Waking up in the morning is rarely — if ever — an easy task. Some of us can barely get out of bed without some caffeine, and for many people, drinking that first cup of coffee is the only way to start the day. But drinking caffeine-laden beverages isn’t the only way to give yourself a morning energy jolt. In fact, there are plenty of foods that you can buy at your local deli or diner that can give you that kick with no caffeine whatsoever.
Resorting to caffeine when you’re feeling tired might perk you up, but anyone who’s ever felt that mid-afternoon crash will know that coffee is only a temporary Band-Aid for the root issue. Caffeine is a stimulant, which means that the energy it provides isn’t going to sustain you through the day, and aside from keeping you from dozing off (we’re not going to lie: coffee can certainly come in handy during a long drive), it won’t provide you with real, useful energy.
We get energy from the foods we eat in a variety of different ways. Whereas simple carbohydrates like candy and white bread may give you a quick boost, the best foods for energy contain protein and complex carbohydrates, which increase blood glucose in a sustained, even way. And instead of eating a big greasy breakfast, opt for one that’s low in fat and high in fiber. A bacon, egg, and cheese may be delicious, but you’ll be ready for a nap within an hour of eating it. Iron also helps keep your blood oxygenated, so foods that are high in iron are important for energy. You can find some specific foods that you can buy at the supermarket that will help perk you up throughout the day here.
There are also ways of boosting your energy that don’t involve food at all. If you’ve been chained to a desk for hours and start to feel yourself nodding off, get up and walk around a little bit. Getting regular exercise also works wonders on your overall energy level. Also, drink a glass of water when you wake up and stay hydrated throughout the day in order to fend off exhaustion. And most importantly of all, make sure that you get enough sleep!
So before you reach for that bagel and cream cheese (which is guaranteed to put you in a food coma before noon), opt instead for one of these dishes, which should be readily available at your local diner, deli, or food shop.
Poor digestion can lead to an energy crash due to toxicity from the gut finding its way into the bloodstream. The probiotics in yogurt are essential for keeping that toxicity at bay by boosting the level of good bacteria in the stomach, and they can also help mend a weak immune system. And if fruit is added (especially bananas, which will help give you sustained energy throughout the day), it’s even better. Take the parfait over the top by buying one with shredded coconut, which contains a type of fat called medium-chain triglycerides, which turn into energy quickly and efficiently.
Eggs are high in iron and protein, two of the most important factors for sustained energy. And the choline, a type of B vitamin, in eggs is important for brain function. Add in spinach as well; the iron in it will help to keep your blood oxygenated, and it’s high in antioxidants and has been proven to make your muscles work more efficiently.