10 High-Energy Foods You’ll Want to Add to Your Diet for a Quick Pick-Me-Up

Updated: Nov. 08, 2019

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

lemons on a wood table next to a glass of water with lemon slice and mint

Lemon water

The simplest way to get a boost, ever. This one is low-calorie, so it’s not an energy-boost like the type you get from eating food. But adding lemon to water transforms regular H20 into a natural energy drink that has electrolytes, which are critical for cells to produce energy. Hydration, in general, is key for a mood boost; a 2018 study found that even mild dehydration can cause motor skills to lag during high-heat exercise, according to research published in the journal Physiological Reports. Drinking lemon water for health is part of traditional Ayurveda. Read up on the other health benefits of drinking lemon water.

different types of berries in baskets
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Fresh fruit

The natural sugar in fruit makes it one of the many natural energy boosters. It 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.  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.

assortment of nuts
Krzysztof Slusarczyk


Cashews, almonds, and hazelnuts are high in magnesium, which plays a key role in converting sugar to energy, according to the nutrition experts at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). They’re also filled with fiber to keep your blood sugar levels even and protein to stave off hunger. Their high fat content can keep you satisfied but also comes with a caloric cost. Keep a bag of mixed nuts or trail mix in your purse or desk drawer and snack judiciously to stay energetic all day. Try working these eating habits into your daily schedule for more energy.

Dark chocolate

collection of dark chocolate squares
Avdeyukphoto/ShutterstockNibbling a square of dark chocolate as a post-lunch dessert may taste good and be good for you. It delivers calories and contains the natural stimulant theobromine, according to research published in the journal Frontiers in Pharmacology. similar to caffeine, which boosts your energy and your mood. These are the high-energy foods that dietitians eat.

collection of whole grain breads and wheat stems

Whole-grain toast

Eating whole grains can provide fiber that helps prevent a surge in blood sugar after your next meal, according to the Harvard School of Public Health. That 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.

asparagus tips on a grill


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, report nutrition experts at the Harvard School of Public Health. If it’s in season, add asparagus to your salad at lunch to help get you through the afternoon. This is why asparagus makes your pee smell funny.

Top view of brown ceramic bowl of sauerkraut with chopped cabbage and carrot on grey towel sitting on white table surface


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 (here are some other foods that are high in probiotics). 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.

wooden bowl full of seasoned brown rice

Brown Rice

Brown rice is one of our favorite high-energy foods because it is rich in manganese, which helps your body produce energy from proteins and carbs, according to the NIH. It will help you feel motivated and full of energy all day.

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Djero Adlibeshe/Shutterstock


Spinach is a great source of iron—and that’s vital to maintaining your energy levels, reports the Mayo Clinic. When you’re low in iron, your red blood cells won’t produce enough of a key substance they need to transport oxygen to your muscles, organs, and other tissues; that will rob you of energy. Here are some more amazing health benefits of spinach. Add the nutritious green leaves to your morning omelet or smoothie to feel energized all day long.