Top 12 Foods High in Energy to Keep You Going Through the Day

Photo of Daisy Whitbread Written by Daisy Whitbread
BSc (Hons) MSc DipION
Photo of Dr. Nicolette Natale Medically Reviewed by
Dr. Nicolette Natale
Evidence Based. References sourced from PubMed.
Top 12 Foods High in Energy to Keep You Going Through the Day

One of the best ways to lead a healthy lifestyle and maintain a healthy weight is to eat food that sustains your energy levels throughout the day. The following list gives you 12 common foods that have been chosen for their ability to provide the body with energy.

Some of the foods provide slow-releasing energy from healthy carbohydrates and healthy fats. Others contain a range of important vitamins and minerals involved in cellular energy production processes in the body.

Good quality protein sources are also included, as these are needed for maintaining body tissues, including muscle.

Tips for Increasing and Maintaining Energy Levels Throughout the Day

  • Maintain Balanced Blood Sugar Levels - The energy from a well-balanced meal can last for up to 4 hours, so ideally you don't want to go longer than this without eating. This means having 3 meals and 2 to 3 snacks spread out evenly over the day. (16)
  • Avoid High Sugar Foods - Refined high-sugar foods may give the illusion of increased energy in the short term, but are associated with irritability and fatigue an hour later. Taking a walk or exercising (even briefly) is a better way to relieve stress and maintain energy levels. (17)
  • Choose the right combination of foods for your meals - The best combination for sustained energy that will last the full 4 hours is low GI carbohydrates combined with protein. Low GI carbohydrates release their energy slowly and gradually into the bloodstream. (18) They include sweet potatoes and whole-grains such as oats, brown rice, and whole-wheat bread. Beans and lentils are great as they contain low GI carbohydrates and protein packaged conveniently together. Other good sources of protein include fish, chicken, lean meat, tofu, yogurt, nuts, and seeds.
  • Include some healthy sources of fat - Fats such as olive oil, nuts, and oily fish, will help you feel full and keep you from over-snacking. (19)

Data Sources and References

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  6. Seino Y, Iizuka K, Suzuki A. Associations Between Fruit Intake and Risk of Diabetes in the AusDiab Cohort J Diabetes Investig. 2021 Oct;12(10):1759-1761. doi: 10.1111/jdi.13639. Epub 2021 Sep 9. 34318628
  7. Camfield DA, Stough C, Farrimond J, Scholey AB. Green tea effects on cognition, mood and human brain function: A systematic review Nutr Rev. 2014 Aug;72(8):507-22. doi: 10.1111/nure.12120. Epub 2014 Jun 19. 24946991
  8. Kono S, Shinchi K, Wakabayashi K, Honjo S, Todoroki I, Sakurai Y, Imanishi K, Nishikawa H, Ogawa S, Katsurada M. Green tea consumption and serum lipids and lipoproteins in a population of healthy workers in Japan J Epidemiol. 1996 Sep;6(3):128-33. doi: 10.2188/jea.6.128. 8952216
  9. Wimmer JLE, Xavier JC, Vieira ADN, Pereira DPH, Leidner J, Sousa FL, Kleinermanns K, Preiner M, Martin WF. On the potential roles of phosphorus in the early evolution of energy metabolism Front Microbiol. 2021 Dec 13;12:793664. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2021.793664. eCollection 2021. 34966373
  10. Lerchbaum E. Vitamin D and Its Role on the Fatigue Mitigation: A Narrative Review Maturitas. 2014 Sep;79(1):3-7. doi: 10.1016/j.maturitas.2014.06.003. Epub 2014 Jun 13. 24993517
  11. Kuczera P, Adamczak M, Wiecek A. Review: The role of zinc in the endocrine system Pril (Makedon Akad Nauk Umet Odd Med Nauki). 2015;36(2):109-18. doi: 10.1515/prilozi-2015-0059. 27442377
  12. Nowak G, Szewczyk B. Role of zinc in the development and treatment of mood disorders Pol J Pharmacol. 2002 Nov-Dec;54(6):587-92. 12866713
  13. Reddy SS, Addi UR, Pullakhandam R, Reddy GB. Zinc at the crossroads of exercise and proteostasis Nutrition. 2022 Jun;98:111625. doi: 10.1016/j.nut.2022.111625. Epub 2022 Feb 9. 35439650
  14. García-Gamboa R, Díaz-Torres O, Senés-Guerrero C, Gradilla-Hernández MS, Moya A, Pérez-Brocal V, Garcia-Gonzalez A, González-Avila M. Trait Energy and Fatigue May Be Connected to Gut Bacteria among Young Physically Active Adults: An Exploratory Study Sci Rep. 2024 Mar 8;14(1):5703. doi: 10.1038/s41598-024-54782-7. 38459054
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