I’m always looking for natural ways to maintain my energy throughout the day. The most important thing for me is to avoid those foods and drinks that put me on a rollercoaster of highs and lows. Coffee, pastries, energy drinks, and other high sugar foods and drinks may spike you up temporarily, but they’ll also bring you down just as quick.
For healthy, sustained energy try some of these natural energy boosters that work great for me:
These are my go-to snacks if I start to feel lethargic in the afternoon. Almonds are a rich source of substances associated with energy production; namely, B vitamins and magnesium. Low levels of these nutrients in particular are associated with tiredness, irritability, and poor ability to concentrate. A handful is about 100 calories and that should do you. Almonds also contain monounsaturated fats for healthy brain function and heart health.
Beets are high in nitrates, compounds that open up blood vessels, increase blood circulation, and act as a natural remedy for erectile dysfunction. When it comes to energy and endurance, beets and beet juice have been “heralded as a possible new ergogenic aid for sport and exercise performance” in a recent review.
You can get the benefits of beets in energy supplements for men like EveryDay Male® or you can create your own beet juice. Put 1 cut up raw beet in a blender (not a juicer), together with some raw peeled ginger (about ½ inch), some lemon juice (to taste), and 2 cups of water- and blend it all up. It’s not for everyone, because of the taste, but it’s a great morning detox.
While researching my book I discovered so many amazing facts about the health benefits of coconut oil. What separates coconut oil from so many other vegetable and seed oils is their structure: they consist mainly of medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), while the latter oils are mostly long-chain triglycerides. MCTs are absorbed and broken down by the body differently, which contributes to these health benefits, including higher levels of testosterone and enhancement of thyroid function, which increases energy and endurance. I include raw coconut oil in my morning matcha green tea. And I also eat a tablespoon throughout the day if I feel my energy getting low.
I used to never eat chocolate. But I admit, I’m now addicted. In moderate amounts, dark chocolate (but not milk chocolate) is a great way to boost your energy. Dark chocolate contains high percentages of cacao, minerals (e.g., calcium, magnesium, potassium), and a variety of flavonoids, potent antioxidants that have a beneficial impact on blood pressure and blood flow to the heart and brain, as well as improve mood and cognitive performance. When shopping for dark chocolate, remember that darker is better, since it means the product contains more flavonoids. Aim for between 70-100% cacao content depending on your personal taste preference. The higher the cacao, the more bitter the taste of the chocolate.
Quinoa is one of my favorite energy boosting foods. The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations declared 2013 as “The International Year of the Quinoa” because of quinoa’s “high nutritive value.” It’s a complete protein, and provides healthy fats (monounsaturated and omega-3 fatty acids) and antioxidants (especially quercetin and kaempferol). It’s also a great source of manganese, and is a good source of copper, dietary fiber, folate, magnesium, phosphorus, and zinc. Use it in place of rice, in salads, and as a side dish with any meal.
Of all the food groups, proteins are the ones that provide the best, sustained energy source. And salmon is at the top of my list as one of the healthiest proteins for men’s health. Do you remember being told you had to eat fish because it was brain food? Salmon is high on that list also because it’s a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA, which is especially important for brain health) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). Omega-3 fatty acids are essential not only because they lower the risk of heart disease, but also because they lead the fight against inflammation-induced depression. To boost both your physical and mental energy, be sure to include salmon on your menu at least once a week. Make sure it’s “wild caught” and is sourced from sustainable fish populations.
Watermelon is not only great for summer vodka cocktails, it also contains L-citrulline, an amino acid that has been credited by the Journal of Applied Physiology with helping enhance the body’s levels of nitric oxide, which in turn relaxes blood vessels and improves blood flow. Great blood flow is important for two things that men care about — a healthy heart, and strong erectile health. Those are a couple of reasons why L-citrulline supplements can help with men’s sexual health and libido as well as promoting better energy levels.
Ok, so there are my seven natural energy boosters. One final tip: Try to be conscious about how all the foods you eat affect your mood and energy. Whether it’s the foods above — or others during the day — do they make you sleepy, or do they provide sustained and balanced energy through the day? Keep a mental diary of what works and what doesn’t and find what is right for you.