and sleep environment. "Good sleep habits don't necessarily solve sleep problems, but they do create a foundation for improved sleep," says Dr. Neubauer. Good habits include things such as keeping the bedroom cool and dark, using a fan or a white-noise machine to create a blanket of sound, and using the bed exclusively as a place for sleeping―and not for watching TV or working, for example. Make an appointment at a sleep clinic. This is a smart step for people with a long history of sleep issues. Most often this involves office visits (which will not necessarily be overnight observations), during which the patient will undergo a physical examination and work with a doctor to assess and diagnose the cause of the sleep problems. (For more information or to locate a sleep specialist near you, go to the website of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, at aasmnet.org.)RELATED:5 Things You Should Never Do Before Going to Bed. Adene Sanchez/Getty Images

If you're eating too late at night, it might be interfering with your sleep, and that can wreak havoc on your appetite hormones and ultimately, your body's metabolic processes.

If you're constantly hungry at night, it might be that your dinner is too light; or you may be eating for other reasons (like boredom or out of habit). To remedy this, shut down the kitchen at least two hours before you go to bed. Coupled with other healthy sleep habits, this can help optimize your energy level.

RELATED: 10 Foods That Are Sabotaging Your Sleep

03 of 03

Have it homemade.

young girl on the kitchen counter smiling while mom cooks
Getty Images

Cooking can sometimes feel overwhelming—and at the end of a long day, it's often the last thing you want to do. As a result, we too often turn to overly processed convenience foods.

Your body is designed to digest and metabolize food to get the energy it needs. If you're routinely eating highly processed foods over whole foods, you're shortchanging this process, making you feel lethargic and low in energy. Cooking can be therapeutic and is a great way to bond with loved ones, too.

RELATED: 35 Quick and Easy Recipes to Make for Dinner

The Best Snacks for Boosting Energy

The best snacks are made with whole-food ingredients like Greek yogurt, eggs, nuts, seeds, olives, fruits, and veggies. These foods provide all the raw materials your body needs to sleep better, optimize digestion, and nourish your body and brain. Plus, they provide a steady stream of energy for busy days.

Make your own quick snack recipes from scratch, like No-bake seed and nut bars that have over 6 grams of protein plus 4 grams of fiber with all natural ingredients. Whipping up some wholesome homemade snacks when you have a little time can keep you sane and healthy down the line, and help you resist heavily processed foods that are too easy to grab. Also, planning meals in advance is a great way to keep healthful whole foods available, which helps you drastically cut back on the heavily processed stuff.

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