8 Energy Boosting Foods

Next time you're dragging, put down the coffee and pick up one of these foods as an alternative way to get a healthy, natural energy boost.

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Lemon water

Lemon water
The simplest way to get a boost, ever! Adding lemon to water transforms regular H20 into a natural energy drink that is packed with electrolytes, which are critical for cells to produce energy. Hydration in general is key for a mood boost; a 2012 study found that women who were mildly dehydrated reported feeling fatigued.

Fresh fruit

Fresh fruit
The natural sugar in fruit provides a quick pick-me-up when you're dragging and helps keep blood sugar levels steady because it's packed with fiber. Make an energizing breakfast smoothie with blueberries (helps you focus), strawberries (high in vitamin C, which helps turn fat to energy) and yogurt (rich in magnesium, which helps regulate the release of energy). Or toss in a tropical fruit like pineapple, which contains iodine to help control how quickly your body burns energy. Not a smoothie person? Fruits with peels, like bananas or apples, are good choices to take to work or when you're on the go. 

Nuts

Nuts
Cashews, almonds, and hazelnuts are high in magnesium, which plays a key role in converting sugar to energy. They're also filled with fiber to keep your blood sugar levels even and protein to stave off hunger. Keep a bag of mixed nuts or trail mix in your purse or desk drawer to stay energetic all day.

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Dark chocolate

Dark chocolate
Nibbling a square of dark chocolate as a post-lunch dessert is good for you. It contains the natural stimulant theobromine, similar to caffeine, which boosts your energy and your mood.

Whole-grain toast

Whole-grain toast
Carbohydrates provide 60 percent of the energy required to make your body go, and whole grains are packed with complex carbs (the good kind!), which are full of vitamins and minerals. Eating whole grains can prevent a surge in blood sugar after your next meal, according to a study in the Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism, which means fewer energy crashes than when you eat refined carbohydrates in sugary or heavily processed snacks. Start your day with oatmeal or a high-fiber cereal to stay full until lunch, or snack on whole-grain crackers or granola bars for an afternoon boost.

Cardamom

Cardamom
In Asia, this spice is valued for its ability to increase energy and promote blood flow by expanding small blood vessels. Choose curry for dinner, or sip a cup of chai tea to beat the afternoon slump.

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Asparagus

Asparagus Thinkstock
This green veggie is high in B vitamins, which naturally support healthy energy levels by turning food (carbs) into fuel (glucose), and it contains plenty of blood sugar-steadying fiber. If it's in season, add asparagus to your salad at lunch to help get you through the afternoon.

Sauerkraut

Sauerkraut
Raw sauerkraut isn't just a good match for bratwurst; it also helps you maintain energy. The fermented cabbage is high in probiotics, which makes your gut digest food more efficiently. So, since the body has to work less to digest, you're left with more energy. Kimchi, the spicy fermented cabbage popular in Korean cuisine, also does the trick. Craving a street cart hot dog? Top it with sauerkraut for an easy energy boost.

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